Football is nothing without fans and that has never been more evident than over the past year. While Major League Soccer was able to return last summer with their World Cup-style MLS is Back tournament before finishing the season out in local markets, it never did have quite the same feeling.
The MLS is Back tournament was played behind closed doors at the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex in Bay Lake, Florida and often felt more like watching a friendly than the prestigious tournament it was supposed to be.
However, as more and more states open up for business and allow fans back into stadiums the atmosphere at games has been palpable. Having a little over 7,000 fans present at Dignity Health Sports Park while heated rivals Los Angeles FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy did battle in the El Traffico derby made the game feel so much more intense than what we have seen when stadiums were empty.
Although the three Canadian MLS franchises are still being forced to play their home games south of the border, having them play in front of raucous and excited crowds helps any television broadcast. It also provides a glimpse into how much having home fans present can impact a team’s performance on the pitch.
Teams such as Atlanta United allowing 50% capacity mean that they can have close to 21,000 fans in the stands for every home game. While some may argue that having supporters present really shouldn’t provide too much of be too much of an advantage for the home team, it has never been easier to see the uplifting effect that fans can have on the players.
Sadly, the opposite effect also seems to be true for those teams still wishing they could be able to play in front of their biggest supporters again in their own stadium.
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Story by Marco D’Onofrio, Soccer 360 Magazine