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USA Today via Reuters

Last night’s match between Sporting Kansas City and Inter Miami hit the jackpot. Aside from the Herons’ remarkable win in the five-goal thriller, it was the off-the-charts attendance that dominated the headlines. The presence of Lionel Messi and Patrick Mahomes at the Arrowhead Stadium proved to be a major draw for MLS as they are basking in the glory of a historic record-breaking attendance this weekend. 

As per the information unveiled by the MLS PR and communications department, all the league games of Matchday 9 had a combined audience of 366,979 spectators in the stadiums. This means that it became the third-highest attended weekend of MLS games in the league’s history.

A key part in achieving this was played by the 72,610 people turning up for the match at Arrowhead to keep up the venue’s stature for being the ‘loudest stadium in the world.’ The attendance at Arrowhead was not only the highest of the weekend but also the largest crowd of the MLS season so far. Though the presence of Super Bowl champion Mahomes may have played its part in getting so many fans to attend the game, there is little doubt that “Messi Effect” is still going strong in MLS, as observed last season as well.

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Last year in Messi’s debut season, the MLS recorded the best-attended year in its history, with a total of 10,900,804 people showing up in stadiums. The average attendance was 22,111, up around five percent from 21,033 in 2022. Goes without saying that, Inter Miami have also been reaping the rewards of Messi’s service both on and off the field. Last season, The Herons had an average attendance of 17,698, a 40% increase from 12,637.

Speaking of the match against Sporting Kansas City, Miami successfully managed to dominate the home side with a 2-3 win. Although Miami shockingly stumbled within six minutes, with Erik Thommy breaking the deadlock, Messi’s brilliant setup for Diego Gomez helped them to equalize, with La Pulga scoring a screamer from way outside the box in the latter half. Even though Thommy again came to disrupt Miami’s lead with an equalizer, Luis Suarez came to the rescue for the crucial three points. 

While both teams put on quite a show, the surge in attendance ultimately boils down to the presence of Sporting KC owner Mahomes and the excitement surrounding Messi’s magical footwork. This raises the question: where does the attendance for the Sporting KC vs Inter Miami match rank on the all-time list of MLS attendance records?

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Which is the highest-attended MLS game of all time? 

Without a doubt, having 72,610 people in the stadium is no joke. However, this number remains the fourth-highest in the history books of Major League Soccer. Topping the all-time list of largest standalone match attendances in MLS history is last year’s regular season clash between LA Galaxy and LAFC, held on July 4, 2023, at the Rose Bowl stadium. It garnered a whopping attendance of 82,110. What about the other two matches that outshine Miami’s clash against Kansas yesterday?

USA Today via Reuters

The 2022 season’s clash between Charlotte and LA Galaxy on March 5 at the Bank of America Stadium is second with over 74,479 attendees. The third one remains the 2018 MLS Cup clash between Atlanta United and Portland on December 8, recorded 73,019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Behind Miami vs Kansas is the Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy match held on August 3, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with attendance surging to 72,548. 

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With Messi continuing to shine for Inter Miami, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some of these records are toppled this season. If Inter Miami make it far into post season, we can see more such attendance records in MLS.

Written by

Abhishek Mishra

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Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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Edited by

Jayant Chhabra