The United Soccer League, which an Austin franchise will rejoin in 2019, is making great strides in attracting fans.
The USL, whose regular season wraps up this week, just went over the two million mark for total attendance in 2017. No other North American second division league has ever drawn that many fans in a season.
San Antonio FC and Rio Grande Valley FC, the two exisiting Texas franchises, are among the USL leaders in attendance. San Antonio ranks fourth with a 7,195 average, and Rio Grande Valley, playing its first season in a new stadium, is just a tick behind in fifth at 7,067.
FC Cincinnati, the league’s remarkable success story, broke an unofficial non-major league attendance record in any American sport with a home average of 21,199 fans. Sacramento finished second at 11,569, followed by Louisville at 8,580.
The overall USL per-game average of 4,329 represents a nearly a 33 percent jump over last year, according to the league office.
“The USL’s growth over the past three years, which has seen our average attendance first break the one million mark two years ago, then surpass two million this year, is a testament to the raised standards the league has implemented and the outstanding level of competition,” said USL president Jake Edwards.
San Antonio’s fans have backed a winning club. The team is 15-4-11, good for third in the Western Conference with 56 points. San Antonio FC, which has home games Wednesday against Portland and Saturday vs. Rio Grande Valley, can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the USL’s Western Conference but already has locked up a playoff spot.