It was another landmark day for Canadian soccer on Tuesday night in Montréal, a thrilling five-goal rivalry match that put Impact Montréal FC ahead 3-2 in their playoff series with Toronto FC. The 2016 MLS Eastern Conference final featured a record crowd of 61,004 fans, the largest crowd for a match featuring two Canadian soccer teams.
It will also mark the second year in a row that a soccer match has drawn the highest one-day attendance for an in-stadia competition in Canada.
“Canada continues to prove itself as a leading soccer nation” said Peter Montopoli, Canada Soccer’s General Secretary. “We expect the momentum to continue with large crowds turning out at all levels of the game. National team support is at an all-time high and the future of the sport in this country is brighter than ever before.”
In 2015, the top seven attendances in Canada were all soccer matches (CONCACAF Champions League and FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015), with the top-10 rounded out by Blue Jays games in Toronto and Montréal.
Before the Tuesday 22 November match at Stade Olympique, the largest crowd in Canada in 2016 was the Canada-Mexico FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match on 25 March in Vancouver. That record crowd of 54,798 at BC Place was the largest attendance for a Canadian national team event – of any sport – ever held in Canada.
At the club level, all three Canadian teams in Major League Soccer set attendance records in 2016, drawing a cumulative attendance of more than 1.18 million fans over 51 home matches. The three clubs averaged 23,193 and drew 30 sold out crowds at BC Place, BMO Field, and Stade Saputo.
Following the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference finals, the return leg will be played on Wednesday 30 November at BMO Field in Toronto. The winning side will advance to the MLS Cup championship final, a first since Canadian clubs joined MLS in 2007.