Top 10 Best MLS Stadiums
10. Olympic Stadium (Montreal Impact)
The expansion is underway. While Saputo Stadium, the team’s customary home, is being extended for additional seats, the Montreal Impact have been playing their first MLS home games in Olympic Stadium.
Nevertheless, in Olympic Stadium the Impact have found a makeshift sanctuary. The team’s home opener saw 58,912 spectators fill the stadium. The second home game—a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC—was attended by over 23,000 fans.
However, the atmosphere will not properly reflect the fervor that exists in Montreal until the Impact return to Saputo Stadium.
9. RFK Stadium (D.C. United)
Since the league’s debut in 2006, D.C. United has played at RFK Stadium. Despite the fact that the stadium has brought the team a lot of success, including winning the 1997 MLS Cup on home soil, the club and fans have a love-hate relationship with the stadium.
RFK is old, looks like it’s falling apart, and is too big for what D.C. United needs. Given those setbacks, for many years RFK has been a very intimidating place to play.
Supporters groups like La Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles, and La Norte have been a menace to opposing teams.
Sitting mostly on the northern side of the stadium and in front of television cameras, you can see groups with their tifo, cheering, jumping, and literally causing RFK’s stands to bounce
8. Rio Tinto Stadium (Real Salt Lake)
The 20,000-seat Rio Tinto Stadium, which was built in 2008 to host Real Salt Lake, soon became a fortress for RSL and one of the most difficult places to play in Major League Soccer.
Rio Tino has always had a loud and rowdy atmosphere, thanks to the growth in popularity after RSL won the 2009 MLS Cup and the team’s continued success since then.
Salt Lake has eight fan clubs that rally the crowd to make Rio Tinto a hostile environment for visiting teams.
7. BC Place (Vancouver Whitecaps)
The Vancouver Whitecaps and the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League both play at BC Place.
The Whitecaps limit the stadium’s capacity to 21,000 for soccer matches, despite the fact that it has a capacity of little over 54,000. The 2012 season will be Vancouver’s first at BC Place, after the team’s initial season was held at Empire Field. Nonetheless, the relocation has been well received, with an average attendance of over 21,000 fans this season.
The Vancouver Whitecaps’ fans are noted for their visible support for the team, which is led by the “Vancouver Southsiders,” the team’s largest fan base.
Alongside them is “La Doce,” a secondary Whitecaps supporting organization made up of Latin American and European immigrants.
6. PPL Park (Philadelphia Union)
PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union, has the ability to be both a hostile and a beautiful stadium.
With a view that is second to none in MLS, spectators can watch the Union while taking in the surrounding scenery of the Delaware River and Commodore Barry Bridge.
However, within the confines of the stadium, it’s a little different. “The Sons of Ben”, the Union’s main and biggest supporter group, have been able to create an intimidating environment for any visiting team
PPL Park is guaranteed to be rocking and rolling for every game, with attendances hovering around the capacity-crowd of 18,500—occasionally exceeding that.
5. Livestrong Sporting Park (Sporting Kansas City)
The most technologically advanced soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer is Livestrong Sporting Park. It opened in 2011 to coincide with Sporting Kansas City’s rebranding as the Kansas City Wizards.
Even though it’s not a relatively large stadium, Kansas City’s move from Community America Ballpark and the re-branding of the team has helped establish a great atmosphere and sense of unity at Livestrong Sporting Park.
With an attendance capacity of 18,467, Sporting KC had an average attendance of 17,500 with several games surpassing the maximum capacity—including the stadium opener which held 19,925.
Livestrong Sporting Park is also home to “The Cauldron,” a nickname for the north side of the park, where a number of fan groups congregate, adding to the stadium’s intense and raucous atmosphere.
4. Home Depot Center (Los Angeles Galaxy)
The Home Depot Center was built for the 2003 Major League Soccer season and is currently home to the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA.
The Galaxy used it as a bunker during the 2011 season, when they were unbeaten at home on route to the 2011 MLS Cup, which was also held in the Home Depot Center. When full to near capacity or beyond, the 27,000-seat stadium can rival the atmosphere of any MLS stadium.
Cross-stadium shouts are popular during each half, thanks to supporters organizations like the “Angel City Brigade” and “Galaxians” on one end of the stadium and the “LA Riot Squad” on the other.
The call-and-response shouts reverberate around the stadium, causing havoc for the opposition while also demonstrating support for the home team.
3. BMO Field (Toronto FC)
When Toronto FC joined Major League Soccer in 2007, the atmosphere at BMO Field increased expectations among fans across the country.
The historic flying seat cushion celebration when Toronto scored its first goal in the league is an example of Toronto’s enthusiasm.
Despite the team’s under-performance for many years, BMO Field has seen full attendance at various points over Toronto’s six seasons, with a verified capacity of 21,140 and the possibility to expand.
The fans at BMO Field are led by supporter groups “North End Elite”, “Red Patch Boys”, “Tribal Rhythm Nation”, and the “U-Sector”. These groups and season ticket holders make up for about 16,000 fans of the more than 20,000 that attend each game on average.
2. CenturyLink Field (Seattle Sounders)
The Seattle Sounders made their MLS debut in 2009 with a bang. That fanfare hasn’t died down after four seasons. The Sounders, on the other hand, have a habit of breaking MLS attendance records.
Unlike most MLS clubs who share a stadium with a football team, the Sounders have been able to claim CenturyLink Field as their own on an equal footing with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
In its first season, Seattle capped off the stadium at 27,000 but quickly increased that amount to 32,400. Season after season the Sounders have been increasing their overall attendance capacity, eventually to 38,500 for the 2012 campaign.
CenturyLink Field also holds the largest MLS attended game in history, at 64,140, for its 2011 final regular-season match that doubled as a farewell to goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
The “Emerald City Supporters” and the “Sounders FC Alliance” are two of the most active supporter groups in Major League Soccer, with over 20,000 season ticket holders.
1. JELD-WEN Field (Portland Timbers)
To be honest, deciding between JELD-WEN Field and CenturyLink Field as the best MLS environment was really difficult.
However, no location in America can have the entire stadium sing the US National Anthem like JELD-WEN Field, hence the Portland Timbers’ home wins.
The stadium is not large by comparison to other stadiums, but it is the oldest stadium in MLS, which is probably why it’s also the scariest looking. It went through a renovation for Portland’s inaugural MLS season, which expanded the stadium’s capacity to 22,000.
With high walls between the fans and the field, visiting players get a sunken feeling when playing at JELD-WEN, which also magnifies the crowd’s presence and level of intimidation.