D.C. United is expecting a fifth consecutive large crowd Saturday afternoon when the club hosts the second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals against the Red Bulls at RFK Stadium.
And that crowd will include as many as 1,000 New York supporters.
United officials say that, with steady sales the next two days and walk-up purchases, they should near the downsized capacity of just over 20,000.
The largest attendance figures of the regular season, excluding the June match at FedEx Field, came in the final four home dates: 19,453 vs. New York, 19,478 vs. Philadelphia, 19,308 vs. Kansas City and 20,162 vs. Chicago.
United averaged 17,030 for 17 home games, but 14,765 at RFK. The FedEx doubleheader featuring a Spain vs. El Salvador friendly drew 53,267 and figured into DCU’s overall average. Still, the attendance numbers for the RFK matches were an 8.2 percent increase from last season.
The upper deck of the 45,000-seat stadium will remain closed this weekend. United did consider opening it, primarily to accommodate the large Red Bulls contingent, but instead decided to place New York fans in the usual location for visiting supporters: the corner of the lower bowl near the north goal. Twelves buses carrying New York fans are scheduled to make the four-hour drive. Other supporters are traveling on their own.
Several hundred United backers attended last Sunday’s first leg at Red Bull Arena, a 2-0 New York victory before an announced crowd of 18,054. (The actual turnout at the 25,000-seat venue appeared to be no more than 15,000.)
If United overcomes the two-goal series deficit and advances to the conference finals, ticket demand might warrant upper deck access. DCU would host New England or Columbus in the second leg Nov. 29 or 30.
NBC will provide live coverage of Game 2 with the Red Bulls, starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:35. The network typically schedules a 20-minute pregame show, but because of the possibility of extra time and penalty kicks deciding the series, additional time has been allocated to the back end of the broadcast window.