The official attendance for Saturday's game between the Columbus Crew and DC United will go into the record books as 53,267 - a number inflated by the opening game of the day's doubleheader between Spain and El Salvador. The vast majority of those fans had left the stadium by the time the Crew and United kicked off, but in the eyes of history the figure will stand.
While the data point is impressive, it is not the largest crowd ever to have attended a game involving the Columbus Crew. While the capacity of Columbus Crew Stadium is only 20,000, six times the team have played in front of crowds larger than 50,000. These games are either part of a doubleheader with more marquis teams, or fall on July 4th. Here is a list of the largest attendance figures in club history.
1) 61,572 - August 8, 2009
The biggest ever crowd at a Crew game, like many in the history of Major League Soccer, involves a doubleheader. On this day, the game between the Crew and San Jose was the first game in a doubleheader that also featured Chivas and Barcelona. The event was promoted as the "Night of Champions" because Chivas and Columbus were reigning league champions in Mexico and the United States, while Barcelona had just won the UEFA Champions League.
The game, played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, was won 3-0 by the Columbus Crew on the strength of second half goals by Alejandro Moreno, Robbie Rogers, and Adam Moffat.
2) 54,432 - July 16, 2005
In July of 2005, the Crew traveled to Soldier Field to face the Fire as the under card to a summer friendly between Chivas and Real Madrid. The crowd of 54,432 is still the largest for any Fire home game. Eric Vasquez opened the scoring for the Crew but Justin Mapp equalized eight minutes later as the two clubs finished in a 1-1 stalemate.
From the Columbus perspective, this game was most notable for being the first coached by Robert Warzycha after the firing of Greg Andrulis.
3) 53,844 - July 4, 2000
This game holds the record for the largest crowd in team history that did not involve a double-header. The standalone contest on July 4th saw the Crew fall behind in the 4th minute from a goal by Mauricio Cienfuegos. The Galaxy went on to outshoot the Crew 11-2 but could not add to their lead.
4) 53,267 - June 8, 2014
The latest entrant on this list came courtesy of a doubleheader with the Spanish and El Salvadoran national teams. As part of that doubleheader, the teams played not at RFK Stadium but FedEx Field. Saturday's game was the only scoreless draw on this list, but it took a poorly taken penalty kick from DC United's Fabian Espindola to preserve the deadlock. The kick, called in stoppage time after a Bernardo Anor handball, was softly chipped directly at waiting goalkeeper Steve Clark.
5) 52,634 - July 4, 2001
This was the last of three consecutive large crowds on Independence Day, starting with a game in Colorado in 1999 and continuing with contests in Los Angeles in 2000 and 2001. Brian West scored two second-half goals to lead the team to victory. The next year also saw the Crew playing on the road on July 4th, but their trip to New England was witnessed by less than 11,000 people.
6) 51,025 - July 4, 1999
This game featured a brace from Stern John and an amazing strike by defender Mike Lapper, and was also the first time the Crew played in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 fans. It took place at Mile High Stadium in Colorado, and was part of the Rapids tradition of games around July 4th that featured a post-game fireworks show. From the Rapids' perspective, this was the first time that the team lost on Independence Day.