The Landon Donovan farewell match brought solid ratings to ESPN on Friday night. According to John Ourand, 658,000 viewers tuned in to watch the United States' friendly against Ecuador, an average match, but one that had the allure of Donovan's final national team appearance.
Nobody will be jumping for joy over the 658,000 viewers. After all, it doesn't compare to football or playoff baseball, but it's not a bad rating. Last October, the U.S. drew 900,000 viewers for their match against Jamaica, but that was a World Cup qualifier so that is to be expected.
Friday nights don't normally rate well so the U.S. was always facing somewhat of an uphill battle to draw viewers. That neither Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley nor Tim Howard were part of the squad didn't help and Ecuador is hardly a sexy opponent. At face, the match should have rated terribly, but there was Donovan and Hartford.
Donovan is arguably the most famous American soccer player ever and his exclusion from the World Cup team drew headlines. That he got a chance to say goodbye, and that it came when few thought he would get a farewell match, made for a fair amount of buzz. So did the match being right up the road from ESPN's Bristol headquarters so they could hype up the contest.
As far as soccer ratings go, this was solid. Not great, not awful, just solid.