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July 28, 2010
 

Confirmed: Mexico is the Biggest Soccer Draw in the US

This Guy Gets To More Games Than You

While our interest in MLS is gaining—though still some way behind the rabid USMNT love displayed by 90% of UF staff—it should come as no surprise that when you look at attendance figures for soccer games stateside in 2010, El Tri comes out on top.

Yeah, it jars the mind a little bit, but when you consider that the Hispanic population in the US is a. massive and b. a lot more soccer-mad overall than the rest, it makes complete sense.

Via Soccer America, the Top 10 US Soccer Crowds:

1. Mexico v. New Zealand – Pasadena, CA – March 3 – 90,526
2. Mexico v. Ecuador – East Rutherford, NJ – May 7 – 77,507
3. Mexico v. Angola – Houston, TX – May 13 – 70,099
4. Mexico v. Iceland – Charlotte, NC – March 24 – 63,277
5. Mexico v. Senegal – Chicago, IL – May 10 – 60,210
6. USA v. Turkey – Philadelphia, PA – May 29 – 55,407
7. Kansas City Wizards v. Manchester United – Kansas City, MO – July 25 – 52,343
8. Seattle Sounders v. Celtic – Seattle, WA – July 18 – 45,631
9. Philadelphia Union v. Manchester United – Philadelphia, PA – July 21 – 44,123
10. Seattle Sounders v. Boca Juniors – Seattle, WA – May 26 – 40,122

Is this some kind of weird Bob Bradley effect that means just one USMNT game makes its own list? Not only that, but it was the final game in their big, branded send-off series before the World Cup. Failure of marketing, or just failure in picking a stadium capable of handling the demand? (Please Note: I have no clue if the game was a sell-out or not… if anyone knows, let me know in the comments)

And to make the point about El Tri even more emphatic than the tale told by the raw data, you see that it didn’t matter where in the USA they played, nor did the fans care who their opposition was. They turned out in droves to see Torrado, Johnny Two Saints and co slug it out in scrimmages against teams from Europe, South America, and Africa, and not even any of the good ones from those continents. It simply didn’t matter; come rain or shine, weekday or weeknight, the support was there.

Manchester United made the list on their recent summer tour, something that should go some way to ease this journalist’s residual grump over not getting their rings kissed in Toronto.

Maybe this has something to do with the relative scarcity of international soccer exhibition games in the USA, or maybe this is a sign that MLS powers should focus more on reigning in the obvious hispanic fanbase in this country. Well, we certainly feel that more effort should be made to reach out regarding scouting, but this is something else entirely.

If anything, it’s down to the dedication. While soccer has indeed a firm foothold in the USA, I feel like for some casual fans of the sport, it’s still coming down the priority scale when it comes to something to do on a Saturday night. For example, you’ll get El Tri fans flooding East Rutherford on any day of the week to check out their lads in action. For the USMNT supporters… yeah, they might not feel like making the effort. The PATH train sucks. The ticket’s expensive and I could go out drinking in Brooklyn instead. The weather’s kinda grim, etc.

This will, undoubtedly, change over time. Just takes time is all, and until then, we expect El Tri games will dominate such rankings in 2011.

In the meantime, perhaps the Mexico NT should just permanently move to the US and operate as a traveling roadshow like the Harlem Globetrotters. They certainly have the fanbase…

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About the Author

James T