There is something called the Centre Internationale d”Etude du Sport sitting in a Swiss chateau that does nothing but analyze sports statistics, especially soccer. Dream job anyone?
Before you brush up your resume, here’s a taster of what they do. As reported today by NBC Sports, the CIES Football Observatory publishes a monthly report on various topics as they deem fit. The current month’s report takes a look at attendance in soccer across 51 different leagues in 42 countries. The report is good news for MLS and Atlanta United.
Atlanta United, based on attendance averages over the past five seasons (yes, I know we’ve only had two), ranks no. 10 worldwide. More than that, Atlanta is the only team not based in England, Germany or Spain to make the top ten. The next best non-European team is China’s Guangzhou Evergrande way back at 26. MLS’ second-best team is the Seattle Sounders, who came in at 29. After Seattle the next North American team is Club America at 31. Yup, MLS has two teams outdrawing every club in Liga MX.
Atlanta could easily jump a couple of spots with opening the third deck for more games: currently the team is only 802 fans per game out of the 8th spot.
MLS did really well too, ranking 8th. Liga MX did better on average at no. 4. Adding Atlanta over the past two seasons surprisingly has not moved the needle much on that front. In fact, average attendance dropped slightly in 2018, but that was driven by a few special circumstances, including DC United playing at a very small venue while Audi Field was being constructed, and the Columbus Crew being affected by the possible move to Austin. With those problems out of the way, Allianz Field in Minnesota just opening, and Portland’s Providence Park getting an expansion, MLS could jump a few spots in the rankings (man, it feels weird wanting Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers to do something well).
All in, these results are excellent news for soccer in North America.