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Why Fútbol Trumps Football...Even In America

Updated on June 21, 2013

The MLS is the laughing stock league to many Americans, who prefer football over fĂștbol. While total attendance and stadiums sizes might say otherwise, fĂștbol still trumps even in the USA.

Stadium Capacity Fillled

While the MLS attendance average has been about 19,000 and the NFL has theirs at about 67,000 on average more MLS stadiums are filled to capacity than NFL. Take the Cincinnati Bengals who made the NFL playoffs last year. While they averaged about 44,000 they only filled up about 77% of their stadium. The Portland Timbers who didn't make the MLS playoffs averaged 18,000 and filled up about 92% of their stadium. This year they did even worse (8-10-16) and sold out every single game at Jeld-Wen Field (Capacity: 20,400). Even based on average attendance, the MLS trumps the NBA and NHL.

A Closer Look

Stadium Filled In %
Cincinnati Bengals
San Diego Chargers
No (Lost Tiebreaker)
New York Giants
Yes (Champions)
Atlanta Falcons
DC United
No (16th-7th)
Portland Timbers
No (12th-6th)
Seattle Sounders
Yes (Conference Semis)
Sporting KC
Yes (Conference Final)
Note: Were are 18 teams in the MLS in the 2011 season and the top 5 in each conference make the playoffs. This (5th-2nd) means that this team finished 5th in the league and 2nd in their conference.

Lee Nyguen Goal vs Vancouver

Even Playing Ground

While the other "major leagues" like the NBA, MLB and NFL lack any real levelness, and have the same teams win year after year, the MLS "spreads out the love" due to the growth of the league both financially and by popularity, adding better youth players. LA who won the league last year, barely slipped in and had to play in the wild-card round (they beat Vancouver 2-1) and the Colorado Rapids, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew and FC Dallas all made the playoffs last year and most didn't come close this year. The notoriously bad New England Revolution managed to field their whole first team (they usually have a lot of injuries due to practicing on grass and playing on turf) and crushed the playoff team Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1 easily. These upsets have become the norm, and yet are always a pleasant surprise. The other major leagues rarely have these kind of "events".


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    • nlazar profile image

      N. Lazar 5 years ago from USA

      I'm not a big fan of the two-leg final for CONCACAF and I disagree that the MLS won't make it big. I think they are already past the Russia phase, as it is no longer a "player" league, but a whole team one. Teams like the Sounders, Dynamo and Earthquakes are thriving without signing any outside stars. This year's CONCACAF champs league will be make or break for the MLS, and several good Mexican teams didn't get out of the group stage.

    • profile image

      Richard-Murray 5 years ago

      @Nlazar i dont think MLS can make it big, they can be like Russia , not the biggest player, but not little.

      The CCL's problem is that mexico and the USA use two different systems, but MExico's favors the international so mexico tends to be better prepared, and MLS' parity focus hurts its clubs when they want to lift trophies outside of domestic.

      the reason why UEFA is what it is, comes from the fact that if any league tries to be fiscally tight, their teams will lose out to another league that may have poorer teams on average but has diamonds on top, Barca and Real madrid keep spain alive. But they are so huge.

    • nlazar profile image

      N. Lazar 5 years ago from USA

      CONCACAF will need to grow before the MLS can make it big time. The set-up for the Champions League is horrid.

    • profile image

      Richard-Murray 5 years ago

      Soccer is a global sport and the States has the most multidemographic populace under any government. So, it makes sense the sport can only grow.

      I think the reality is, the structure of MLS and soccer in the USA is going to make soccer in USA another subsequent to UEFA.

    • nlazar profile image

      N. Lazar 5 years ago from USA

      Along with the appeal of the MLS, the addition of new stadiums (BBVA Compass, Livestrong Park) are attracting fans left and right.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Great hub and interesting comparisons. I've been following the MLS for around 8 years now and it has been fun and exciting to watch it grow and change. I've been seeing a lot of stats lately emphasizing soccer's rise in popularity in the US. It's great to see. And one thing that really impresses me is how many stadiums are sold out compared to other sports. Good info, voted up and shared!