Mike Koeshartanto


In 2016, GESM released its first proprietary ranking of the top soccer markets in America. With 2019 now underway we thought it appropriate to revisit these rankings with a fresh update that reflects the evolving soccer landscape in the U.S.

“What’s the top soccer market in the U.S? Interestingly, this is not a simple question to answer given the many different ways the sport of soccer is consumed,” said John Guppy, President & Founder of GESM. “We created our rankings algorithm as a way to look holistically at soccer participation, viewership, attendance, digital search and social conversation across all markets in the U.S. Ultimately, we can now make a declaration about who deserves the title of Soccer City USA”.


Our ranking methodology is based on considering a broad range of factors addressing the different types of soccer fan and soccer interests. Collectively, a total of 27 different data sets were evaluated from independent sources including: Scarborough, Google, Facebook, Twitter, MLS, U.S. Soccer, MLS, NASL, NWSL, and USL. Data addressed a cross section of soccer consumption from the five main principles of:

  •    Playing
  •    Watching
  •    Attending
  •    Conversing
  •    Searching

All represented data was either an indexed number or factored proportion calculated against market population and applied to each Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA). A market ranking was assigned within each data set and applied a factor weighting. Individual rankings were aggregated to generate an overall composite score and a final market ranking.  2018 rankings were compared and those of 2016.

Top 40 Soccer Markets

As we’ve noted on Twitter over the past 48 hours, several markets within the top five have remained, while others have entered and may surprise you. Details regarding each of our top five markets can be found below.

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Houston
  3. Salt Lake City
  4. New York City
  5. Harlingen / McAllen / Brownsville, TX

Without further adieu, let’s get into our rankings…

















Interesting Notes

  • Soccer interest is truly national with markets spanning the full geography of the U.S.
  • Every current MLS & NWSL market is in the top 40
  • Despite having the defending MLS Cup champions and average crowds in excess of 50,000, Atlanta is not as high as you may expect. Given the timeframe of data used, expect Atlanta to make a significant jump in the next iteration of our rankings
  • MLS expansion markets, whether announced or rumored, are scattered through the top 40: #17 San Diego, #18 San Antonio, #20 Sacramento, #22 Austin, #29 Phoenix, #32 Cincinnati, #38 Raleigh-Durham
  • Market with the biggest jump: Jacksonville

Categories: Attendance, Domestic, Featured, Infographics, Research, Soccer Marketing