Messi at Inter Miami in MLS game
Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock

The US is becoming more and more receptive to association football, or soccer as it is referred to locally, if the latest attendance figures are anything to go by.

Major League Soccer (MLS), the country’s top-flight league, revealed that match attendances are up 13% from June last year to 6.5 million, 750,000 more than in 2023.

A more refined breakdown saw five matches see an attendance of 60,000 or more, with six matches registering a crowd of 50,000 and 15 matches spectators in excess of 40,000.

Out of the league’s 29 clubs, 25 saw an uptick in crowd numbers. The popularity of football has been increasing significantly over recent years, and although it is not on the same level as the NFL, NBA, National Hockey League (NHL) or Major League Baseball (MLB), its value continues to climb as a result.

Strong performances for the US women’s team in international tournaments, with the squad having won the 1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019 women’s World Cups, has likely contributed heavily to the sport’s rising popularity.

The US is also set to be one of the host countries of the 2026 World Cup, with duties shared with fellow North American nations Mexico and Canada. The US will host the bulk of games, however, and the prospect of some of football’s biggest names playing on American shores is driving excitement among sports lovers in the country.

In its statement, MLS cited the 2026 World Cup being held in MLS markets as a contributing factor to viewing figures. The ongoing 2024 Copa America, which kicked off last Thursday, alongside the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in the US, have also been cited.

“These major events, home to world-class players from MLS and abroad, contribute to booming soccer interest locally and nationally,” the league stated.

In addition to prominent tournaments, MLS has also stied a constituency in scheduling game on Saturday night, a 15 increase in ticket bases and the presence of Argentine megastar Lionel Messi in the Inter Miami squad as driving engagement.

US interest in football is having an impact beyond US shores also. The country is becoming increasingly drawn to the lure of European competitions such as the Premier League.

NBC, the Premier League’s US broadcaster partner, has been engaged in talks for Premier League games to be potentially hosted in the US, although this has received some backlash from segments of the English fan base.

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