Americans finally have found their own soft spot for the world’s most beloved professional sport. After what seemed an eternity of low popularity among U.S. fans, soccer — better known as “football” to the international community — has gained admiration and respect here at home.

Much of the credit for the sport’s growing domestic acceptance goes to the U.S. Women’s National Team, who made us proud with its record-breaking victory in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Part of the glory is also owed to COPA América Centenario, the world’s oldest soccer competition, held the following year on U.S. turf for the first time in its 100-year history.

In 2019, the U.S. National team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup once more. This victory has contributed to higher attendance at soccer events throughout the U.S. For example, the Chicago Red Stars saw around 13,000 fans more than average attend a game shortly after the win. In addition, the average MLS team was worth $240 million in 2018, up 7.6% from 2017.

If those attendance figures and franchise values are any indication, it’s an exciting time to be a soccer fan in America. But not every soccer city in the U.S. is a good place to love on the sport. To determine the top spots for soccer fandom, WalletHub compared more than 280 U.S. cities with at least one college or professional soccer team across five divisions and examined each based on 52 key metrics. Our data set ranges from minimum season-ticket price for a game to stadium accessibility to number of championship wins. Read on for the winners, expert insight on the future of soccer and a full description of our methodology.

Main Findings

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Best Soccer Cities in America

Ranking by City Size

Rank
(1 = Best)
Large City
(Score)
Rank
(1 = Best)
Midsize City
(Score)
Rank
(1 = Best)
Small City
(Score)
1 Los Angeles, CA
(54.64)
1 Orlando, FL
(48.67)
1 New Brunswick, NJ
(25.17)
2 Portland, OR
(46.34)
2 Salt Lake City, UT
(47.27)
2 Bethlehem, PA
(18.59)
3 Seattle, WA
(46.05)
3 Cary, NC
(37.81)
3 Edinburg, TX
(16.69)
4 Atlanta, GA
(42.84)
4 Cincinnati, OH
(32.99)
4 Charlottesville, VA
(12.46)
5 Kansas City, MO
(41.15)
5 Charleston, SC
(18.19)
5 Clemson, SC
(11.09)
6 New York, NY
(40.65)
6 Irvine, CA
(14.26)
6 Buies Creek, NC
(11.04)
7 Washington, DC
(40.60)
7 Reno, NV
(12.50)
7 State College, PA
(10.34)
8 Chicago, IL
(33.40)
8 Hartford, CT
(12.50)
8 Chapel Hill, NC
(9.96)
9 Dallas, TX
(30.44)
9 Kansas City, KS
(12.35)
9 Storrs, CT
(9.74)
10 Boston, MA
(28.34)
10 St. Petersburg, FL
(12.17)
10 Stanford, CA
(9.64)
11 Columbus, OH
(27.54)
11 Birmingham, AL
(11.98)
11 Lewisburg, PA
(9.49)
12 Houston, TX
(27.19)
12 Tacoma, WA
(8.84)
12 West Point, NY
(9.33)
13 Denver, CO
(26.23)
13 Dayton, OH
(7.81)
13 Bloomington, IN
(9.25)
14 San Jose, CA
(24.19)
14 South Bend, IN
(7.59)
14 Leesburg, VA
(9.13)
15 Minneapolis, MN
(23.88)
15 Columbia, SC
(7.50)
15 College Park, MD
(9.05)
16 Philadelphia, PA
(23.10)
16 Greensboro, NC
(7.49)
16 Conway, SC
(8.82)
17 Louisville, KY
(20.29)
17 Cambridge, MA
(7.32)
17 Boiling Springs, NC
(8.81)
18 Sacramento, CA
(17.90)
18 Des Moines, IA
(7.27)
18 Hamilton, NY
(8.66)
19 St. Louis, MO
(17.14)
19 Lowell, MA
(6.72)
19 Kingston, RI
(8.59)
20 Nashville, TN
(17.03)
20 Wilmington, NC
(6.67)
20 Princeton, NJ
(8.47)
21 Indianapolis, IN
(16.51)
21 Winston-Salem, NC
(6.51)
21 Morgantown, WV
(8.42)
22 Las Vegas, NV
(15.76)
22 High Point, NC
(6.44)
22 Valparaiso, IN
(8.20)
23 Charlotte, NC
(15.10)
23 Fort Wayne, IN
(6.40)
23 Fairfield, CT
(7.87)
24 Tulsa, OK
(15.09)
23 Richmond, VA
(6.40)
24 Fairfax, VA
(7.82)
25 Pittsburgh, PA
(14.95)
25 Santa Clara, CA
(5.79)
25 Greenville, SC
(7.79)
26 Phoenix, AZ
(14.53)
26 Durham, NC
(5.69)
26 Annapolis, MD
(7.76)
27 San Antonio, TX
(14.13)
27 Buffalo, NY
(5.60)
27 Allegany, NY
(7.68)
28 Colorado Springs, CO
(13.71)
28 Providence, RI
(5.56)
28 Hamden, CT
(7.67)
29 Memphis, TN
(13.13)
29 Spokane, WA
(5.50)
29 Radford, VA
(7.50)
30 Albuquerque, NM
(11.67)
30 Green Bay, WI
(5.30)
30 Lawrence, NJ
(7.45)
31 Fresno, CA
(11.32)
31 Berkeley, CA
(5.25)
31 Harrisonburg, VA
(7.42)
32 Oklahoma City, OK
(11.14)
32 Fullerton, CA
(5.09)
32 New Britain, CT
(7.41)
33 Austin, TX
(9.30)
33 Akron, OH
(5.05)
33 DeKalb, IL
(7.36)
34 El Paso, TX
(8.91)
34 Gainesville, FL
(4.97)
34 Conway, AR
(7.35)
35 Baltimore, MD
(7.39)
35 Madison, WI
(4.69)
35 Lynchburg, VA
(7.32)
36 Milwaukee, WI
(6.94)
36 Ann Arbor, MI
(4.49)
35 West Long Branch, NJ
(7.32)
37 Stockton, CA
(6.82)
37 Knoxville, TN
(4.33)
37 Spartanburg, SC
(7.22)
38 Tampa, FL
(6.73)
38 Springfield, MO
(4.26)
38 Farmville, VA
(7.20)
39 Detroit, MI
(6.53)
39 Macon-Bibb County, GA
(4.15)
39 Easton, PA
(7.19)
40 Cleveland, OH
(6.45)
40 Greeley, CO
(4.06)
40 Bowling Green, OH
(7.15)
41 Jacksonville, FL
(5.92)
41 Norfolk, VA
(4.06)
41 Kalamazoo, MI
(7.06)
42 Lexington-Fayette, KY
(5.60)
42 Abilene, TX
(4.00)
42 Fort Myers, FL
(7.02)
43 Omaha, NE
(5.51)
43 College Station, TX
(3.97)
43 Amherst, MA
(7.02)
44 Miami, FL
(5.47)
44 Mobile, AL
(3.87)
44 Smithfield, RI
(6.95)
45 Raleigh, NC
(4.89)
45 New Haven, CT
(3.87)
45 Hackensack, NJ
(6.90)
46 San Diego, CA
(4.58)
46 Syracuse, NY
(3.86)
46 Williamsburg, VA
(6.83)
47 San Francisco, CA
(4.38)
47 Baton Rouge, LA
(3.86)
47 Loretto, PA
(6.71)
48 Bakersfield, CA
(3.78)
48 Clarksville, TN
(3.68)
48 Emmitsburg, MD
(6.55)
49 Honolulu, HI
(3.66)
49 Provo, UT
(3.63)
49 Highland Heights, KY
(6.36)
50 Riverside, CA
(3.31)
50 Evansville, IN
(3.61)
50 San Luis Obispo, CA
(6.33)
51 Long Beach, CA
(2.76)
51 Tallahassee, FL
(3.53)
51 Hanover, NH
(6.33)
52 Tucson, AZ
(2.61)
52 Denton, TX
(3.52)
52 Orem, UT
(6.12)
53 Fort Worth, TX
(2.39)
53 Chattanooga, TN
(3.45)
53 Durham, NH
(6.10)
54 Corpus Christi, TX
(1.48)
54 Waco, TX
(3.42)
54 Binghamton, NY
(6.03)
55 Boulder, CO
(3.41)
55 Santa Barbara, CA
(5.91)
56 Lincoln, NE
(3.35)
56 East Lansing, MI
(5.83)
57 Athens, GA
(3.22)
57 Hempstead, NY
(5.79)
58 Peoria, IL
(3.16)
58 Lewiston, NY
(5.60)
59 Worcester, MA
(2.98)
59 Stony Brook, NY
(5.59)
60 Lubbock, TX
(2.92)
60 Rock Hill, SC
(5.56)
61 Beaumont, TX
(2.84)
61 Moraga, CA
(5.47)
62 Newark, NJ
(2.66)
62 Elon, NC
(5.44)
63 Norman, OK
(2.62)
63 Corvallis, OR
(5.41)
64 Tempe, AZ
(2.49)
64 Albany, NY
(5.39)
65 Columbia, MO
(2.35)
65 Oxford, MS
(5.34)
66 Jersey City, NJ
(2.20)
66 Davidson, NC
(5.32)
67 Montgomery, AL
(2.16)
67 Statesboro, GA
(5.15)
68 Boise, ID
(2.09)
68 Auburn, AL
(5.02)
69 Murfreesboro, TN
(2.07)
69 Kent, OH
(4.89)
70 Eugene, OR
(2.04)
70 Evanston, IL
(4.88)
71 Toledo, OH
(1.95)
71 Blacksburg, VA
(4.88)
72 Fargo, ND
(1.82)
72 Huntington, WV
(4.78)
73 Little Rock, AR
(1.78)
73 Edwardsville, IL
(4.60)
74 Fort Collins, CO
(1.73)
74 Boone, NC
(4.41)
75 Huntsville, AL
(1.58)
75 Charleston, IL
(4.29)
76 Jackson, MS
(1.20)
76 Asheville, NC
(4.28)
77 Hampton, VA
(1.09)
77 Clinton, SC
(4.26)
78 Las Cruces, NM
(1.09)
78 Burlington, VT
(4.24)
79 Nacogdoches, TX
(4.22)
80 Muncie, IN
(4.22)
81 Poughkeepsie, NY
(4.10)
82 Martin, TN
(4.02)
83 Kennesaw, GA
(4.00)
83 Mount Pleasant, MI
(4.00)
85 Logan, UT
(4.00)
86 Normal, IL
(3.99)
87 Champaign, IL
(3.97)
88 Ypsilanti, MI
(3.97)
89 West Lafayette, IN
(3.96)
90 Rochester, MI
(3.92)
91 Iowa City, IA
(3.92)
92 Athens, OH
(3.91)
93 Fayetteville, AR
(3.86)
94 Hammond, LA
(3.85)
95 Orangeburg, SC
(3.82)
96 Davis, CA
(3.81)
97 Johnson City, TN
(3.78)
98 Newark, DE
(3.73)
99 Stillwater, OK
(3.65)
100 Ames, IA
(3.65)
101 Huntsville, TX
(3.64)
102 Thibodaux, LA
(3.62)
103 Cookeville, TN
(3.60)
104 Macomb, IL
(3.53)
105 Brookings, SD
(3.48)
106 Boca Raton, FL
(3.40)
107 Malibu, CA
(3.40)
108 Starkville, MS
(3.25)
109 Morehead, KY
(3.19)
110 Lexington, VA
(3.15)
111 Lawrence, KS
(3.13)
112 DeLand, FL
(3.13)
113 Ruston, LA
(3.11)
114 Ogden, UT
(3.06)
115 Ithaca, NY
(3.05)
116 Lake Charles, LA
(2.99)
117 South Orange Village, NJ
(2.99)
118 Cape Girardeau, MO
(2.97)
119 Flagstaff, AZ
(2.91)
120 Prairie View, TX
(2.91)
121 Laramie, WY
(2.88)
122 Grambling, LA
(2.84)
123 Greenville, NC
(2.74)
124 Manhattan, KS
(2.67)
125 Itta Bena, MS
(2.62)
126 Cheney, WA
(2.53)
127 Orono, ME
(2.52)
128 Tuscaloosa, AL
(2.51)
129 Cullowhee, NC
(2.50)
130 Pullman, WA
(2.44)
131 San Marcos, TX
(2.41)
132 Murray, KY
(2.40)
133 New Rochelle, NY
(2.37)
134 Moscow, ID
(2.32)
135 Hattiesburg, MS
(2.17)
136 Bowling Green, KY
(2.15)
137 Cedar Falls, IA
(1.96)
138 Natchitoches, LA
(1.94)
139 Fayette, MS
(1.94)
140 Terre Haute, IN
(1.89)
141 Jacksonville, AL
(1.85)
142 Missoula, MT
(1.83)
143 Pocatello, ID
(1.80)
144 Troy, AL
(1.80)
145 Cedar City, UT
(1.68)
146 Jonesboro, AR
(1.67)
147 Vermillion, SD
(1.67)
148 Oxford, OH
(1.64)
149 Richmond, KY
(1.60)
150 Towson, MD
(1.58)
151 Coral Gables, FL
(1.57)
152 Grand Forks, ND
(1.48)
153 Monroe, LA
(1.23)
154 Youngstown, OH
(1.14)
155 Dover, DE
(1.00)
156 Pine Bluff, AR
(0.94)

Ask the Experts

Soccer is evolving, which is evident not only in rising attendance and viewership rates but also in the emergence of new sports TV networks and soccer clubs. For additional insight into soccer-related issues and trends, we turned to a panel of leading sports experts. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What are the biggest issues facing U.S. soccer today?
  2. What is the long-term outlook for professional soccer in the U.S.?
  3. To what extent has U.S. soccer embraced fantasy sports, including the daily-fantasy model?
  4. What, in your mind, makes a good soccer fan?
  5. If your child were an elite youth soccer player, would you encourage him or her to pursue the MLS/NWSL or a premier international league?
  6. The U.S. Women’s soccer team previously negotiated higher pay and will now receive some of the same travel “perks” as their male counterparts. Do you think other sports should follow this example to increase pay equity between male and female athletes?

Methodology

In order to determine the best cities for soccer fans, WalletHub compared 288 of the most populated U.S. cities across five divisions: 1) MLS (Division I Men’s), 2) NWSL (Division I Women’s), 3) USL (Division III Men’s), 4) College Soccer (Division I Men’s) and 5) College Soccer (Division I Women’s). For our sample, we chose cities with at least one college or professional soccer team.

We evaluated the five divisions using 52 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for soccer fans. In order to determine the weight for each division, we surveyed the top-performing five teams in each division’s Facebook account, summed the number of “Likes” and calculated the proportion that each league represented in total. The weight attributed to each division is therefore based on its popularity.

Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample.

We also ranked the cities based on population size, using the following groupings:

  • Large Cities: More than 300,000 people
  • Midsize Cities: 100,000 to 300,000 people
  • Small Cities: Fewer than 100,000 people

MLS (Div. I Men’s) – Total Points = 55

  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
  • Number of Regular Season Conference (2 conferences) Titles: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
  • Franchise Value: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the team’s estimated value in millions of dollars.
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
  • Attendance: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing average home-fan attendance by stadium capacity.
  • Popularity Index: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)

NWSL (Div. I Women’s) – Total Points = 25

  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
  • Number of Regular Season League Titles: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
  • Attendance: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing average home-fan attendance by stadium capacity.
  • Popularity Index: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)

USL (Div. III Men’s) – Total Points = 10

  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Number of Regular Season Conference (2 conferences) Titles: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
  • Attendance: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing average home-fan attendance by stadium capacity.
  • Popularity Index: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)

College Soccer (Div. I Men’s) – Total Points = 5

  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Number of Conference Regular Season Titles: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.

College Soccer (Div. I Women’s) – Total Points = 5

  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Number of Conference Regular Season Titles: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
    Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.

Videos for News Use:

 
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Collegiate Athletic Association, ESPN, USL, Soccer Stadium Digest, Forbes, National Soccer Hall of Fame, FlashScore, Google Trends, each conference’s website, each team’s website and each team’s social media accounts.

Image: Air Images / Shutterstock.com

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