Does Your State Even Like Soccer?

by Chris Tognotti

It's a fantastic time to be a soccer fan: The 2014 World Cup is in full swing. But not everybody is thrilled about the Cup — predictably, interest in soccer in the U.S. lags lightyears behind other, way more fervent nations. Actually, we don't even call it by its correct name, having given the "football" moniker to a sport where foot meets ball just a few times per game. It shouldn't come as much surprise, therefore, that American opinion on soccer is pretty polarized. To say the least.

Thanks to the real-estate website Estately, we can now glean a little insight into the shape and distribution of those opinions across all 50 states. Drawing on a variety of criteria, they've produced a map highlighting the states most and least enthusiastic about soccer. The seven ways they determined the rankings, as stated on their blog:

  • Average attendance for Major League Soccer and Northwest Women’s Soccer League matches.
  • The number of soccer-friendly pubs per capita, as determined by Live Soccer TV and Wrong Side of the Pond’s Soccer Pub Atlas.
  • The number of Facebook users per capita in each state expressing interest in FIFA World Cup, soccer, Major League Soccer, and any MLS team.
  • The number of youth soccer clubs per capita.
  • Facebook interest in the most popular foreign teams: Manchester United FC, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF, Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC, AC Milan, Liverpool FC, Inter Milan, Juventus FC, and FC Bayern Munich.
  • Google searches for FIFA World Cup, U.S. soccer roster, World Cup schedule, adult soccer league, FIFA (video game series), and FIFA 14 (video game).
  • The number of professional men’s and women’s soccer teams per capita from Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, North American Soccer League, and USL Pro.

So there you go: The landscape of American soccerdom, and some of the results are right in line with what you might have assumed. Washington is the most soccer-friendly state in the union, and considering the map weighs MLS attendance, that makes sense — the Seattle Sounders are by far the most popular, successful soccer team in the country.

Actually, the whole West Coast is pretty positive about the whole soccer thing. But when you head into the midwest and south, the rankings get a little more unpredictable — despite being flanked by states down on the sport, the corridor of Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois all ranked no lower than 17th in their soccer appreciation. Maybe we can call it the soccer belt?

The cluster of states near to the Gulf Coast — Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama — have no time for pitches or goals or kits. Alabama, in fact, is the most soccer-hating state in the country. So if you're a World Cup addict cruising through the deep south, beware — people may not have much time for your passion. Also, it's a safe bet that bars won't feature Brazil vs. Mexico on the big screen.