Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Fans and critics alike use attendance as the barometer for popularity of soccer in the United States.

On one hand, supporters of the USMNT decry the falling attendance numbers of recent years. On the other, the USWNT points out its consistent gains in attendance throughout various lawsuits against US Soccer. Of course, these both flipped in 2021, and much of that comes from the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A myriad of MLS clubs trumpet the large crowds drawn in recent seasons. Again, this applies mainly to American teams.

One team that does not tout attendance numbers is the Mexican National Team. The nation frequently draw so well that the numbers speak for themselves. In fact, there have been several articles in the past written going so far as to call El Tri “America’s Team.” From a purely people-in-seats perspective, there’s really no argument against it.

Mexico attendance in 2021

The majority of Mexico’s games happened in the United States. Whether that be because of COVID-19 restrictions or a pair of competitions, the Mexicans only played two games in their native country that actually had fans in attendance. Those two games came in World Cup Qualifiers within four days of each other at the Azteca.

Regardless, the following attendance chart shows the Mexican games played in the United States. Some of these are ‘neutral site’ games, while others do feature the USMNT. Inherently, that makes it a home game for the Americans, but we know how well the Mexico fans travel when the two countries play.

Here’s how Mexico’s attendance in the US looked in 2021.

Date Competition Opponent Stadium City Attendance
May. 29 Friendly Iceland AT&T Stadium Dallas, TX 44,892
June 3 Nations League Costa Rica Empower Field at Mile High Denver, CO 34,451
June 6 Nations League USA Empower Field at Mile High Denver, CO 37,648
June 12 Friendly Honduras Mercedez-Benz Stadium Atlanta, GA 70,072
June 30 Friendly Panama Nissan Stadium Nashville, TN 30,386
July 3 Friendly Nigeria LA Coliseum Los Angeles, CA 53,258
July 10 Gold Cup Trinidad and Tobago AT&T Stadium Dallas, TX 41,229
July 14 Gold Cup Guatemala Cotton Bowl Dallas, TX 15,391
July 18 Gold Cup El Salvador Cotton Bowl Dallas, TX 56,742
July 24 Gold Cup Honduras State Farm Stadium Phoenix, AZ 64,211
July 29 Gold Cup Canada NRG Stadium Houston, TX 70,304
August 1 Gold Cup USA Allegiant Stadium Las Vegas, NV 61,514
October 27 Friendly Ecuador Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC 39,887
November 12 World Cup Qualifying USA TQL Stadium Cincinnati, OH 26,000
December 8 Friendly Chile Q2 Stadium Austin, TX 17,202
TOTAL: 663,187
AVERAGE: 44,213
Breaking it down

Mexico’s attendance in 2021 averaged 44,213, which seems like a strong number compared to either of the US national teams. However, it is actually quite low for the Mexicans. In fact, it marks the lowest attendance for Mexico games in the US since 2017. That year, the nation drew just 43,586 per game through 10 games. 2021’s average of 44,213 represents a drop of 23% from 57,546 per game in 2019. Mexico did not play any games in the United States in 2020 due to COVID shutdowns.

So, what caused this large drop of attendance for Mexico games? Well, as was the case for both the USMNT and the USWNT, some games had COVID-related restrictions on capacity in place. It’s a safe bet to assume that the Nations League Final between Mexico and the US would certainly have drawn more than 37,000 people had the stadium been able to fully open up. And much as the USMNT and USWNT had to deal with, Mexico ran into the problem of playing consecutive games in the same stadium in the space of a few days during the Gold Cup. And one small nugget is Mexico playing their last two games of the year in MLS stadiums, which is always going to drop the average attendance for Mexico given the much smaller size of those particular stadiums.

While some fans in the US may get frustrated with Mexico regularly drawing bigger crowds than the US, the old saying goes “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Mexico drawing large crowds is good overall for soccer in the US so let’s hope that 2022 provides a nice bounce-back for them.