Attendance is one of the most significant metrics used to gauge the growth of soccer in the United States. Bigger crowds mean more eyeballs and more money. That, in theory, leads back to more sizeable crowds until it becomes a self-sustaining cycle.

In 2023, it was a remarkable year for many reasons, namely the introduction of Lionel Messi to our shores.

Here are the top 25 largest soccer crowds in the US during 2023:

Largest soccer crowds in the United States in 2023

Oct. 15FriendlyChivas vs. Club AmericaRose Bowl86,134
July 22FriendlyManchester United vs. ArsenalMetLife Stadium82,262
July 4MLSLA Galaxy vs. LAFCRose Bowl82,110
July 29FriendlyBarcelona vs. Real MadridAT&T Stadium82,026
July 16Gold CupMexico vs. PanamaSoFi Stadium72,963
Sept. 16MLSAtlanta United vs. Inter MiamiMercedes-Benz Stadium71,635
July 23FriendlyReal Madrid vs. AC MilanRose Bowl70,814
July 26FriendlyChelsea vs. Newcastle & Brentford vs. BrightonMercedes-Benz Stadium70,789
July 26FriendlyArsenal vs. BarcelonaSoFi Stadium70,223
Feb. 25MLSCharlotte FC vs. New England RevolutionBank of America Stadium69,345
July 26FriendlyReal Madrid vs. Manchester UnitedNRG Stadium67,801
Feb. 25MLSAtlanta United vs. San Jose EarthquakesMercedes-Benz Stadium67,538
Aug. 26MLSAtlanta United vs. Nashville SCMercedes-Benz Stadium67,514
June 25Gold CupMexico vs. Honduras & Haiti vs. QatarNRG Stadium66,255
Oct. 21MLSCharlotte FC vs. Inter MiamiBank of America Stadium66,101
July 22FriendlyChelsea vs. BrightonLincoln Financial Field65,128
June 15Nations LeagueUSA vs. Mexico & Canada vs. PanamaAllegiant Stadium65,000
Dec. 16FriendlyMexico vs. ColombiaLA Coliseum64,609
Aug. 2FriendlyJuventus vs. Real MadridCamping World Stadium63,503
Oct. 17FriendlyMexico vs. GermanyLincoln Financial Field62,284
Oct. 4MLSChicago Fire vs. Inter MiamiSoldier Field62,124
Oct. 14FriendlyMexico vs. GhanaBank of America Stadium60,963
July 8Gold CupMexico vs. Costa Rica & Panama vs. QatarAT&T Stadium60,355
July 2Gold CupQatar vs. Mexico & Jamaica vs. St. Kitts & NevisLevi’s Stadium60,347
April 19FriendlyUSA vs. MexicoState Farm Stadium55,730

Messi-mania plays a part

All told, there were 54 games played in the US in 2023 that drew over 40,000 people. That number is up from 38 such games last year. And it is also up compared to 2021 when there were only 28 such games. The crowds can be broken down as follows:

  • 26 crowds in the 40,000’s
  • 4 crowds in the 50,000’s
  • 15 crowds in the 60,000’s
  • 5 crowds in the 70,000’s
  • 4 crowds in the 80,000’s

Messi making the move to MLS and signing with Inter Miami might have been the biggest soccer story in America in years. His arrival certainly helped boost the number of games in the largest soccer crowds in the US.

Of the 25 games on this list, seven of them are MLS games. Of those seven MLS games, three of them were Inter Miami games. Those games were on the road given DRV PNK Stadium’s capacity is 18,000.

European clubs continue to draw well

It has long been the case that European clubs are always well-represented in the largest soccer crowds in the US. This year was no different.

Eight of the games on this list saw two European clubs square off against each other. Additionally, a number of the biggest clubs in the world took part in these games: Manchester United and Arsenal from England, Barcelona and Real Madrid from Spain and Juventus from Italy.

Where are the US national teams?

US fans have been frustrated with the poor attendance for several years now. Last year, neither the USMNT nor the USWNT made the list of the largest soccer crowds in the US.

In 2023, the USWNT did not feature in the largest soccer crowds in the United States once again. The side had its worst-ever performance at a Women’s World Cup with elimination in the round of 16. Consequently, the side did not have a victory tour.

The USMNT saw its attendance improve in 2023 but they were only able to land multiple games on this list because they played Mexico twice in NFL venues.

Mexico fans make their presence felt

Mexico national team games always draw huge crowds. Just this year, the average attendance for El Tri games was 77% higher than the USMNT’s attendance.

This year, only three of Mexico’s stateside games failed to make the largest soccer crowds in the US. Each of those three still drew over 30,000.

But, also worth noting, the largest soccer crowd of the year was not a Mexican national team game but a Mexican club game. Chivas played Club America at the Rose Bowl in October and drew the largest soccer crowd of the year in the US.

The next five years could see explosive crowd growth

It feels almost like a broken record at this point, but the next five years of soccer in the United States could finally be what gets soccer on par with the other American sports leagues.

The year 2024 will see the Copa America played in the US. That means Argentina and Messi, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the US and Mexico. In 2025, the newly expanded Club World Cup takes place in the US. American soccer fans can see big-time clubs from around the world in real, competitive games. Finally, 2026 is the big one. The United States, Canada, and Mexico are jointly hosting the World Cup in that year.

In 2027, there is a possibility that the US will co-host the Women’s World Cup (along with Mexico). Rounding out a busy set of years, the 2028 Summer Olympics are in Los Angeles. While it may not bring every major name in the men’s or women’s game, it does signify more high-level soccer.

With all of those events coming here, the list of the largest soccer crowds in the US only figures to get longer and larger.