According to Google, Wrexham AFC is more popular than every MLS team in the United States except Inter Miami. The 2024 data is from Google Trends, Google’s website that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages.

Owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, Wrexham AFC is currently riding a wave of success after — spoiler — the team was promoted to League One. The team’s incredible rise and the popularity of the Welcome to Wrexham TV series has jettisoned The Red Dragons into countless conversations in the United States about soccer. Season 3 of the hit TV series debuts May 2nd on FX and Hulu.

Wrexham more popular than MLS teams? Here’s what the research shows:

Looking closely at the data from Google Trends, the criteria measured each MLS team separately against Wrexham AFC based on searches made in the United States from January 1 through April 14, 2024.

The results of the data are eye-opening. For instance, they reveal:

  1. Nationwide, Wrexham is more popular than every MLS team except for Inter Miami. Led by captain Lionel Messi, The Herons are more popular than Wrexham in 48 out of the 50 states. In Montana and Alaska, Wrexham is more popular. However, no other MLS team comes anywhere close to dominating Wrexham like Inter Miami does based on searches in Google.
  2. In its state, and only its state, every MLS team is more popular than Wrexham except for one club. Outside of their state, there’s a big dropoff in interest in MLS teams. For instance, MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew are more popular than Wrexham in Ohio. Outside of Ohio, Wrexham is more popular than The Crew in the other 49 states.

    The sole MLS team that is less popular than Wrexham in its state is San Jose. Wrexham is more popular than the Earthquakes in all fifty states, including California.
  3. There are only five MLS teams that are more popular than Wrexham outside of their own state. Those are Charlotte FC, which is more popular than Wrexham in North Carolina and South Carolina. New England Revolution (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), FC Cincinnati (Ohio and Kentucky), DC United (Virginia and Maryland), and Sporting KC (Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska).

Findings illustrate one of MLS’ major problems

Major League Soccer has long struggled to create national interest in the league. If you live in a city where MLS has a team, most local fans are plugged into that team. But nationally, there’s very little interest in the individual clubs. Inter Miami has changed that by signing Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. However, the league still has a long way to go.

For years, MLS tried to force a national interest by often showing games on the FOX network involving teams from Los Angeles and New York City. As seen, time after time, the TV ratings for these games failed to generate much of an impact nationally.

Except for Inter Miami, the inability of MLS teams to move the needle nationally is a concern. Part of that may be historical. For example, many MLS teams had regional sports networks that would broadcast games. When MLS moved to Apple in 2023 with the launch of MLS Season Pass, MLS ended all of its local broadcast deals.

The magic of Wrexham AFC

Wrexham has been able to connect with soccer fans in the United States unlike any MLS team has done except for Messi’s Inter Miami.

In 2022, Wrexham co-owner Rob McElhenney said, “One of my intentions is to make Wrexham ‘America’s team.’ I don’t know why we couldn’t do that.” Fast forward to 2024, and it appears that Wrexham is well on its way to achieving that goal.

The timing of Wrexham’s promotion to League One is ideal for the club ahead of two major milestones: The release of season 3 of Welcome to Wrexham, and a summer USA tour where Wrexham will face Chelsea on July 24 in Santa Clara, CA (tickets are now available). There are rumors of a potential Wrexham against Arsenal game in Las Vegas, and it’s expected that Wrexham will announce more dates on their US tour soon. Wrexham’s women’s team is also heading to the USA this summer.

What about the MLS teams in Canada?

While not included in the above United States research data, how did the three MLS teams in Canada do in the popularity contest against Wrexham? Toronto FC fans will be glad to know that TFC is marginally more popular in Canada than the Welsh team. Vancouver Whitecaps and CF Montreal are only more popular than Wrexham in their provinces (British Columbia and Quebec, respectively).

Photo: IMAGO / Pro Sports Images.