Ted Lasso and Welcome to Wrexham changed the way soccer fans watch the sport. The former made fans by presenting a fictional club in the world of British soccer; while the latter introduced fans to a once-great Welsh soccer team battling to return to glory. 

American soccer fans went wild for Ted Lasso and Welcome to Wrexham. Indeed, it isn’t just American fans that love the shows. Both amassed followings across the globe. While Ted Lasso hasn’t caught on in the United Kingdom as the show’s producers may have expected, Welcome to Wrexham caught the imaginations of many soccer supporters with its engaging personal stories. 

Soccer fans may wonder which show is worth their time. Ted Lasso offers fans 34 episodes running between 30 minutes and 50 minutes. Welcome to Wrexham, on the other hand, produced 18 episodes with various runtimes. Season 2 of Welcome to Wrexham is in the works, as cameras follow the Red Dragons for the 2022-23 season. 

If you had just one of the two shows to watch, which would it be?

A fantasy soccer world 

Ted Lasso is a fully fictional soccer television series based on Jason Sudeikis’s soccer coach character, Ted Lasso. Lasso, an American football coach from Wichita State University, is hired to manage AFC Richmond, a soccer team, of the English Premier League.

Much of the series’ first season is about Lasso creating relationships with co-workers, players, and the people he meets in England. It is also about Lasso learning the subtle differences between the United States and Britain. 

The show was filmed on location around London. One location is coincidentally in the town of Richmond, just outside the English capital. The locations are real-life places, including the pub featured on the show that Lasso regularly visits. Known as the Crown and Anchor on series, the real-life pub is known as the Princes Head. 

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For the soccer scenes, training sessions take place at Hayes and Yeading United Football Club. That real club plays in the semi-professional Southern Football League. The stadium in the show is Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace in the Premier League. In many ways, Richmond is an embodiment of Crystal Palace. A lower budget side fighting off relegation most seasons. Moreover, the two clubs share a color scheme.

Ted Lasso (available via Apple TV+) is a feel-good story about a person out of his depth, trying to navigate a world he doesn’t fully understand. It is charming, and entertaining, but lacks the laugh-out-loud comedy it seems to promise. 

A peek into the world of soccer outside the Premier League

While Ted Lasso offers up a look at the fictional soccer world, Welcome to Wrexham showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of British soccer. The series follows Wrexham Football Club after its purchase by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. 

The series has some of the best storytelling available from a sports documentary. Indeed, only Netflix’s Sunderland ‘Til I Die can compete with the stories told in Welcome to Wrexham. The show isn’t just about soccer. Most of the show is about the town of Wrexham, the fans, the running of a professional soccer club, and the desire to make it succeed. There are some fantastic characters that television writers simply cannot make up.

The popularity of Welcome to Wrexham in the US has led to many fans making the pilgrimage to the Welsh town. Wrexham’s popularity in America, created thanks to a fantastic documentary, has already led to the club being more popular stateside than some established Premier League clubs. Plus many soccer fans in the US may know more about Wrexham than Major League Soccer’s 29 teams. 

In the summer of 2023, fans will have the chance to see Paul Mullins, Ben Tozer, Ollie Palmer, and the rest of the Red Dragons in San Diego. Wrexham play a friendly against Manchester United on July 25 at Snapdragon Stadium. Wrexham’s average home attendance for 2023 is less than 10,000 fans per game. Snapdragon Stadium’s capacity is 35,000.

Along with seeing Wrexham live this summer, soccer fans in the US can stream the club’s matches live via National League TV. Wrexham fans in Britain can’t watch the team’s games unless they are shown on television or live in stadiums. However, fans in the United States get to stream selected matches each week. 

Which show is better: Ted Lasso or Welcome to Wrexham?

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Fans of fictional shows that provide an escape will enjoy Ted Lasso. Yet, it isn’t the knee-slapping comedy Jason Sudeikis was associated with in the past. Nor does it mean that many of its viewers are even soccer fans.

Welcome to Wrexham offers a far more realistic series on soccer and its intricacies in Britain. American soccer fans can learn a lot about soccer from watching Welcome to Wrexham (available via the Disney+ Bundle). The sport isn’t the squeaky-clean product the Premier League presents on NBC nor the sanitized product MLS creates. There is a rawness Welcome to Wrexham shows.

The characters are vulnerable, yet they aren’t created by a group of writers. There is authenticity to the show and the people. It is real life but not reality TV. For instance, Welcome to Wrexham is a TV show that shows viewers the reality of soccer with multiple viewpoints. For example, it has that of a player, a coach, a fan and A-list owners. If you have just one of the two shows to watch, Welcome to Wrexham is the one you should binge.

PHOTO: Apple