European Clubs Most Similar to MLS Teams

The average team in Major League Soccer, the top professional football league in the United States, has an average attendance of 22,000 and the average market value of the players on each team is approximately $44,000. (Statistics as of September 2022)

By comparing these two different metrics, a list of the 28 most similar European football clubs to MLS teams was created. Obviously, many clubs are significantly above or below these criteria. The league that has by far the most comparable teams to the MLS is the English Championship, the second division of football in England. Of first division football leagues, the Dutch Eredivisie has the most comparable teams. The following clubs are the most similar to MLS teams:

1. Birmingham City

Birmingham City currently competes in the second level of English football, but it had been a part of the Premiership several times in the past. Its stadium is similar to many MLS stadiums. It has a capacity of around 29,000 spectators, with an average attendance of 22,000. In addition, the value of the players on Birmingham City is estimated to be 38 million dollars, slightly lower than the MLS average.

Photo by Chris Wachtler

2. FC Basel

FC Basel is one of the most decorated clubs in Switzerland. The team has won the country’s title 20 times as of 2022. The value of the players currently on its team is estimated to be nearly 43 million dollars, almost the same as the MLS average. While its stadium is larger than most MLS stadiums, it still has a comparable average attendance for its Swiss league matches.

3. Lech Poznań

Lech Poznań is located in Western Poland. The club has won the Polish league a total of eight times. Although its stadium is larger than most MLS stadiums, its average attendance is almost the same as the MLS average. Furthermore, the value of its players is estimated to be nearly 38 million dollars, slightly lower than the MLS average.

4. Standard Liège

Standard Liège is one of the most famous football clubs in Belgium. It has won the fourth most Belgian titles, with a total of ten. Stade Maurice Dufrasne is similar in size to the stadiums of many MLS clubs. Furthermore, the team’s average attendance and the team’s average team value is about the same as the MLS average.

photo by Victor van Werkhooven

5. FC Utrecht

FC Utrecht is a Dutch team in the Eredivisie. Since 1970, the team has never be relegated from the top league in the Netherlands. It is one of the few clubs, outside of PSV, Ajax, and Feyenoord, to have won a Dutch title. The team’s average attendance is slightly lower than the MLS average, but the value of the team’s players is slightly higher than the MLS average.

photo by Christopher Elkins

6. Swansea City

Swansea City is a Welsh team currently in the second tier of English football. However, between 2011-2018, it was in the Premier League. The club’s stadium has a capacity of 21,000, quite similar to many MLS stadiums. The team’s average attendance is slightly lower than the MLS average, but the value of the team’s players is slightly higher than the MLS average.

7. Bristol City

Bristol City is yet another club in the English championship on this list. However, the club spent several years in the third tier and lower before 2015. The team’s average attendance is about the same as the MLS average, but the total value of its players is only 35 million dollars, around 10 million less than the average MLS team.

photo by Kevin M

8. Girondens de Bordeaux

Girondens de Bordeaux was once one on of the best teams in France, however recently the club has fallen on hard times. It was relegated to Ligue 2 in 2022. The team has a significantly bigger stadium than most MLS teams, however its average attendance is very close to the MLS average. Since the team now has financial problems, the value of its players is only 35 million dollars.

photo by Einer Fond

9. Stoke City

Stoke City spent many years in the Premier League, but since 2018 has been in England’s second tier. The team’s average attendance and stadium capacity is only slightly larger than most MLS teams. Furthermore, the value of the players on its team is 50 million dollars, a little bit more than the MLS average.

photo by Francesc Fort

10. Levante UD

Levante UD is a Spanish club located in Valencia. The team has bounced between La Liga and La Liga 2 for many years. It was just relegated again from La Liga in 2022. The club’s average attendance is around 20,000 and its stadium is only slightly larger than most MLS stadiums. However, the value of its players is about 10 million dollars more than the average MLS team.

11. FC Toulouse

France – Ligue 1

12. Arminia Bielefeld

Germany – Bundesliga 2

13. Twente Enschede

Netherlands – Eredivisie

14. AS St.-Etienne

France – Ligue 2

15. Vitória de Guimarães

Portugal – Primeira Liga

16. VfL Bochum

Germany – Bundesliga

13. Twente Enschede

Netherlands – Eredivisie

17. Sporting Gijón

Spain – La Liga 2

18. Vitesse Arnhem

Netherlands – Eredivisie

19. FC Metz

France – Ligue 2

20. Real Zaragoza

Spain – La Liga 2

21. FC Groningen

Netherlands – Eredivisie

22. PAOK FC

Greece – Super League

23. Preston North End

England – English Championship

24. Brøndby IF

Denmark – Superliga

25. Reading FC

England – English Championship

26. Krylia Sovetov

Russia – Premier League

27. Blackburn Rovers

England – English Championship

28. Cardiff City

Wales – English Championship

Data Table

ClubLeagueAttendanceTeam Value
Birmingham CityEngland 222,48338.45
FC BaselSwitzerland 124,25942.74
Lech PoznańPoland 122,56037.95
Standard LiegeBelgium 124,64041.75
FC UtrechtNetherlands 119,43846.86
Swansea CityEngland 218,73746.09
Bristol CityEngland 221,08034.98
Girondens de BordeauxFrance 223,43035.92
Stoke CityEngland 225,20050.33
Levante UDSpain 220,21653.46
FC ToulouseFrance 116,22445.54
Arminia BielefeldGermany 219,12735.31
Twente EnschedeNetherlands 127,16238.80
St.-EtienneFrance 228,40046.37
Vitoria GuimaraesPortugal 118,24934.76
Vfl BochumGermany 117,75051.70
Sporting GijonSpain 218,50533.44
Vitesse ArnhemNetherlands 115,34647.74
FC MetzFrance 216,58350.66
Real ZaragozaSpain 219,45930.42
FC GroningenNetherlands 118,30132.37
PAOK FCGreece 118,63956.27
Preston North EndEngland 214,16047.41
Brondby IFDenmark 113,72740.65
Reading FCEngland 214,99137.62
Krylia SovetovRussia 119,18228.96
Blackburn RoversEngland 214,55049.23
Cardiff CityEngland 231,40841.97

(team attendance base on highest average yearly attendance between 2018 and 2022.

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