No fan in their right mind would confuse the level of play in Major League Soccer with that of any of the massive leagues throughout Europe, but that doesn’t mean the MLS hasn’t slowly but surely been gaining traction over the last few years.
Following the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 5-1 throttling over New York FC — which also saw the club become the first organization in league history to reach 1,000 goals — Galaxy superstar Robbie Keane spoke out about the trending nature of America’s top league: “This league is serious, said Keane. “Years ago, there were certain leagues that people wanted to go and play in. This is the league.”
According to Forbes, the money is certainly backing up Keane’s sentiments. Since 2013 — the last time the financial site looked the average value of teams ($103 million) within the MLS — the average value of each team has gone up to $157 million — an increase of 52%. Whether it’s the owners’ willingness to spend big money to attract top talent, the fans coming out in droves to support their teams, or big names from around the world actually considering the MLS a worthy destination, it’s clear this league is on the up and up.
Of course, as it is with all pro sports, some organizations find themselves worth money more than others. After looking over the financial data from 2014, Forbes was able to show by just how much. So with that in mind, here’s a look at Major League Soccer’s five most valuable teams in 2015.
5. Toronto FC
- Current value: $175 million
With 34 points on the year, Toronto FC currently holds the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Not only is this club firmly in position for a playoff spot but, according to Forbes, it is sitting pretty in the value department. Despite a 2014 operating income of -$7 million, Toronto FC brought in $32 million in revenue and is currently valued at $175 million. With a winning mentality and stars such as Michael Bradley (pictured above) and Jozy Altidore on the roster, Toronto FC should continue to keep putting goals — both on and off the field — in the back of the net.
4. Portland Timbers
- Current value: $185 million
Like Toronto FC, the Portland Timbers also find themselves sitting in the No. 4 position; albeit in the Western Conference and with 40 points overall. After bringing in $35 million in revenue last year and finishing 2014 with $4 million in operating income, things are looking pretty for the Timbers. Throw in the fact that this club has a profitable local media deal with Root Sports and also owns the Portland Thorns — which won the 2013 NWSL championship and is home to the extremely popular Alex Morgan — and it makes sense why this time currently finds itself with a valuation of $185 million.
3. Houston Dynamo
- Current value: $200 million
The Houston Dynamo are currently on the outside of the 2015 MLS playoff picture. However, as we’ve seen before, that doesn’t always translate to a loss in value. In fact, not only did the club move into BBVA Compass Stadium in 2012 — a $95 million project that was almost two-thirds financed by the team — but it also saw a 2014 revenue of $26 million and a 2014 operating income of $5 million. When all these things are taken into consideration, Houston has the Dynamo currently valued at $200 million.
2. Los Angeles Galaxy
- Current value: $240 million
With 46 points overall, the Los Angeles Galaxy currently sit atop the Western Conference and have the best record in all of Major League Soccer. As one of the founding members of the league, the Galaxy have had success on the field and popularity off of it. As a result, the money as followed. Los Angeles brought in $44 million in 2014 revenue and had an operating income of $4 million. Throw in the new 10-year, $44 million shirt deal with Herbalife and a local media agreement with Time-Warner that pays an average of $5.5 million a year, and it’s clear why this team is crushing it to the tune of $240 million.
1. Seattle Sounders
- Current value: $245 million
The Seattle Sounders are on the inside of the playoff picture by the smallest of margins. Yet, in terms of the value of Major League Soccer teams, they’re second to none. This club averages 40,000 people per game — the highest attendance in the league — had $50 million in revenue in 2014 and an operating income of $10 million. The Sounders are also fortunate enough to have Clint Dempsey putting on a show each and every time he steps onto the pitch. All of the above translate into a current valuation worth $245 million.
It’s safe to say Seattle knows soccer.
To see Forbes’ complete list of the “MLS’s Most Valuable Teams 2015,” click here.