LA Galaxy Overtaken As Forbes’ Most Valuable MLS Team In 2018

The Galaxy still rank No. 1 in revenue, but they no longer hold the top spot in Forbes’ valuations.

Just in time for the Major League Soccer playoffs to take a two-week break, Forbes released its list of most valuable MLS teams on Wednesday, and there’s a new team at the top.

The LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders were No. 1 and No. 2 in Forbes’ ranking of most valuable MLS teams in 2017. This season, one of the new kids on the block bumped them from their perch.

In just its second year in MLS, Atlanta United was named most valuable MLS team by Forbes.

Atlanta United is valued at $330 million, topping the perennial favorite Galaxy by $10 million. This isn’t a huge shock — Atlanta keeps breaking attendance records, has a team that’s fun to watch and has five players in the top 25 in jersey sales

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Slightly more surprising was that after Seattle in third came LAFC, another expansion team, in fourth. 

“I think Atlanta is getting a lot of attention,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told Forbes. “But I can't emphasize this enough: LAFC is an amazing story.”

Here’s the full list of most valuable MLS teams, according to Forbes.

Most Valuable MLS Teams 2018

Team Value ($m) Revenue ($m) Operating Income ($m)
1. Atlanta United 330 47 -2
2. LA Galaxy 320 63 6
3. Seattle Sounders 310 52 6
4. LAFC 305 n/a n/a
5. Toronto FC 290 49 -10
6. Portland Timbers 280 48 3
7. New York City FC 278 42 -15
8. Orlando City SC 275 44 1
9. Sporting Kansas City 270 41 2
10. D.C. United 265 26 -6
11. New York Red Bulls 250 38 -3
12. Minnesota United 248 24 -6
13. Chicago Fire 245 27 -12
14. San Jose Earthquakes 235 36 -2
15. New England Revolution 225 28 1
16. Houston Dynamo 220 28 -1
17. FC Dallas 190 34 -3
18. Philadelphia Union 175 26 -2
19. Real Salt Lake 170 22 2
20. Montreal Impact 168 24 -7
21. Vancouver Whitecaps 165 22 -3
22. Columbus Crew 160 24 -6
23. Colorado Rapids 155 18 -6

The Forbes list is based on estimates of team value, not including stadiums or real estate. 

Some interesting notes from the rankings:

  • Overall, MLS team values rose on average seven percent, though that was in part due to three new teams joining the rankings, two of which were in the top four. Average MLS club value went up four percent for the non-expansion clubs. The average MLS team is worth $240 million. 
  • The LA Galaxy rank No. 1 in revenue at $63 million, with Seattle right behind. 
  • The New York Red Bulls set the MLS points record this season and play in the nation’s largest market but still are ranked No. 11 out of 23 clubs.
  • The Red Bulls are at least doing better than the two Texas teams Houston and Dallas, who play in the fourth- and ninth-most populated cities in the country, respectively, but are ranked No. 16 and No. 17, respectively.
  • While Minnesota United hasn’t quite exploded in its first couple of years like Atlanta and LAFC, the Loons are doing well in the middle of the pack with a new stadium opening soon. 
  • Of the 22 clubs for which information is available, 15 operated at a deficit this past season. NYCFC had the worst operating income (-$15m) while the Galaxy and Sounders shared the best operating income (+$6m).
  • The only thing not rising in value in Colorado is the MLS club, which produced the least revenue last season of any team. The Rapids have finished near the bottom of the MLS standings the last two seasons and have struggled to put out a strong product, ranking last in MLS team value.

While Atlanta United will be happy with its success off the pitch so far, fans will want nothing less than an MLS Cup trophy come December. 

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