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Supporters Shield standings based on Twitter followers

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Twitter has become a place for sports fans to keep up to date on their favorite teams. Social media has changed the way that we follow sports and twitter followers seems like a good way to measure how popular a team is.

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Since the inception of Major League Soccer, teams have been trying to gain a foothold in the American Sports scene. The popularity of MLS teams can be measured in many ways, such as TV viewership, merchandise sales, and attendance. The rise of social media has given us another way to measure the notoriety of a soccer team, by comparing how many Twitter followers each franchise has. European juggernauts like Barcelona and Real Madrid boast well over 15 million followers, while Premier League clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United hover at about 5 million. In order to see which MLS teams have the largest social media presence I created a Supporters Shield Table based on the amount of twitter followers each organization has obtained.

1. LA Galaxy- 216.7k

2. Toronto FC- 187.2 k

3. New York City FC- 175.7k

4. Seattle Sounders- 173.3k

5. Vancouver Whitecaps- 159.6k

6. Montreal Impact- 149.3k

7. Sporting Kansas City- 142k

8. Houston Dynamo- 136.9k

9. New York Red Bulls- 129k

10. Orlando City- 105.9k

11. Portland Timbers- 99.3k

12. D.C. United- 79.3k

13. Columbus Crew SC - 78.9k

14. San Jose Earthquakes- 74.7k

15. Chicago Fire- 73.4k

16. Philadelphia Union- 66.5k

17. FC Dallas- 66.2k

18. Real Salt Lake- 63.5k

19. New England Revolution- 53.3k

20. Colorado Rapids- 40.6k

Observations

1. The Los Angeles Galaxy led the way with 216.7 thousand followers. Their large social media presence can probably be attributed to three factors. The first is that they play in Los Angeles, which is the second largest media market in the United States. The second is that they have had tremendous success on the pitch over the years and are the first club to win the MLS Cup five times. The third reason is that they have been successful in signing various star players. In recent years The Galaxy have had big names like David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane on their roster. With Steven Gerrard arriving this summer, their trend of signing top players does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.

2. Both expansion teams are currently amongst the top 10 clubs with the most followers. NYCFC and Orlando City SC have managed to drum up a lot of support from their respective fan bases and have jumped over many older and more established MLS teams. It remains to be seen whether or not the excitement surrounding these two franchises will die down over the coming years, but if they can build off of their current momentum we might see NYCFC and Orlando City climb even higher on the Social Media Standings.

3. The Philadelphia Union are currently ranked at number 16, with 66.5 thousand followers. Theoretically, the Union should be higher on the list, due to the fact that Philadelphia is one of the biggest media markets in the US. Various causes can be attributed to the lack of followers, but the two main reasons are probably a lack of success on the field and difficulty gaining media attention in a city with a crowded sports market. Fortunately for Union fans, the franchise is still very young and has time to grow. If the club can figure out a way to put a winning team on the field in the coming years I would expect Philadelphia to make a big move up the standings.

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