When discussing sports analytics, the focus is generally on how well a team plays, or how skilled a player is at their work. This is understandable, as people want to be able to analyze the competition they follow passionately, using objective measures to understand what goes on in the game. However, this seems to leave out an important aspect of the game that often goes unnoticed in analytics, and that is the fans and their support of the team. Granted, it’s sometimes a bit tricky to objectively analyze what is, effectively, subjective support of a team. To New Mexico United, the fan support in this state is so overwhelming it seems pertinent to give it a go.
Currently, New Mexico United’s average attendance is 12,836, landing us squarely at the top of the United Soccer League (USL) this season.
If it wasn’t for Cincinnati's insane attendance figures (averaged 21,404 from 2016-18 in USL), our average attendance is the best ever seen in the USL Championship. It’s also better than MLS side Chicago Fire this season. Here’s an interesting thought exercise to put our attendance numbers into perspective: on an average match night our attendance would rank as the 16th largest city in the state (between Las Vegas at 13,753 and Portales at 12,280) and at our highest attendance night (when we hit 15,023 on Cinco de Mayo) we would have been 12th in size (between Gallup at 21,678 and Deming at 14,855).
As far as total followers go, we’re about average among the league (26th on Twitter, 20th on Facebook, and 9th on Instagram), but we’re a new club, and our page growth numbers are the best in the league in the “big three” social media platforms. Furthermore, when it comes to total interactions across all platforms, the rest of the USL doesn’t stand a chance. The median number of interactions in the league since the start of the season is 85,000. New Mexico United’s total interactions are over 600,000, 200,000 above second-place Phoenix Rising.
For some real in-depth stats, our total interactions are almost 4 standard deviations above the mean. This means the probability of these interaction numbers occurring by random chance is 0.000063. Things like this do not just happen, and this fanbase built around the team is significant.
The attendance numbers quoted above, however, were solely based on USL attendance, and New Mexico United has done much more than just play in USL this year. The international friendly against Cardiff City was a huge success, hitting an attendance of 6,347 people in a stadium which, listed on the website, holds 6,200.
The Open Cup run to the quarterfinals was pure magic and so many supporters were there for it the whole way, especially when we faced MLS opponents. Over a thousand of you traveled the 450 miles from Albuquerque to Denver, 200 made the 650-mile trek to Dallas, and finally, over 300 people went all 1,230 miles to Minnesota to cheer United on at Allianz Field.
In the end, the numbers just overwhelmingly support how amazing this fanbase is. From the data, it is probably the strongest in the USL and could compete at the levels of MLS clubs as well, and this is just our first year. More than the numbers, though, one can turn to moments like the end of the Minnesota United game. After cheering for 90 long minutes of being down by a large margin, the players came up to the New Mexico supporters section to recognize the support and, in that defeat, we cheered those players coming up to us as strong as any other time in our history. That’s true, heartfelt support that is rare to see and so powerful that objective numbers and analysis could never do justice to.