USA Soccer Maintains On-Field Success Against Mexico, But Mexican Players Reign in Worldwide Popularity

Jurgen Klinsmann recently named his roster for Wednesday’s US Men’s National Team (USMNT) match against Mexico in San Antonio, and it is chock full of MLS talent.  Midfielder Michael Bradley and defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Brek Shea headline the MLS players chosen to the roster, while Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore will miss the game due to injury and suspension, respectively. The USMNT and Mexico have a rich history and a rivalry that will be renewed in San Antonio, a site that holds particular relevance for these two countries given the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution in 1836.  

Every time that these two teams play, fans can expect a heated confrontation and plenty of excitement.  These are the two best teams in the CONCACAF region, and every game is a battle for bragging rights in North America.  The series first started in 1934, with Mexico leading the series 33-18-14 over the United States, although in recent years the tide has shifted to the US. Much of that, however, was due to the success of now-retired Landon Donovan’s teams over the past decade.


Mexico has not won against the US since July of 2011, and the US leads the series 12-5-5 since 2000. In 2012 and in 2013 the US earned a win and a draw playing in Mexico at the Estadio Azteca, arguably the hardest stadium to travel to in the world.  However, despite the recent spike in soccer popularity in the United States, Mexican soccer players are much more popular across the globe. This is particularly evident when looking at the Thuzio 360 database, which provides data on athletes and sports personalitiesranging from appearance and social fees to sponsorship agreements, and comparing Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandezto his USMNT counterparts. 

Hernandez, who plays club soccer for Real Madrid, has estimated fees of $100,000 for an appearance and $40,000 respectively for Instagram and Twitter posts. He also has 4.99 million Twitter followers. Many of these numbers outrank nine of the most popular US-based soccer players and Landon Donovan, arguably the greatest American soccer player of all time, combined.


The nine aforementioned players (Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley, Shea, Yedlin, Kyle Beckerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, and Nick Rimando) and Donovan combine for 4.04 million Twitter followers, nearly 900,000 fewer than Hernandez has by himself, according to the database. Additionally, they combine for an estimated Instagram and Twitter fee of $22,500 and $36,500, respectively, less than Hernandez’s $40,000 fee. 


Those 10 players’ combined estimated appearance fee of $162,500 does top Hernandez, whose fee is estimated at $100,000, but these metrics in conjunction with one another underscore how a Mexican player on one of the world’s most famous clubs can have a level of popularity so far and above nearly a dozen of the most well-known US soccer players.


One USMNT player who saw his popularity skyrocket following a legendary World Cup performance in Brazil last year, particularly in the elimination round game against Belgium, was Tim Howard. Howard has endorsement affiliations with Gatorade, Marriott, Nike and McDonald’s according to Thuzio 360, and commands an estimated $50,000 for appearances and $10,000 each for Twitter and Instagram posts. He has over 680,000 Twitter followers and 1.17 million likes on Facebook to go with his 390,000 Instagram followers. 


Across the board, the Mexican superstar that plays in Spain exhibits far higher popularity metrics in terms of appearance fees and social media following.  It is a fun exercise to go through the Thuzio 360 database and understand just how popular international soccer players are worldwide. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the database as soccer, and in particular MLS, continue to grow in popularity going forward, and track how that compares to players from La Liga and the English Premier League.