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Sounders are second most valuable team in MLS, Forbes says

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The actual numbers seem kinda made up, but the perception at least suggests a league on the rise.

Every year, Forbes puts out a list of MLS team valuations. Every year, they look at the publicly available numbers, presumably do a bit of reporting and then, voila, they get themselves a number that is based vaguely in truth but is mostly made up.

This year, the Seattle Sounders come in at No. 2 on this list at $295 million. That’s up about $10 million from a year ago when they were pegged as the most valuable team in MLS.

Why did they drop from the No. 1 spot? That’s rather impossible to know for sure, given the previously stated limitations of this valuation list, but the LA Galaxy did receive a nearly $50 million bump in any case.

Equally interesting is that the Sounders had the second highest estimated revenue at $53 million in 2016, about $10 million less than the Galaxy, who somehow picked up about $11 million in added revenue between 2015 and 2016. The Sounders are also estimated to have made $6 million in operating profit last year, although again there’s no indication if this would account for Nicolas Lodeiro’s transfer fee or, frankly, how they came up with the number.

So, yeah, you should take this information with huge grains of salt.

Forbes’ Top 10 MLS team values

Rank Team Value ($M) 2016 Revenue ($M)
Rank Team Value ($M) 2016 Revenue ($M)
1 LA Galaxy $315 $63
2 Seattle Sounders $295 $53
3 Toronto FC $280 $46
4 New York City FC $275 $34
5 Orlando City SC $272 $33
6 Portland Timbers $268 $44
7 Sporting Kansas City $260 $36
8 New York Red Bulls $245 $32
9 Chicago Fire $240 $25
10 San Jose Earthquakes $235 $34

What’s probably a bit more accurate is the general perception that MLS team values are on the rise. The average team is worth $223 million, up 20 percent from a year ago. That doesn’t include each team’s stake in SUM’s $2 billion valuation — for which there is a publicly available information due to the recent buyback of shares from Providence Equity Partners.

Adding some credence to these valuations is that ownership groups are apparently lining up to pay $150 million for an expansion fee. That’s a pretty remarkable figure when you consider the Montreal Impact paid $40 million before the 2012 season in order to join the league. MLS team values now compare pretty favorably with soccer clubs around the world.

It’s probably also worth noting that MLS teams are a relative bargain when compared to NHL teams, their closest competitor among North American pro sports. Just recently, the owners of the Las Vegas Golden Knights paid $500 million to become the league’s 31st team. The NHL has two teams valued at more than $1 billion by Forbes, and the Sounders would only rank as the 26th most valuable team there.

So, broadly speaking, the Forbes list would at least seem to suggest there’s some good business being done in MLS and that there’s still quite a bit of room for growth.

Beyond that, though? Be careful when tossing these numbers around as if they are fact.