Eastern Conference Leaders Getting It Done On The Pitch And At Box Office As League Continues To Flourish

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City FC is only in its second season of operation, but there’s no denying its impact both on the pitch and financially.

Despite mostly struggling and missing the playoffs during its inaugural season, NYCFC has quickly developed into one of Major League Soccer’s best franchises in 2016, as it is currently in first place in the Eastern Conference, one point better than both the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC.

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NYCFC has six games left on its regular season schedule and is 12 points clear of a playoff berth.

On Wednesday, Forbes released its list of the highest-valued franchises in MLS, and NYCFC came in at $255 million, just behind Seattle Sounders FC ($285 million) and the L.A. Galaxy ($265 million). NYCFC brought in $36 million in revenue in 2015.

NYCFC did not appear in last year’s Forbes rankings because the list was compiled based in large part on 2014 data. However, its place in the top three this year is impressive considering Seattle and L.A. are two of the league’s most revered franchises. The Sounders routinely lead MLS in attendance, and the Galaxy have won a record five MLS Cup titles.

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Playing at Yankee Stadium, NYCFC is averaging 27,253 fans based on 13 home matches in 2016, good enough for third overall in the league behind Seattle and Orlando City SC, the two franchises it finished behind in attendance in 2015.

Overall, MLS is experiencing exceptional growth as the average franchise is now worth $185 million, up 13 percent from a year ago and a remarkable 80 percent since 2013.

NYCFC sports three of the highest-paid players in salary and endorsements league-wide. Frank Lampard is sixth with $8 million in earnings, followed by David Villa (seventh, $7.9 million) and Andrea Pirlo (ninth, $7.4 million).

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The Red Bulls are 11th on Forbes’ list with a team value of $178 million, up one place and $34 million from a year ago.