2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer Is An Incredibly Fun And Affordable Rip
The popularity of soccer in the United States, as we all know, has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. The first beneficiaries of this development were the Premier League and World Cup.
But the long-suffering US professional soccer league, Major League Soccer (MLS), has also begun to reap significant rewards from this process. In some cities, the popularity of the local teams has skyrocketed. Ratings are also up.
And the arrival of Lionel Messi as the new signing of Inter Miami CF will bring an unprecedented wave of attention to the league.
For all these reasons, MLS cards may finally break through the noise and gain a more respectable footing in the hobby. Will the latest Topps release help this process along?
Read the 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer review to find out.
History of MLS sports card releases
You can check out my article here for a complete overview of the beautiful world of MLS cards and their history. The MLS was founded in 1993 to prepare for the memorable 1994 World Cup hosted by the US. At the time, soccer cards were rare.
That part of the hobby was still in its primitive sticker era. Therefore, in its first four years, the MLS could have enjoyed the benefit of steady card releases.
That changed in 1997 when Upper Deck first ventured into the muddy MLS collecting waters. The 1997 Upper Deck MLS set was quite ambitious, with an expansive 440-card checklist.
It also had rarity tiers, with each card coming in a base or gold variation. However, the set did not take off. After investing in it heavily, Upper Deck pulled the plug on the release, which needed to be present in the 1998 schedule.
1999 the Carlsbad-based company regrouped and released a minor issue, the 114-card 1999 Upper Deck MLS Sign of the Times set. I sure hope Prince got his royalties from them.
But either way, that release did not take off either. In 2001, Upper Deck stepped away from MLS cards, realizing there needed to be more hope of making a profit there.
Luckily, in 2004, Upper Deck tried again and had some success. The company found a good formula, which included autos and relics.
In 2010, they also began to include US women’s soccer players in the release. By 2012, the market was showing enough promise for Topps to step in and snatch the rights away from Upper Deck.
History of 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer
Starting in 2013, Topps began to release their flagship MLS Major League Soccer product. The consistency of the product has been good for the visibility of MLS cards.
They are now firmly on the radar of American soccer fans. However, Topps attempts to couple the flagship release with higher-end MLS releases have failed.
In recent years, the release has focused more on young prospects. In that, it took its inspiration from the success of Bowman baseball cards.
That strategy is good since the US has reliably created good young players. However, many go directly to Europe and never enjoy an MLS rookie card.
2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer release date
The release date for the MLS Major League Soccer hobby boxes is slated for sometime in September 2023. That is by no means an optimal release date for a flagship product. Topps is always cautious about releasing Series 1 before the MLS Opening Day.
But the MLS season has already been in swing for quite some time. It opened on Feb 25, 2023. Indeed, we are far closer to the season’s end, which comes in October, than the beginning.
That sure beats the Panini habit of dropping releases after the season ends. But that is a low bar indeed. The release date for the retail formats, possibly just blasters, has yet to be announced. However, we will likely see that on Target shelves about a month later.
2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer release formats
The release has settled into a comfortable routine of releasing a hobby box (just a standard one) and blasters as the sole retail format.
We have no reason to believe the 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer release will be any different. But in this topsy-turvy world, who even knows anymore?
Here are the specs for the two known release formats:
2023 Topps MLS Hobby Box
- 8 cards per pack
- 24 packs per box
- 12 boxes per case
- Hobby boxes are preselling for $64.95
- A case presells for $749.95
- Find 4 4 Icy White Foil Parallels per box
- Boxes include (on average) 2 relics and 1 auto
2023 Topps MLS Blaster
- 6 cards per pack
- 11 packs per box
- 40 boxes per case
- Blasters are preselling for $19.95
- A case presells for $799.95
2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer pros
The most precise and immediate advantage of this release is its price. In 2023, few products offer you a hobby box at a $65 price point.
That means that if you want to collect MLS cards because you are a hardcore fan or want something to open with your children, Topps MLS Major League Soccer fits the bill.
After consideration, I put the design in the pro section. There is nothing spectacular about the look of the 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer cards.
But does there have to be? Topps often blows it by being too busy and trying a smidge too hard. These cards are clean and attractive. In other words, there is nothing wrong with them. That counts as a win.
2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer cons
One major drawback here. There are no Lionel Messi cards in this release. Duh. However, they will be present in the Chrome and Finest releases for 2023. So, you may want to wait for those.
The 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer releases have always been thin on good autos. The lists could have been better; you can only expect one per box.
After rumors that the number of cards would increase, there appear to be two memorabilia cards and only one auto. So, that issue will continue.
However, it is worth remembering that this is a reasonably inexpensive release. Therefore, it might be unreasonable to expect a super-loaded product.
2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer checklist review
The first thing that jumps out when looking at the specs for this release and the pictures available is the higher quality of the relics. While some of these have been of questionable quality in the past, there are various beautiful-looking memorabilia cards this year.
Of course, don’t expect them to be worth all that much. But at least they are nice to look out for.
When Topps makes it available, we will provide you with the full 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer checklist. For now, we have the list of parallels in the base set for your perusal:
- Icy White Foil – 4 per Blaster
- Soccer Tile – 1:4 packs
- Blue Foil – #/99
- Green Foil – #/75
- Gold Foil – #/50 (Hobby)
- Icy Blue Foil – #/25 (Blaster)
- Orange Foil – #/25 (Hobby)
- Icy Black Foil – #/10 (Blaster)
- Red Foil – #/10
- Black Foil – 1/1
- Gold FoilFractor – 1/1
2023 MLS Topps Inserts
Topps has generally been weaker than Panini in producing inserts. They will need to work on that to fill the void left by brands like Prizm when the rights to basketball and football. And the MLS releases also generally suffer from this mediocrity.
The 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer releases have some fun inserts included.
Big City Strikers
According to Topps, this insert includes “20 cards showcasing the league’s top goal scorers and the cities they represent!” The cards are pretty rare, coming in at 1:144 packs.
They are a live-action version of Panini’s vaunted Downtown cards, showing forwards with the skyline of their cities in the background.
And if you ever wanted a card with the legendary Orlando skyline in the background, this is the set for you. Because these cards are pretty rare, to begin with, the numbered variants can have reasonably good value by MLS card standards.
For example, a 2022 Topps Chrome MLS Chicharito Big City Strikers Superfractor #1/1 recently sold for $244.
This spanking new insert comes in 1:6 packs. So, we can’t expect too much value from this item.
Topps explains the process behind these inserts: “The beauty and aesthetic of MLS’s various kits have been on full display recently, and we want to give an extra special spotlight to those kits that capture our hearts and eyes!”
Ok, but the picture shows a player in the relevant uniform. Kind of like any card ever. The background is in the team kit colors. But this insert looks like a nothing burger to me.
Topps 1983 Futbol
Topps is not as good at designing inserts as Panini. But one advantage they have is that the veteran company can draw on an endless supply of tributes to tried and true designs of the past.
In this case, as Topps explains, “A soccer twist on the classic Topps 1983 Football design, find your favorite players from across the league on this beautiful retro set.”
These cards are exceedingly common; you can find them in 1:4 packs.
This is easily the most intriguing insert in the release. Not trying to knock the others. But Pearlers, arriving one in every 1:288 packs, will be a big one.
Topps describes the release’s idea: “Beautiful goals deserve beautiful cards, so be on the lookout for these limited chrome tech cards giving the spotlight to the top goal scorers who score some of the most astounding pearlers in the league!”
The cards seem to be inspired by the Topps UEFA Champions League Pearl release. Some collectors wonder if this is a future Topps MLS Pearl release promo.
2023 MLS Topps Autos
As we mentioned, autos are traditionally a weakness for these releases. We can’t tell how well this series has fared in that regard because the checklist has not been released yet. But chances are, there will be nothing earth-shattering here.
The release will have auto parallels of all the base cards in the form of the Base Autographs line. They are limited to /99 or less. The autos are on stickers but are fairly well done. The base autos come in the following parallels:
- Blue Foil – #/99
- Gold Foil – #/50
- Orange Foil – #/25
- Red Foil – #/10
- Black Foil – 1/1
You can also find some fairly rare MLS Relics Auto cards. They come in the following parallels:
- Base – #’d
- Black – 1/1
MLS 2023 Topps relics
The relic selection is small. However, I like what I am seeing in two regards. The memorabilia cards are of a higher quality standard than in the past. Furthermore, they are mostly numbered relatively low.
- Base – #’d
- Blue – #/199
- Green – #/99
- Gold – #/50
- Orange – #/25
- Black – 1/1
But the items you want to pull are the following:
- Nameplate Patches (#/4 or less)
- Team Crest Patches (1/1)
These cards are excellent. But I wonder why, if Topps is already issuing Team Crest Patches, why not make MLS RPAs? That seems like a no-brainer.
2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer value
Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Nobody buys 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer as a get-rich-quick scheme. These are inexpensive cards, and their ceiling is expected to be low.
Nonetheless, it’s good to know if we are throwing money down the drain or if collectors can expect a return on their (albeit modest) investment.
In other words, we know that 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer is a rip. And if you are an MLS fan, a fun one. But is it also a hold? Are the hits worth grading and selling? We have answers in the 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer review of value.
The 23 Topps MLS Major League Soccer hobby boxes are inexpensive. Therefore, it wouldn’t take much to turn a profit on these. But on the other hand, the market for MLS cards isn’t all that big.
So, does the product have the value to justify an investment, even at such a low buy-in?
|2018 Topps MLS Major League Soccer Hobby Box||$105|
|2019 Topps MLS Major League Soccer Hobby Box||$49.95|
|2020 Topps MLS Major League Soccer Hobby Box||$150|
|2021 Topps MLS Major League Soccer Hobby Box||$63.95|
|2022 Topps MLS Major League Soccer Hobby Box||$34.95|
The first thing that will catch your eye here is the meager value of last year’s hobby box. That does not bode well for the value of 2022 Topps MLS Major League Soccer hobby boxes. But that doesn’t mean all boxes are doomed for low weight.
2020 has an excellent price because of the Brandon Aaronson rookie card. And there is a good chance more strong rookies will come through the MLS. So, considering a box can either sink by 50% or rise by over 100%, a box of this release can be classified as a gamble.
What about singles? The box is cheap, as we know. What happens if he hits a 1/1 or an auto? Can we make a reasonable sum from it? In other words, we know this is a fun and inexpensive rip. But is it also a worthwhile one?
Here are some of the best cards from this release purchased recently on eBay:
|2022 Topps MLS Nameplate Patch Relic Chicharito LA Galaxy 4/4 (Raw)||$999|
|2018 Topps MLS Alphonso Davies Blue Rookie /99 (PSA 10)||$268|
|2022 Topps MLS Gadi Kinda Gold Foilfractor #1/1 (Raw)||$243|
|2021 Topps MLS Image Variation Black 1/1 Rodolfo Pizarro #106.2 2b6 (Raw)||$230|
Cards from Topps MLS Soccer (as opposed to Chrome which has more) have few cards over $100 and even fewer than $200. So, making up several times what the box is worth is unlikely. However, at the low price point, it is possible to make back the money invested. But generally speaking, the resale value of singles is depressing.
Final word of the 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer review
In the final analysis, 2023 Topps MLS Major League Soccer is what you expect. A low-cost and fun rip with little (or almost no) chance of hitting anything huge. But I like this release anyway.
The design is good, and the addition of the Pearlers insert and nicer-looking memorabilia cards make this year’s release appealing.
In addition, MLS cards are most likely on their way up. There is more interest in the league and, therefore, more money. The signing of Messi, arguably the biggest one ever made by an MLS club, is a sign of that. That matters because it will keep more young solid players in the league. That will improve the value of rookie cards, boxes, and the entire release.