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2013 MLS League Comparison - A Question


nolando

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Random thought but which league(s) in the world most closely resemble MLS in terms of style of play, overall quality of players, parity, budget?

I know it's a pretty unique league for a number of reasons but it has come a long way in recent years...so what do you think?

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Always think about the A-League. They got some good old players: del Piero, Ono, Heskey. They got a team in New Zealand. There's a salary cap.

Good points. Quite a physical league too - more brawn than finesse. Almost wonder if MLS is a mix of A-League, Championship and perhaps a decent level latin american league (Colombia?). hard to overlook the influence latin players have had on the league.

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From what I have seen of the A-League I would rate MLS higher. I would put the A-League somewhere between MLS and NASL. From the leagues I follow I would put MLS around the 2nd Bundesliga level. Always hard to compare MLS because of the salary cap and the resulting wage differences and team parity. The gap in MLS is between top and lower level players on the same team while many of the comparable leagues have teams with similar levels of players throughout an individual team but huge differences between the level of the top and lower table teams. In comparison with the 2nd Bundesliga I think the top 1/3 of MLS players are higher calibre than the top 1/3 of 2BL players but the bottom 1/3 of 2BL players are better calibre than the bottom 1/3 of MLS players. I think the ideal starting 11 of the average MLS team is better than that of the ideal starting 11 of the average 2BL team but by the end of a full season after injuries, suspensions and fatigue the 2BL team may be putting out a better squad. In the end I think it levels out and the level of play is similar. Compared to the Russian second tier which I also watch a lot I would rate MLS better though I would still rate the Russian 2nd tier better than the A-League.

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I wonder if this bottom 1/3 hasn't improved significantly over the last 2 or 3 seasons? It seems to me that the aggressive green carding of foreign players by some clubs, combined with the home grown player rules, has really limited the spots available for entry level NCAA players. It seems like even the high draft picks are struggling to find minutes now in MLS, where they used to occupy starting roles with more frequency. Even though their cap hit shows $46k, a lot of these kids are making significantly more with Generation Adidas.

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I wonder if this bottom 1/3 hasn't improved significantly over the last 2 or 3 seasons? It seems to me that the aggressive green carding of foreign players by some clubs, combined with the home grown player rules, has really limited the spots available for entry level NCAA players. It seems like even the high draft picks are struggling to find minutes now in MLS, where they used to occupy starting roles with more frequency. Even though their cap hit shows $46k, a lot of these kids are making significantly more with Generation Adidas.

I agree the bottom 1/3 has improved and is significantly improving for the reasons you mention and just a general improvement in the skill level of North American players. Still the bottom 1/3 is comprised mostly of physically gifted players lacking in technical skills and I think is still below the level of bottom 1/3 in the 2BL. However, there is a lot of room for improvement and the depth players are getting better every year. I don't know if MLS will ever reach the level of 1st Bundesliga but I suspect it will not be that far in the future that it is somewhere between the level of the 1st and 2nd BL.

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I would rank us as sort of a Argentina bottom third of D1, top third of D2 type of thing. A lot of Argentine players play in Brazil but no Brazilians play in Argentina. The Argentine league doesn't pay as well so while no official salary cap there is a defacto one. That and a lot of our best players play in other countries for more pay. I think MLS is ahead of A-League but slightly behind J-League from what I have seen.

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Based on the talent coming out of Japan I'd suggest J-League is more than slightly higher than MLS.

Would you also consider the Belgian leagues "more than slightly higher" than MLS too? I am genuinely curious, bc, personally, I wouldn't base the strength of a league on the talent coming out of it, but find it interesting you seem to.

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You don't base a league based on the players that grew out of it?? Good competition for places, and opposition breeds development. Belgium though seems to have some outstanding talents coming out and have surely made changes in their development model to make this happen.

The top Belgian sides would batter MLS. The mid-lower table sides would likely be "competitive" or "struggle" against MLS.

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One word: Jarju!

haha, magic!

No, Thiku, I don't base a league based on the players that grew out of it - not solely anyway. It may be a part of the argument, but IMO, it's certainly not the determining factor.

The English PL is vastly superior to the players it produces. I would also argue Uruguay and Holland produce better players than the standard of their respective leagues' play.

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Not too sure about league "style of play" but if I were simply to compare Strenght of the teams I would say Polish T-Mobile Ekstraklasa. Out of 16teams only 3-4 have actually "somewhat" balanced books. Half the league is bleeding red, and a few are just simply bankrupt. All 3Canadian MLS teams would be able to hold somewhere around the middle of the table fairly easily.

To top it off, our 3MLS teams have a better attendance than all 16teams combined together.

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Torsten Frings rated MLS as 2. Bundesliga quality, although he felt that some teams would be lower level 1. Bundesliga standard.

He rated last year's (awful) TFC side as a bottom-feeding 2.BL side, and he said that LA and San Jose (last year's versions) would be at the bottom of the Bundesliga.

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Where would that put the top Mexican teams - considering most of the MLS has trouble with the top LigaMX playing at less than full strength... The gap is getting smaller but its still a decent margin. And LigaMX teams have trouble with the best of South America (which is not necessarily just the top teams in Brazil or Argentina anymore). There is a difference between top teams and the rest of the table but the LigaMX also seems to have a bunch of teams competing each year for the top spot.

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Torsten Frings rated MLS as 2. Bundesliga quality, although he felt that some teams would be lower level 1. Bundesliga standard.

He rated last year's (awful) TFC side as a bottom-feeding 2.BL side, and he said that LA and San Jose (last year's versions) would be at the bottom of the Bundesliga.

I think this is a really accurate comparison.

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Where would that put the top Mexican teams - considering most of the MLS has trouble with the top LigaMX playing at less than full strength... The gap is getting smaller but its still a decent margin. And LigaMX teams have trouble with the best of South America (which is not necessarily just the top teams in Brazil or Argentina anymore). There is a difference between top teams and the rest of the table but the LigaMX also seems to have a bunch of teams competing each year for the top spot.

This is simply not true. The Mexican teams have a very good record overall in the Copa Libertadores. Mexican teams almost always advance past the group stage and while they have never won the tournament they are fairly regular semi-finalists and occasional finalists. The last couple of years have been a bit mediocre in that sometimes only one or two of the Mexican teams have advanced past the group stage but for the previous decade they almost always advanced every team (and it remains to be seen whether this is just a blip in results but if not I suspect it has to do with the club teams of some of the lesser CONMEBOL nations starting to be more competitive). And as recent as 2010 Guadalajara was in the finals although they lost to Internacional. As a league the Mexican league is right up there with the best South American leagues especially given that they have a lot of good teams not just two or three top teams that have all the best players like many of the South American leagues. And in European terms the Mexican league is around the level of the Dutch or Turkish top divisions. It is a strong league.

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Torsten Frings rated MLS as 2. Bundesliga quality, although he felt that some teams would be lower level 1. Bundesliga standard.

He rated last year's (awful) TFC side as a bottom-feeding 2.BL side, and he said that LA and San Jose (last year's versions) would be at the bottom of the Bundesliga.

This is pretty much what I said earlier in the thread but nice to have it confirmed by a former Bundesliga player. There are some pretty ridiculous suggestions in this thread like the Polish Ekstraklasa currently ranked 21st in Europe behind Israel and Belarus and from which no teams got out of the qualifying rounds for Europa League this year. It is only ranked as high as 21 because many of the 2nd tiers are not included in the rankings. MLS is a much better league than the Ekstraklasa. Belgium is a bit harder to compare but Thiku is way off base in saying the top teams would batter MLS sides but they would be at the top of the standings. However, the quality of the Belgian teams drops fairly rapidly after the first 5 or 6 teams and the lower table sides would not be very competitive in MLS. I think the Belgian league and MLS would be pretty comparable if MLS had a similar salary structure to Belgium, ie. if you redistributed the players so that the top MLS talent went to the better teams and the rest went to the lower teams you would end up with a league very similar in level to Belgium. We should not overrate MLS but we should not underrate it either. European does not automatically mean good and while MLS is still far from competing with the top European leagues they are at or near par with a lot of the mid tier European leagues.

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Well Grizz if it comes down to it...and it honestly had to be first tier, I'd rate them somewhere, honestly, between the Greek and Danish leagues.

I mean it's really hard to compare the MLS to europe in general. Their leagues tend to have far less parity. The team that is on top one year, is probably going to be on top the next year. MLS doesn't work like that. But OVERALL quality year by year? It probably was Poland...in 2005. There's been a lot of improvement since then. Houston Dynamo or Montreal Impact would probably lose to Paok, or Olympiakos, but would probably cream the relegation zone teams.

That why comparison can be tough. You have to compare to the overall average quality of the league.

As for Belgium that's apt in a way too, as is Ukraine.

The question, though wasn't overall talent, it's what league compares the most in terms of style as well. Despite the diving, I think of MLS as very hardnose. I think that is where people are trying to use Scandanavian leagues, and why I'd say teams like Belgium, Ukraine and Denmark would be more comparable than say, my earlier suggestion of Greece or Turkey, where the focus is more offensive with good shooting, dribbling and ball movement, rather than hard nosed play and tough tackles.

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A conference league with no Relegation promotion, an unbalanced schedule and teams who can outscore other teams for points but still don't make the Post season. I'd say the MLs is beyond comparission. As in Your not comparing apples to apples.

I'd probably put that as an issue for the MLS teams going forward into CCL, as the Best team in the MLs does not necessarily win the Title.

However If you talking about the quality of the teams and players then I'd say Mid to Upper Championship. With an ability for the better sides to Hold their Own in europa league.

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This is simply not true. The Mexican teams have a very good record overall in the Copa Libertadores. Mexican teams almost always advance past the group stage and while they have never won the tournament they are fairly regular semi-finalists and occasional finalists. The last couple of years have been a bit mediocre in that sometimes only one or two of the Mexican teams have advanced past the group stage but for the previous decade they almost always advanced every team (and it remains to be seen whether this is just a blip in results but if not I suspect it has to do with the club teams of some of the lesser CONMEBOL nations starting to be more competitive). And as recent as 2010 Guadalajara was in the finals although they lost to Internacional. As a league the Mexican league is right up there with the best South American leagues especially given that they have a lot of good teams not just two or three top teams that have all the best players like many of the South American leagues. And in European terms the Mexican league is around the level of the Dutch or Turkish top divisions. It is a strong league.

It's also worth noting that because of the CCL requirements Mexico can't always send their best available teams to Copa Lib, no? Outside of Brazil and Argentina how would the rest of South America's leagues fair if it was occasionally their 4th to 8th placed teams playing in Copa Lib rather than 1st to 3rd?

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This is simply not true. The Mexican teams have a very good record overall in the Copa Libertadores. Mexican teams almost always advance past the group stage and while they have never won the tournament they are fairly regular semi-finalists and occasional finalists. The last couple of years have been a bit mediocre in that sometimes only one or two of the Mexican teams have advanced past the group stage but for the previous decade they almost always advanced every team (and it remains to be seen whether this is just a blip in results but if not I suspect it has to do with the club teams of some of the lesser CONMEBOL nations starting to be more competitive). And as recent as 2010 Guadalajara was in the finals although they lost to Internacional. As a league the Mexican league is right up there with the best South American leagues especially given that they have a lot of good teams not just two or three top teams that have all the best players like many of the South American leagues. And in European terms the Mexican league is around the level of the Dutch or Turkish top divisions. It is a strong league.

LMX is I agree a competitive league with a lot of money and good teams, probably 3rd after Brazil and Argentina in the Americas. It is really hard to compare and I agree that the Latin American leagues are stronger, which I think makes some of the Euro focus a bit pretentious.

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