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CPL Versus USL Championship - Which Has the Higher Standard?


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Having ever seen only three or four USL Championship games, and many, many more CPL matches, I am interested in your collective opinions about which league has a higher standard of play. Offering higher salaries, USL Championship theoretically would attract better players, but does that translate into better teams? Would CPL's top three of Forge, Cavalry, and Pacific be able to compete and make the playoffs in USL Championship? What about the weaker CPL sides? How might they fare? Would a typical USL side be successful in the CPL?

What are your thoughts? I would sure like to see some friendlies between the two leagues as those could, perhaps, tell a story.

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1 hour ago, Stoppage Time said:

Well, you don't.

Others may wonder how Canada's top domestic league measures up to the second tier in the USA. It would be good if Canadian clubs were perceived as better than US clubs IMO.

Outside of MLS fans no one thinks or cares about USL. There might be a few like us here who think or speculate on it, but we are an insignificant minority compare to the overall fan.

Casuals are aware that MLS is higher than CPL (everyone really) but USL is clearly a non factor for the average fan

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6 hours ago, Stoppage Time said:

Having ever seen only three or four USL Championship games, and many, many more CPL matches, I am interested in your collective opinions about which league has a higher standard of play. Offering higher salaries, USL Championship theoretically would attract better players, but does that translate into better teams? Would CPL's top three of Forge, Cavalry, and Pacific be able to compete and make the playoffs in USL Championship? What about the weaker CPL sides? How might they fare? Would a typical USL side be successful in the CPL?

What are your thoughts? I would sure like to see some friendlies between the two leagues as those could, perhaps, tell a story.

I am with Ansem in not caring. I am more interested in how it compares to other top tiers. So far so good!

CPL vs:

El Salvador - 2 W, 1 D

Panama - 2 W, 1 D

Costa Rica - 1 W, 1 L

Honduras - 1 W, 2 D, 2 L

Haiti - 1 D

Guatemala - 1 W, 1 D

MLS - 2 W, 3 D, 6 L

Total: 9 W, 9 D, 9 L

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I’ll bite.  I’ve saw a lot of the USL Championship when the Ottawa Fury were in the league and still passively follow it.  I liked the USL and was impressed by some of the teams and less so in others.  Personally, I think the CPL is more competitive and balanced overall.  

Do I think a Louisville, Tampa Bay or Phoenix is better than Forge or this year’s Pacific?  No, I think they are pretty even.  

Do I think they are better than York United or Atletico Ottawa?  In my opinion, without question.  

But I also think the bottom sides in CPL are better than most of the MLS reserve sides in USL.

The USL also has a head start and some significant market advantages which the CPL hopefully will be reap in the next few years.  But to answer your question @Stoppage Time, yes, some Canadians will make more in USL but only at the bigger clubs.  I don’t blame them for going where they can make a bit more money.  
Having said that, I am very proud of the CPL and personally prefer it to USL but that’s my bias.

BTW, I know a small minority of Ottawa Fury supporters who were livid they were forced out of USL.  Some are now back and follow Atletico Ottawa, others refuse to support the CPL and would rather watch USL.  It’s sad but true…

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I think it's pretty comparable however if you split the best players from all 27 USLC teams into 8 it would probably be far better than the CPL. The quality given the amount of teams is a pretty neat achievement for the MLS/USL pyramid and it's benefited lots of Canadians. We will get there eventually too.

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8 minutes ago, yothat2 said:

There should be a cup game with the champion of each league or a preseason game 

A pre-season tournament or at least friendlies makes sense in a normal world. Tournament opens itself up to "US second tier is better than Canadian first tier" jibes though but it is what it is lol. 

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I have a favourite USL C team, Louisville, so I think it's an interesting question. I've kind of wondered how a game between them and Forge would go. The USL C seems to have a few more veteran type players than most CPL rosters, but I don't get the impression they'd dominate the upper half of the CPL. It would be fun to see them play. I get the sense that the USL C is probably a bit ahead of the CPL, but not by miles.  

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OK fine, now I am curious how USL-C's record against MLS teams compares to CPL's.

2019 US Open Cup (2020 and 2021 were both cancelled)
3 W, 1 D, 10 L = 0.714 points per game

2018 US Open Cup (as "USL", before it became "USL Championship")
3 W, 2 D, 6 L = 1.000 points per game

CPL total = 0.818 points per game

So those numbers are pretty comparable. It might be interesting to check in on this kind of stat in the future, assuming the US Open Cup is revived.

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USL is very uneven due to having so many teams.

Our top clubs are better

our midtable teams I'd say would be comparable to theirs.

our bottom vs theirs is hard to evaluate...they have many 😁

Overall comparison varies on what criteria you're going with. If you compare EPL to La Liga, not many cares about who's better between Norwich and Levante but we know that EPL top tier is stronger. But that standard, CPL is stronger.

If we're going "parity-wise" where people can't says who's better as long as top, middle and bottom aren't clearly ahead of the other - than I see why people keep saying it's very close or too close to call.

Forge, Pacific and Cavalry were flat out stronger this year while in 2019, Forge/Cavalry were just much stronger then their top clubs. Halifax was at the bottom and the Fury (midtable) struggled to beat HFX. Montreal had to work against York but TFC B team obliterated Ottawa that year.

So... we all have different metrics.

Edited by Ansem
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3 hours ago, Ansem said:

CPL has nothing to gain from this. Might as well have those with Scandinavian 1st tier clubs. 

USL has an history of not drawing in Canada after all

Don't necessarily disagree with the first bit but the Impact and Whitecaps both drew well in USL so the second bit is off base. 

Think it needs to be remembered that USL-C has no salary cap so it would be surprising if CanPL clubs could compete with the top end independent USL-C teams.

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47 minutes ago, Ozzie_the_parrot said:

Don't necessarily disagree with the first bit but the Impact and Whitecaps both drew well in USL so the second bit is off base. 

We have no clubs in Montréal and Vancouver currently. When USL were elsewhere in some of the current CPL markets, no one cared and are unlikely to care more now.

47 minutes ago, Ozzie_the_parrot said:

Think it needs to be remembered that USL-C has no salary cap so it would be surprising if CanPL clubs could compete with the top end independent USL-C teams.

True but I've yet to see a club spend to really take advantage of the absence of cap and put a MLS-lite team, the kind that could eclipse Forge. 

Why would they when the revenues aren't there unless you're auditioning for an MLS expansion?

Actually, the USL "self-discipline" is another example for why CPL needs to be less rigid with the cap and let teams spend more.

Edited by Ansem
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7 minutes ago, Ozzie_the_parrot said:

^^^what do absurd posts like this add to the forum? The Whitecaps regularly drew 5000+ to Swangard before moving to MLS and the Impact often drew 10,000+ to Centre Sportif Claude Robilliard before doing the same.

Claude Robillard had 10k seats?

Montreal drew those numbers thanks to their CCL run, which put them on the map in the city. It was niche before then but they were drawing in the range of ~7k pretty leading up to CCL

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Easy...easy.  Just to be clear your are getting your attendance stats from when??  Mid 2000's??  I was using the recent data, circa 2015-2017, when 2 of the 3 CDN USL teams drew poorly, lost money by bucket load and closed up shop.  I guess thats absurd. 

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...and this tangent will no doubt now go on and on if I try to reason with them. Would be interesting to see how the CanPL clubs would get on against the USL-C in a cup competition but there is zero chance of that happening despite the snub where Leagues Cup participation was concerned so this will always be a hypothetical.

Edited by Ozzie_the_parrot
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19 hours ago, Ansem said:

CPL has nothing to gain from this. Might as well have those with Scandinavian 1st tier clubs. 

USL has an history of not drawing in Canada after all

I beg to differ.  USL-C clubs would be better for a friendly to prep for CONCACAF Champions League or CONCACAF League than a European side.  And if you think people don’t know who Loudoun United are, they are even less likely to know a second tier Swedish team.  At least they have heard of Pittsburgh or Hartford.

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30 minutes ago, JamboAl said:

I beg to differ.  USL-C clubs would be better for a friendly to prep for CONCACAF Champions League or CONCACAF League than a European side.  And if you think people don’t know who Loudoun United are, they are even less likely to know a second tier Swedish team.  At least they have heard of Pittsburgh or Hartford.

I said top tier league not 2nd.

Post covid - I'd rather we play those friendlies against Central American clubs than USL.

Why not play a side that helps you prepare AND draw? Tougher competition isn't better prep? I beg to differ

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