Is Portsmouth better than the Chicago Fire?…and the current status of American Soccer
Soccer purists tend to exaggerate the reality of the state of American Soccer. They tend to emphasize the negative when referencing U.S. Soccer and they don’t want to accept the fact that of the world’s greatest Soccer leagues, it is only the upper-eschelon teams that are truly great. In the EPL, there are probably 5 great teams and the rest of them are very good, good and average. MLS teams would be competitive with all of the bottom 15 teams of EPL.
The purists want to influence popular opinion by granting God-like status to European Soccer, but the truth is that there are only so many great teams. This standard also applies to the Spanish, German, French and Italian leagues. MLS teams would battle most of the teams well (the bottom 75%), winning and losing close games. The top teams would give a whipping to MLS teams.
In terms of the Mexican, Central American and South American leagues, MLS would be competitive with all of these teams with the exception of the top tier two or three teams of Brazil and Argentina.
It could be that MLS teams have traditionally not played well in CONCACAF because of scheduling or that its relevance was low on the totem pole for general managers, owners and fans. This seems to be changing. There has been a lot more press regarding CONCACAF play this year.
The newest CONCACAF schedule was released yesterday. Look for MLS teams to give a good showing.
The truth is that the world’s Soccer leagues play just like MLS does. There is a lot of boring Soccer out there. There are maybe 20 great teams in the world that play with consistent innovation and determination.
The average Soccer league teams play an exciting game only every third or fourth game. It is the rules of Soccer that hinder teams and make their games so dull and lifeless.
The great teams can get around the lack of drama from which the rules stifle average and good teams because the talent is so much more superb. For these teams, the matches achieve a higher level of skill and action.
Don’t fool yourself and don’t believe the hype!
Check out the empty stadiums all around the world. These are the homes to average teams who play average. Relegation and promotion doen’t change anything, it only proves the point further. Teams fight to stave off relegation and fight to gain promotion, but the stands still remain half-full or even worse than half-full, regardless.
The U.S. team will make next year’s World Cup and has a decent chance to make it through to the second round. The second round would mean that the U.S. is one of the top 16 countries in the world. With a big upset, the U.S. could make the quarter-finals. This is awesome that the U.S. has a chance to make it so far into the World Cup, most countries would die for the opportunity just to qualify.
So where does the U.S. rank in Soccer? It’s doing well. The national team is solid and its leagues, MLS and USL are improving. But if MLS fails, and it very well could in the next 3-5 years, the U.S. Soccer world will turn upside down.