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MLS Snobs Need To Give English Premier League Some Respect

giants stadium mls MLS Snobs Need To Give English Premier League Some Respect

Have a friendly chat with a MLS Snob and one of the many criticisms you’ll hear from them about the Premier League is that “Sure, the top teams are exciting to watch, but the bottom has teams that actually hurt your eyes to watch.”

While in the past this was true, especially in the days when Derby County and Sunderland stunk up the Premier League, I truly believe the bottom half of the table has improved considerably in recent years, and most especially this season. As an example, consider these matches that were shown just recently on television:

  • Stoke City (11th place) 2-2 Wigan Athletic (14th place),
  • Bolton (17th place) 3-3 Manchester City (7th place),
  • Birmingham City (6th place) 2-1 Blackburn Rovers (12th place)
  • Everton (15th place) 2-2 Tottenham (5th place)

If you missed them, you should consider yourself unfortunate because each of the above matches played during the last week were classics. Last night’s game between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers was an extremely enjoyable match to watch as Birmingham City continued to show how they’re a force to be reckoned with with an exciting attacking style led by the explosive Jerome and Benitez partnership up front.

Blackburn Rovers last night weren’t too shabby either and gave Alex McLeish’s side several scares late in the match when they almost equalized. Champagne football? Hardly. But it’s definitely a much higher caliber that many Major League Soccer matches I’ve watched this season.

The same goes for Stoke City (the team that is often held up by MLS Snobs as being the worst culprit) against Wigan Athletic from this past Saturday. The game was one of the most enjoyable matches I’ve seen in several weeks and featured plenty of spectacles including Figueroa’s long-range goal, a penalty save by Sorensen and plenty more drama.

And the list goes on and on.

In fact, I would argue that most of the entertaining football this season has been outside of the Big Four. Aston Villa, of late, has been a joy to watch and they’re quickly regaining the form that made them so dangerous last season. In what seems to have been “the forgotten game”, the match between Aston Villa and Tottenham from a few weeks ago (the one that very few people have talked about), the game featured two of the most exciting teams so far this season playing head-to-head. And, for me, it was one of the most enjoyable games of the season I’ve watched.

You can go through the entire Premier League table this season and pick out really exciting games featuring all of the teams where the clubs have played a lot more open, free-flowing football that has been attractive to watch. This season more than any other of late has featured a ton of goals and we’re still only in December. Even Portsmouth, the club that is locked down at the foot of the table, have been wonderful to watch. The football they’re playing is more like a team that’s halfway up the table. The teamwork and attitude of the Pompey side under Paul Hart (and now Avram Grant) has been impressive.

The point of my post is that when you read or hear MLS Snobs ridiculing the Premier League, ask them if they’ve actually watched any Premier League games this season and tell them to name teams. Chances are they’re living in the past and simply regurgitating information they’ve heard or read by someone elsewhere because this Premier League season is nothing like any other I’ve seen in many, many years.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

27 Responses to MLS Snobs Need To Give English Premier League Some Respect

  1. Tom says:

    The MLS is a joke…. I don’t say that from the normal point of view of some European who never watched an MLS game but decides to trash the league on the basis of it being American, I say that on the basis that over the past number of years I have tried and tried to actually get into the league. Every season I get myself pumped up with the intention of following my local team and after a few weeks I cannot take it no more. The league has all the excitement of a high school soccer game. Never mind the bottom of the table, the Championship is miles ahead in terms of excitement and competitiveness.

  2. Jorge Curioso says:

    “MLS Snob”? Isn’t that like a “Denny’s Snob” or a “K-Mart Snob”? Does not compute…

  3. Tyson says:

    Didn’t realise there were MLS snobs to be honest.

    MLS is perhaps the worst league in the world who in that league could honestly be considered world class?

    Beckham hasn’t been a world class player since he left United and went downhill.

    I think its a lot to do with jealousy. People who are snobs only generally do something in the first place because its unpopular and in their view makes them look cool.

    They are probably only watching “Soccer” because it elevates their ego and then insulting better leagues.

  4. Gunner JD says:

    MLS snobs?

    Wait, what?

    Gaffer, I can hardly believe it was necessary to pen this article. You get stick from people who are considered to be (or worse, consider themselves to be) snobs? About the MLS? Major League Soccer? How in the world could someone be a snob about the MLS? What would one have to be snobbish about?

    To be honest, halfway through I thought you might be joking, like you were trying to be very tongue in cheek.

    “when you read or hear MLS Snobs ridiculing the Premier League…”

    I would LOVE to meet one of these people and ask them what they think would happen if the LA Galaxy or Real Salt Lake hosted a Stoke City, Birmingham or Sunderland-type team, not even a top level side.

    “Sure, the top teams are exciting to watch, but the bottom has teams that actually hurt your eyes to watch”

    This statement actually almost makes me angry. Have you really had MLS fans state this to you? Do they know how many MLS teams are painful to watch? I’d rather be forced to watch every single game of the season for Portsmouth, Bolton, Blackburn, West Ham, and Wolverhampton then watch a SINGLE match of any MLS team not in the playoffs. At least I’d get to see some real football.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Gunner JD, they’re out there. And there are plenty of them that continually bash the Premier League and feel inferior because of it.

      Other than the bloggers and fans out there that are MLS Snobs, the most prominent example are the Lalas brothers – Alexi and Greg. Here’s just one quote from Alexi Lalas (they are so many quotes to choose from, but here’s one example):

      “In England [MLS] is considered second-class but I honestly believe if you took a helicopter and grabbed a bunch of MLS players and took them to the perceived best league in the world (the Premier League) they wouldn’t miss a beat and the fans wouldn’t notice any drop in quality.”

      There’s more where that came from at http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2007/jun/19/newsstory.losangelesgalaxy

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Gunner JD says:

        Aw crap.

        See, I never had any real problem with Lalas’s commentary during the USMNT’s qualifying campaign. The subject was the American team and he seemed to have a good perspective on what we were doing on the pitch, and what our opponents were doing. I was like ‘ok, former US player of some note, reasonably well spoken, covering what he knows…’, but this bias wasn’t apparent to me.

        Now, I won’t be able to take anything he says seriously at all. Ever. I was hesitant to click on the link you provided, for fear of damaging my machine in a fit of anger.

        And then this statement: “That’s why I’ve been thrilled at the way Beckham turned everything around at Madrid”

        Are you kidding me?

        What really sucks about this is this contributes to the undermining of general US credibility when it comes to the international game, or hell, football in general.

        AND, US followers of ESPN’s coverage of said qualifying campaign are listening to this and thinking he’s delivering the truth and they may not know any better.

        This is not what US soccer (ahem, football) needs.

  5. AdamTheRed says:

    MLS Snobs?

    This is made up. I really don’t think that is a trend anyone needs to waste time being concerned with.

  6. Richard says:

    I’ve heard of MLS fans having a go at Europeans for being ignorant of the MLS and too focused on the EPL, which is probably a legitimate criticism, but it’s crazy to suggest anyone believes the bottom half of the EPL is worse viewing than the bottom half of the MLS! Millions of Europeans are put off football altogether by the daylight robbery inflicted on them by the EU (http://cli.gs/RD1vg8), perhaps the US has the same problems?

  7. Leon says:

    It’s bound to happen. Some people think MLS is great soccer, some people think Olive Garden is great Italian food, some people think an iPhone is a sign of intellect. Just like driving by a car wreck, have a look, move on, think nothing of it later.

  8. Reddevilmaniac says:

    Snob : “one who affects to be superior In taste or learning : One who regards wealth or position as paramount importance and who typically seeks to improve his station by associatiing with the rich or popular.”

    Now considering that definition of snobbery how could any devotee of MLS be a snob when it comes to any other league, with the possible exception of the A-league. Speaking as one who loves the MLS and am a Crew fanatic it wouldn’t be snobbery to think the EPL inferior to the MLS it would be insanity! I mean the midfield play alone in the MLS is enough to quash any thoughts of superiority regarding EPL, you talk about painful, I would love to be able to watch one MLS match where the passing through the midfield wasn’t erratic and untargeted I.e. My daughters rec. League. If anyone person not truly brain dead had to choose between any two EPl squads playing as opposed to any two from MLS it isn’t even close EPL. And let’s not even talk about Spain then it gets even more ridiculous.

  9. Ray says:

    I just don’t see this as a pervasive problem. The MLS is still a fledgling league and everyone knows it. Only the most insane 0.0001% of supporters could possibly fall into a “MLS Snob” category. This whole article disappoints me and needlessly pits soccer fans against one another.

  10. man99utd says:

    For those who do not believe the Gaffer, please read some of the posts on Major League Soccer Talk. At any rate, the EPL is simply miles ahead of MLS. But for me its not just the quality on the pitch, but also the quality in the stands (supporters) and in commentators box. The supporters, even away supporters, sing with such gusto its hard to hear anything else. Everyone always says “Americans only like the best”, but then whinge and moan when other Americans want to watch “the best”.

  11. Matthew N says:

    Yeah, this article isn’t going to convince anyone of anything. The mid/bottom of the table sides are entertaining and despite what people say, they do always have a chance. They might not have the consistency to finish at the top of the table, but they certainly can give the Big 4 a run for their money any given day.

    I didn’t know there were MLS snobs. I figure if you like soccer, you like soccer no matter where it is coming from (as long as it is high quality, of course). Many MLS snobs would call me a “Eurosnob” or “anglophile” but the reality is that I try to like MLS, but I also don’t see the world through rose colored glasses, so I can admit that MLS still has a ways to go quality-wise.

  12. Jesse says:

    Realistically, Real Salt Lake who won MLS Cup this year and the other top MLS teams would only compete around mid-table of the Championship.

    Take nothing away from the league, it’s getting better. But I truly believe the 3 relegated teams from the Premiership each year are stronger than any team in MLS.

  13. Julie H says:

    Im sorry…. I live in the USA and I am an MLS fan. MLS happens to be what we have here, we are not blessed to have 100 plus years of “football” heritage. I and ALL of my soccer friends also are avid fans of the EPL. ALL of my friends could name almost every team in the league. I have friends that are fans of the more successful teams like Arsenal, Liverpool, Man U or Chelsey, I have friends that are avid fans of teams like West Ham or Fulham or..yes, even Hull and the relegated Newcastle. I can honestly say that I have never met one of your so called MLS Snobs that has anything bad to say about British Football or its quality. We know we arent the best team in the world, far from it. But you have to start somewhere, and here we are.

    • vawn parker says:

      Well said Julie! We have to start somewhere and we are off to a great start. Personally, I just started watching MLS Soccer. I became a fan because I know one of the RSL players. My family has had a super blast watching the league this year. MLS Soccer is really catching on around here (Seattle)! We love it!

  14. Julie H says:

    Oh and PS…

    Lalas is a douche! (and you can add Wynalda to that category too)

  15. Evan says:

    That was some excellent strawman arguing, Gaffer. Rather than offering a comment from Alexi Lalas, who you surely must know no one takes seriously, why not offer quotes or links in your post, rather than saying what “MLS Snobs” say or write.

    For what it’s worth, I would consider myself a MLS supporter first and foremost. I want to see MLS continue to succeed and for teams to improve. I don’t consider myself to be a “EPL supporter” because of several reasons–while I like watching Man Utd (yes, American Man Utd fan here–feel free to have a go) and some other clubs, I simply have no connection to the league because I am American, I don’t have much interest in watching a game between two clubs that I don’t care about unless the action on the pitch grabs me, and finally let’s be honest…the Premier League is just doing fine without me “supporting” it.

    • Evan says:

      Let me clarify “connection to the league”. I grew up on the American sports leagues in the late 70s and the 80s. I lived what is history now. I’ve only read about the English game in decades past and watched the games. As much as I love watching it, I don’t have that intense personal connection to it. While I can follow the game as closely as anyone outside of England has been able to do now thanks to the Internet, I can’t have a conversation with someone about a game or a player unless they also watch the English league. Where I live, it isn’t uncommon, but it’s much easier to strike up a conversation about Randy Moss not trying than it is about Gerrard’s diving.

    • Matthew N says:

      I take Alexi Lalas seriously :( I think he will be great for the World Cup :(

    • The Gaffer says:

      Evan, the first sentence of the article has a link to a comment posted by a MLS fan.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  16. M. Garcia says:

    Assuming you’re not having a laugh, the contrast in the two leagues couldn’t be more apparent. I’m an American who has grown up on the big four sports like most others. When I was exposed to the EPL it changed everything. I’ve been across the pond several times since because I’m addicted to everything that is the EPL. Contrast MLS, which I have also attended, watched, and have tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to follow.

    Snobs? I find that so hard to believe. Why? Several reasons. The atmosphere of any EPL or Football League team for that matter. The football grounds themselves. The way, especially in HD, the english countryside looks between the stands when the camera pans the crowd in the middle of the game, light shining down through the perspex and reflecting onto the pitch, the rabid fans acting as if their children were on the pitch scoring that winning goal, in sum, the palpable passion of the game.

    MLS: The kits. Where else would you see one manufacturer (Don’t get me wrong, I love Adidas) monopolize the league and outfit every team with three stripes and in the process, sanitize the entire look of a league before the teams even step on the pitch. Venues. Until every team has a football specific ground, the sight of makeshift venues to accomodate MLS will continue to drag down the atmosphere and the quality of the league. This seems to be changing and that is a good thing (Red Bull’s new crib is fabulous). The commentators. Does this really need addressing? The supporters. I’ve been to Home Depot Center several times, up north to see the San Jose Earthquakes at the Oakland Coliseum (which by the way was the most dreadful experience at a football match I’ve ever had), and while there are some very informed supporters, there are loads of pretentious elitists who are absolutely sickening to hear if you’re unlucky enough to be anywhere near them. This aspect can only get better with time though.

    Final Analysis: Although the argument will be “give it time”, the thought of snobbery at this point in the evolution of MLS is laughable.

  17. Jon says:

    This whole article is a joke. The “MLS snob” that the Gaffer claims is out there represents a minuscule fraction of MLS and American soccer fans. What it is instead is an attempt to deflect legitimate criticism some American fans have of US fans (born and raised in America) that act as though they are true fans of Arsenal, Milan, etc. and don’t pitch in and do their part to make the game (and MLS) grow in this country.

    Petulant stuff, Gaffer. Get a thicker skin.

  18. bruce says:

    hey all
    i think the gaffer missed the whole point with this article – us mls snobs complaint is that all the teams in the epl outside a few have no chance to win the league, while every mls team has a chance every year to win the league.
    bruce

  19. Warren says:

    ? seriously? Bottom of the table teams are bottom of the table teams in any league. Do you really think, me being an MLS fan, do you really believe that I THINK my league is better then yours? Obviously we know it isn’t but it’s not horrible or anywhere close to horrible either. On top of this….the articles argument is about bottom of the table teams…like, who cares?

    I gotta give you credit though. I’ve never heard the term “MLS Snobs” before, its actually really funny. Now you guys know what its like to talk to most of you guys (euro snobs), lol.

    Everyone needs to relax and get back to watchin their football, regardless of whatever league you like.

    and btw, yes I do watch EPL on a regular basis. If you wanna make the argument that many mls fans criticize the epl without ever watching a game, that same argument can be made vice versa and even to a bigger extent.

    I’ll say this before and I’ll say it again, im done trying to “convert” people to mls fans. If you wanna watch our football, fine. If everyone wants to get their panties up in a bunch thats fine too. None the less we’d be glad to have anyone over here thats willing to take part in what we’re all just trying to do which is grow the sport in the U.S.

    Thank you and good day.

  20. Tyler Durden says:

    MLS snobs? That’s hilarious. MLS fans know where the league stands. Stating the obvious (that the EPL table outcome is predetermined) doesn’t make you a snob, except maybe in England where being anything but an obnoxious fucking moron is unacceptable. I can’t wait to watch England fail at the World Cup yet again and watch those fugly summer-tooth smiles turn to frowns.

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