SAT, 8:45AM ET
NEW
LIV
SAT, 11AM ET
CHE
QPR
SAT, 11AM ET
ARS
BUR
SAT, 11AM ET
EVE
SWA
SAT, 11AM ET
HUL
SOU
SAT, 11AM ET
STO
WHU

The Guardian Dismisses Major League Soccer As “Not A Big League”

the guardian The Guardian Dismisses Major League Soccer As Not A Big League

The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, required listening among many soccer fans around the world, was very dismissive of Major League Soccer earlier this week on their Thursday Extra edition.

One of the questions from a Football Weekly listener was read on air. The person asked why there had been no mention of the start of the new Major League Soccer season. Sean Ingle, sports editor of The Guardian’s online site, replied to the question by stating”

“Well, we are an English-based pod and we try and cover the big leagues. MLS, as of yet, is not really a big league.”

To make matters worse, a few minutes later Ingle and his colleagues spent a few minutes discussing a complete non-soccer story, the planned unveiling of a Michael Jackson statue at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

The comment by Ingle is a slap in the face to MLS. I’d be interested in finding out what, in Ingle’s view, MLS would have to do to become “a big league.” The league already features several marquee players such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and Landon Donovan, among others. These are players that Premier League clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and West Ham United have tried to sign in the last two years. In addition to that, MLS is making great progress in the CONCACAF Champions League.

I find Ingle’s statement that MLS is “not really a big league” puzzling. How does he measure that? Is it by the interest level or page views on MLS articles on his Guardian website? If so, The Guardian currently gives MLS such scant coverage that it seems unfair. Interestingly, in a recent interview, Ingle said that the majority of visitors to The Guardian’s sports section come from the United States. While Ingle excuses the lack of MLS coverage on his pod by saying it’s not really a big league, the podcast still somehow finds time to talk about the Brazilian league, leagues in Eastern Europe, Scottish Premier League and Irish football.

I imagine that the real answer may be the British media’s lack of interest and knowledge about Major League Soccer. It may be their perception that MLS is not really a big league, but that perception may be in their minds rather than in facts.

Whatever the reason, I believe Ingle’s comment says all you need to know about how much importance The Guardian places on a fast and growing league.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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 →

129 Responses to The Guardian Dismisses Major League Soccer As “Not A Big League”

  1. alaboston says:

    MLS is not a huge league, but I agree they are bigger than a Michael Jackson Statue. I too would like to know what he qualifies as a good league. This is why I’m cheering for RSL, a team I don’t really like, to not only do well, but to win the CONCACAF Champions League and show well at the Club World Cup. I guess to some people MLS will never matter, no matter what they do. Granted he’s not completely wrong about MLS’s place in the world, but to not even give a passing mention of the league starting is bordering on ludicrous.

  2. Matt Cobley says:

    Are you honestly suggesting that the MLS ranks with the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga?

    The MLS is not a ‘big’ league. A couple of ageing stars out for a final paycheck does not give the league a talented roster. And most imporantly, people dont really care what happens in the MLS, it doesnt have much impact on world football who wins or loses, whereas in the big european leagues, as well as brazil and argentina, it does. Its not the British medias lack of interest, its the worlds lack of interest.

    Football is not like the other american-centred sports. Being american does not give you the right to be big. With this mindset, the next thing you know the MLS winners will be crowned world champions, like baseball, nfl etc

    • The Gaffer says:

      I didn’t suggest that MLS ranks with the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A or Bundesliga. But as alaboston says above, to not even give MLS a mention is ludicrous.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Matt Cobley says:

        It is not ludicrous at all. There is only x amount of time to devote to smaller leagues, you cant include them all. Im sure the australians arent up in arms because they dont get time devoted to them and they have Robbie Fowler there.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Why is there ‘x’ amount of time? They can easily add a couple minutes extra coverage at no cost to anyone. I’m not expecting The Guardian to cover every league, but it’d be nice for The Guardian to give MLS the respect it deserves.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Matt Cobley says:

            Why do you think the MLS deserves respect? Why should The Guardian add time specifically to comment on the MLS?

            Its this sense of entitlement that gives american sport a bad name. When the league has produced more than a couple of teams doing well in the CONCACAF champions league, maybe then it will ‘deserve’ these guys re-working their show solely to cater to one league,Until then, have some perspective, people just arent bothered.

            • The Gaffer says:

              Matt, there’s zero sense of entitlement. As someone who covers the beautiful game and reads all of the sports media, MLS should at least be mentioned by The Guardian. If not, they’re doing a disservice to its readers and listeners.

              By the way, who do you support?

              Cheers,
              The Gaffer

              • Matt Cobley says:

                I’m not saying its not worth mentioning, and I guess with it being the start of the season maybe more so, but you have to remember that few people outside of the States can name an MLS team that isnt LA Galaxy, and thats just those who spend their time online. Remember theres a huge number of people who don’t, and if The Guardian starts to mention these much smaller (in comparison to the likes of the big European teams) teams a lot in their blog, they could be turned off, and the podcast would lose potential listeners.

                And I support Exeter City F.C.
                In a wonderful coincidence (with the whole statue at Fulham FC story), Michael Jackson was our honourary director whilst his friend Uri Gellar owned us, many years ago when we were playing against amateur teams

                • Daniel Feuerstein says:

                  Honourary Director of Fulham? A sad joke. I heard he was friends of Al-Fayed. He wants to bring MJ’s fans to craven cottage for that statue as a publicity stunt.

                  Matt Colby, stop defending the stupidity of making an excuse for these writers and podcast hosts. They should watch the games to get a real look at how this league has improved. If they want to ignore it, then don’t bother making a mention either positive, or negative to MLS. Leave us alone and stop making a weak and pathetic point that they have no knowledge about.

                • Dave C says:

                  The Guardian is a British newspaper. It has no moral obligation to watch the MLS to see how the league has improved. And they can hardly “ignore it” – someone specifically asked a question about it, so they answered as diplomatically as possible.

                • Daniel Feuerstein says:

                  diplomatically as possible Dave C? How about some F’en honesty. Say something like this “We don’t know what the quality of football the MLS has because we don’t travel to the USA to see it.” That’s all they have to say. At least Sky Sports was at Red Bull Arena to report the match and yes I know they were really there for Henry. But at least they gave it good reviews.

                  It’s just pathetic they call themselves experts when they barely leave Europe.

                • Tim says:

                  Correction, when they barely leave England

                • Dave C says:

                  Why should they have to travel to the US to gauge the quality of the MLS?

                  It’s not a “top league” by any definition of the phrase, and I don’t understand how any one can have an objection to that. I’m not saying it’s bad, or not enjoyable to watch, but it’s not a “top league”, and holds little interest to the Guardian’s target audience.

                  As for calling themselves “experts”, have they ever actually described themselves as such? Do they claim to be expert of all leagues in the world? I’m on the Guardian’s sport page right now, and I don’t see any declaration of expertise.

                • Daniel Feuerstein says:

                  They sure act like it Dave C. Just for once they should be honest and say “We don’t know about MLS, we only go from what we hear. But that’s not good enough for us to say if it’s a top league” That’s it. Be honest and this post by The Gaffer doesn’t happen.

                  No matter how much you want to defend them, it’s not defensable.

                • Dave C says:

                  Dan, they were completely honest, and what they said is completely fair.

                  I think anyone who takes offence at what they said either has a severe misunderstanding of journalism, or a lack of knowledge of football in general.

                  The MLS undoubtedly is NOT one of the “big leagues”. I’m not saying it’s not a good league, I’m not saying it’s not getting better, I’m not saying it’s not fun to watch – it’s just not a “big league”. It’s just not comparable to the EPL, La Liga etc.

                  The Guardian is a British newspaper, focusing on what is of interest to British people. MLS does not fall into this category.

                  I don’t know why you assume that the Guardian is basing it’s opinion only on “what it has heard”. How do you know they haven’t watched MLS?

                • Daniel Feuerstein says:

                  Dave C Said “The Guardian is a British newspaper, focusing on what is of interest to British people. MLS does not fall into this category.”

                  THANK YOU! And that’s why they should just say we don’t watch it. No comments at all. Nothing. Leave it alone. Don’t assume what is or what isn’t a big league if you can’t send a reporter to cover the league or get a reporter from the USA who knows MLS and chime in on the podcast.

                  That’s all I’m saying. If they have no knowledge of MLS, KEEP THE MOUTH SHUT! Don’t bother to type an article when you have no F’en clue about it. Bring in someone to discuss MLS who does know about it. Or at least make contacts in the USA to give some facts. The next time someone asks about MLS, they will have some knowledge.

                  Simple stuff for such a difficult topic, which it isn’t.

          • alaboston says:

            I do understand what you’re saying, because a Major League Baseball podcast wouldn’t have a whole segment on AAA baseball, but when the season began they would at least make note of it. Maybe it is a sense of entitlement, but when Clint Dempsey and Stuart Holden, both products of MLS, are having very good season you would think there’d be a brief, “and America’s league, joke that it is, starts today”. Even a backhanded comment like that.

    • Think Tank says:

      i agree 100% especially about the fact that just because its american doesnt mean its the best. im a proud american but i HATE our mentality that either we’re number one in everything, our cars suck, our government sucks and our soccer sucks. lets face it. single entity may save the owners from financial ruin but its going to get the league no where in terms of performance. and what some people call mls “competitive” i call a bunch of grown men randomly kicking the ball in different directions hoping one gets in goal.

      I will give MLS the benifit of the doubt though. MLS doesnt get enough coverage. i watch SportsCenter and other sports networks and read the websites and MLS gets the bottom of the heap if their lucky even if its big news. but people please if you want MLS to gain respect and coverage you have to earn it, not sit and whine about how MLS doesnt get any attention, flashy ads and overhyping rivalries will only get you so far. prove it on the field.

  3. Alan says:

    Well, if they go single table, pro/rel, then… lol.

    No, I am not being serious. I just wanted to say it before some moron did. Seriously, they are still a growing league. MLS is not a big league yet. The top 5 in Europe are the big leagues. It will take time to be considered a big league, maybe years. MLS is still a really good league though that is growing. A lot of people in Europe have acknowledged that. As for The Guardian, I don’t read it. Its not essential for me as a fan of Domestic or International soccer. I am willing to bet that even those in Europe that aren’t stuck in this “English football is the best” bubble don’t read it. I would hope that MLS fans have their own opinions and don’t go off of the opinions of others.

  4. Woody says:

    Yawn.

    Chris, this is an attempt to make a story from nothing. MLS is not a big league relative to the long-established ones in other nations. MLS is growing, but it isn’t there yet… The Guardian podcast rarely mentions specifics of the lesser Euro-based leagues, so why should it spend time on the one from North America?

    • The Gaffer says:

      I disagree Woody. This is an important story because The Guardian is seen as the leader in football/soccer coverage. And if The Guardian is thumbing its nose at MLS, that’s a worrying sign.

      I’m not expecting The Guardian to have a weekly segment on MLS. But a mention that the new season is starting and that the league is expanding would be a minimum.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Alan says:

        I’m not so sure that The Guardian is the leader in soccer coverage. I have never heard that until you said that for one. Also, I just went to their Internet page. Here is what they cover. 90 percent is EPL, The Championship, SPL, and the Old Firm derby. 5 percent are tiny stories on Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Dortmund drawing with Mainz. The rest of the percent is just opinion. Now, where is this the leader in coverage of WORLD football. Maybe UK football and you care about the important stuff like Swansea’s win over Nottingham Forest, but not if you care about the rest of the world.

        • Dave C says:

          I’ve never heard the Guardian being described as a leader in football in general- English football maybe, but not football in general.

          I think if you want good coverage of La Liga, you need to read the best Spanish papers, for Serie A you read the best Italian papers, etc. For the best coverage of MLS…well I don’t know, but not the British Guardian.

  5. Chris says:

    If you think the MLS is as big as the Brazilian league or Eastern European leagues you can have yourself a laugh.

    30 year-old pensioners aren’t as interesting as the latest up and coming talent from South America or the news from top UEFA Europa League sides such as Spartak and Dynamo…

  6. Josh says:

    The MLS is a long way from being considered a big league. The big names you mentioned are all in the twilight of their careers and a guy like Freddie Ljubgberg went there and then left.

    It’s will be hard for it ever to be a big league because of a) the way the league is played e.g. Playoff system, games either win or lose, b) the fact that clubs are franchises and have very little history. They could easily uproot one dag and move to he other side of the country the next and c) the standard is very poor.

    • dan says:

      The standard is very poor?
      I’m sorry but I am sick of this statement about MLS, it has gotten millions of years better than it was. Did you see the opening games yesterday? There were SO many great matches and with GREAT atmosphere, I was surprised. The league looks like it has grown 10 years since last year.

      • The Gaffer says:

        I agree. The “MLS standard is very poor” is an easy line to throw out by many. It’s outdated and not an accurate reflection of the current standard.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • Al says:

          If the league 5 more years when the MLS has a decent T.V. contract 24 teams and the MLS/NASL starts a promotion,regulation format.

        • Think Tank says:

          MLS internally is one thing. within MLS parity, clubs beat each other to death over a 1-0, 1-1 score. players come here for the wrong reason thinking they are doing MLS a favor and NO ONE wants to come here unless its to live in a mansion in malibu or New york and get paid millions (murinho’s conditions in order to come to MLS.) MLS never won a CCL and boast their wins in friendlies instead of meaningful games. MLS standard may be higher than in the past, but its still pretty low

          • rbny4me says:

            MLS teams have won CCL. twice, i believe.

          • Think Tank says:

            @rbny4me

            you’re partially right. MLS clubs won the Concacaf Champions Cup twice before it was made legitamite. back then only like 8-10 teams played in a playoff style format. when Concacaf Champions Cup turned into champions league they revamed the play format and gave the incentive of $2 million i think (wont matter for mls clubs because if in a rare instance a mls club won the CCL, that $2 mil would be disstributed evenly among the rest of the mls clubs, hooray for parity) and the cocacaf seed in the FIFA club world cup. ever since then not one MLS club was able to come close to winning. RSL may break the mold but idk, we’ll see

    • nick says:

      Yea Ljungberg went from West Ham United to MLS to Celtic. So either a good player was playing in MLS or SPL is a retirement league. You can’t have it both ways. This is why MLS will struggle to get respect whenever a player does good people claim it is only because the league is bad and when a player does bad they still claim that proves the league is bad.

    • Tim says:

      So is the SPL not considered a big league, and are Celtic considered a small club? After all they did sign your example of a fading player.

      Let’s address your points nonetheless,
      a. Play-offs. A large handful of American Countries have play-offs, including, including Mexico.

      b. The franchise model is the model of the future for soccer. The Big clubs of Europe are run like franchises and not clubs. They are brands above all. As for the uprooting of clubs. Didn’t that happen to Wimbledon FC? Won’t West Ham be moving soon as well? It’s not impossible a club being moved around. Additionally, MLS has only moved one club in its entire history.

      c. Yes because Stoke-Birmingham reeks of pure quality and beautiful play

      • Sancho says:

        If it was written in Portuguese, It could be mistaken as a Brazilian debate…

      • Dave C says:

        SPL is garbage. Few people, even in Scotland, would dispute that, and Ljungberg’s signing just confirms it. The Guardian covers the SPL because it’s a British league, that doesn’t mean they think it’s a “bigger” league than the MLS.

    • Alan says:

      Did you watch ANY of the games last night? The standard is poor? Yeah, it is SOOOOOO poor compared to the West Ham/Wigan throwdowns and nPower football league.

      • Dave C says:

        Few players in the MLS would get any where near West Ham or Wigan’s starting XI.

        • Alan says:

          Whatever you say.

          • Dave C says:

            Well it could never be conclusively be proved either way, but I just base my opinion on how players move from one league to another.

            The players who have switched FROM MLS to EPL have generally been the MLS’s better players, and they’ve fitted in at mid-table (at best) clubs.

            On the other hand, players moving the other direction go from being no-name journeymen of the lower leagues in England, to regular starters in the MLS. I’m thinking guys like Birchill, Dichio, Huckerby, etc etc. In Birchill’s case, he’s gone from the 3rd div of English football (and by no means a standout in that league), to playing for one of the better MLS teams.

            Also, I look at how MLS teams can’t beat teams from Honduras and places like that. And the very best players from that country tend to end up at Wigan.

          • Alan says:

            Players in the lower European leagues also jump to the first and second tier as well. I am still looking for all those players from the US that go to tier 3 English football. There are very few.

            MLS teams are starting to beat various teams internationally more and more. RSL just beat Saprissa 2-0, but only beat the Earthquakes 1-0 in a game that could have went either way.

            Toronto FC beat a Honduras team in CCL. RSL topped their group against Cruz Azul, one of the best Mexican teams. The Sounders 1 victory in their group came from beating a Honduras team. Olimpia from Honduras were beat by Saprissa who were just beat by RSL. LA was beat by Puerto Rican Islanders one game, but they are the best team in NASL at the moment. I guess I just don’t see your argument as valid here.

          • Andy says:

            alan,

            the reason you don’t see many US players going to the 3rd division is that they cannot get a work permit. To get a work permit you must have international experience. Otherwise it is more difficult ; you must have youth experience in a euro league etc.

          • Alan says:

            Oh really? That’s the reason? And you have so much evidence of this? Players go to the first and second divisions, but they don’t go to the third division (that is so much better than MLS) because of a work permit? Wow, where is your proof of the 2 players that did this?

          • Dave C says:

            Alan, re: the quality of players switching from Europe to the MLS. Put it this way – would Chris Birchill get anywhere near even the bench of any team in the EPL? No he wouldn’t. He’s spent his whole career as a journey man in the lower leagues of England. Yet he gets into LA Galaxy’s team.

            I know people from lower divisions in Europe sometimes step up to EPL level, but supports my whole point. The very best players in the Championship or League 1 might get some playing time at the weaker teams in the EPL. Only the weaker EPL players accept a move in the opposite direction (usually when no-one in the EPL wants them any more).

            Likewise, the system is generally the same in the MLS – the very best players move to middling European teams. Europeans making the opposite journey are generally the weaker players that European sides don’t want. Obviously there’s the occasional exception to both sides of this equation (Donovan staying in the MLS when he could get playing time abroad, and older Europeans like Henry and Beckham who could still get some interest in Europe, albeit not at the level of glamor to which they are acquainted), but in general it holds true.

            re: why you don’t see many Americans in the 3rd div of English football: As Andy said, work permits are a factor. It’s fairly well known in British soccer that a non EU-citizen can only get a work permit to play in the UK if they’ve played a certain percentage of their national teams games over the last 2 years. If you’re already a regular player for the US national team, you could get better offers than English Div 3 anyway.

            Also, regardless of the work permit issue, I think the more significant factor is that the money in Div 3/4 (League 1 and 2 as they call it these days) is not good enough to entice people over. In fact, the money is probably better in MLS (hence why guys like Birchill, or Rooney’s brother, or Danny Dichio go to MLS when they get a chance, rather than kicking around).

          • Alan says:

            You found one example. Great. I can find plenty of examples of players moving from tier 1 or tier 2. The issue is not whether MLS is EPL quality yet as a whole. No, it isn’t and it might be. The issue is suggesting that MLS is tier 4 soccer or something stupid is just as ridiculous is suggesting that MLS is a top league.

          • Dave C says:

            Well the main point of the debate is whether or not MLS is one of the “big leagues”. If it was one of the big leagues, then it would be comparable in quality to EPL (and La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga), but it’s clearly not.

            As for whether it’s a “Tier 1″ league or a “Tier 4″ league, you are right that discussing that stuff is a complete diversion from the article. Those are not official terms with actual definitions, so I think it’s silly to argue about it.

    • alaboston says:

      (a) They actually do have draws now its no longer win or lose the playoffs are not just in MLS several other leagues have them. Granted many times they are avoid relegation playoffs, but they exist. Heck the World Cup ends in a single-elimination playoff after group stages. (b) I agree with your history aspect, until the league has –I don’t know– 30+ years this will stay the same. (c) is the standard as good as the big 4 (EPL, La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, Bundesliga)? No. Is it as good as the next four? No. Is it about equal with the next group? Probably. It is what it is, just like Euro Basketball Leagues and Japanese Baseball Leagues will not be as good as the NBA or MLB, MLS will probably not be as good as the top leagues, but to pretend we are watching a u18 tournament is crazy. LA, New York, RSL would all be competitive sides in most European leagues, and they have a 2.3 million salary cap.

  7. Amy says:

    I like Sean Ingle but they’re known to say some stupid stuff from time to time. When they were (rightly) coming down hard on Andy Gray et al., they made no mention of the times they’ve been derisory to women’s soccer in much the same vein.

    MLS is still a small league, still growing. It does have two teams with attendance several EPL clubs would envy, but it struggles with attendance issues and not getting the WC in 2018 was a knockback to making the game more popular here.

    However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting a mention for MLS’s opening day, considering the number of MLSers who are creeping into the PL and the number of former PL greats moving into MLS.

  8. dan says:

    meh his comments aren’t that bad.

    MLS is not a HUGE league, we aren’t a small league either. But if they just cover the 4 (spain, england, italy and germany) and perhaps even dutch and france then i would agree we dont belong in that company YET! But if Brasil or Mexico is there then yes we do.

  9. Daniel Feuerstein says:

    I know that MLS is not at that major level of leagues from the big four European countries. But there is tons of improvement that is being ignored by this so-called expert newspaper called the Guardian. We saw some amazing games in the first week of MLS and to not give it more than a few seconds is shotty reporting.

    I understand it’s a podcast, but still it’s a terrible job by these gentleman. But I would assume they would still be saying that Michael Ballack is still a failure because he wasn’t a premiership player.

    • Dave C says:

      Have the Guardian EVER said that about Ballack? I doubt it.

      • Daniel Feuerstein says:

        I wouldn’t put it past them or other english papers in London.

        • Dave C says:

          Daniel,
          I know you’re only a blogger, not a serious journalist, but still you shouldn’t say nonsense like this without any basis in fact if you want to have any credibility.

          Do you actually read the Guardian? If not, why would you assume they were critical of Ballack? If you do read it, and know of a specific example of them saying that Ballack was in any way a failure, please post a link.

          Otherwise, you’re just making a really weak strawman based on lazy national stereotyping.

          • Daniel Feuerstein says:

            See here is where you are wrong. That was said in an on-line English Paper. So guess what if one paper said it, the Guardian will agree with it. I wouldn’t have said it, if it wasn’t written.

            See, I maybe a blogger. But I take this stuff seriously. Because I believe in the American player, the American Leagues and the American National Team. If there was a player that couldn’t make a name in MLS and left, I would have said “He gave it a good try.”

          • Dave C says:

            That was said in an on-line English Paper.
            So where’s the link?

            So guess what if one paper said it, the Guardian will agree with it
            Seriously? I may be misunderstanding what you’re trying to say here, but are you saying that if one paper says something stupid about Ballack, then the Guardian must also agree with it? Like all British newspapers operate with some kind of hive-brain?

            I wouldn’t have said it, if it wasn’t written.
            Sure…so where’s the link?

            If there was a player that couldn’t make a name in MLS and left, I would have said “He gave it a good try.”
            I’m not sure where you’re going with this either. Are you relating this to Ballack’s time in the EPL?

            From what I remember, the general received wisdom about Ballack was that he was a great player, but never performed at Chelsea the way he did at Bayer Leverkusen/Bayern Munchen. But this was largely because his natural style is too similar to Lampard, so he was rarely allowed to play in his natural style. Since Ballack left Chelsea, several commentators have suggested that Chelsea are much worse off as a result.

          • Dave C says:

            I tried responding to this already, but my post doesn’t seem to be have been published. Apologies if it now goes and posts twice, but…

            I don’t really understand what you’re saying.
            That was said in an on-line English Paper – in which case you should provide a link for it, rather than just accusing the Guardian of holding the opinion that you ascribe to it (that Ballack was a failure).

            So guess what if one paper said it, the Guardian will agree with it – I’m really confused by this. Do you mean that if one newspaper says something, then the Guardian must necessarily also agree with that viewpoint?

            From what I remember, most of the received wisdom regarding Ballack’s spell in England was that he was never as great as he had been in the Bundesliga. But most media drew attention to the fact that this was largely due to the fact that he was too similar in style to Lampard, and so was not able to play in his best position very often. Several articles have suggested that Chelsea are weaker now that he has left.

            I could go and google these old articles to back up what I’m saying. But I think really, the burden of proof on this issue lies with you, since you’re the one making accusations of the Guardian. You should find an article in the Guardian that describes Ballack as a failure.

            Unfortunately, I think that you’re just assuming that the Guardian must be a garbage newspaper, just because it is English, and we all know some English newspapers are garbage.

  10. jonathan edge says:

    They also don’t mention the j league, Mexican league or Australian league. Do not be so upset or surprised. Just because we can play in concacaf does not mean we would make it in uefa competition. I love mls dearly, but i understand we are still a fledgling league. We will earn respect, but not through statements like this.our region needs to be stronger. Our league needs to be stronger. Hell we don’t even have established playoff systems or second tier football yet. I understand it hurts to hear it but we haven’t arrived yet.

    • epic button says:

      I think you made the most rational comment out of the lot. people either are soo blind by MLS that they refuse to see any fault in MLS or people are so ignorant they wont give MLS the light of day.

      i agree with you 100% the J-league is a hell of alot better than MLS and they arent mentioned. the truth hurts but lets turn constructive critisism into a motivation force to make MLS into a good league. we need to earn our respect instead of demanding it.

  11. Matt Cobley says:

    Honourary director of Exeter City. Yes, it was a sad time for our club. Now we’re completely owned by our supporters trust, only one of a handful of pro teams who can make that claim.

    The league improving is not really the issue here, is it? You have to tailor your media towards your listeners and potential-listeners, who, as a whole, are indifferent to the MLS. When the league truly improves, and teams start to win international competitions, then coverage will increase as people will be interested.

  12. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    I honestly couldn’t care less if The Guardian thinks MLS is a big league. And by the way, it’s not a big league.

  13. Billy Bob says:

    Hey, I am an MLS fan and have trouble with all the euro-fans poo poo ing our league.

    Still, I frankly think it’s CRAZY for you to expect the Guardian to mention us. It’s a BRITISH PAPER, they cater to their readers and obviously their readers aren’t interested in MLS. Does this surprise you? Does the Guardian mention Tippeligean? Or SuperLiga? or the Austrian Bundesliga?

    Domestic soccer is buried under Tennis, Golf and MMA, not to mention Euro soccer in our domestic press, so why should foriegn press even give a hoot about it?

    We don’t care what happens in Turkish basketball just cause Allen Iverson’s in it.

  14. Sancho says:

    The “battle” is within the US. It will take some years in order to MLS force the stablishment of a “Big-5″. If MLS make it, than it will be impossible The Guardian to say what it have said.

    What MLS needs internationally is wins in CCL and good games at the Club’s World Cup. Internally, it needs to raise attendance and TV ratings.

    Best.

  15. Jason says:

    I’m wondering if you think teams like Stoke, Birmingham, or West Brom would tear through MLS? I don think so.

    • Dave C says:

      Hypothetical, but I think they’d certainly be competing at the very top end of MLS.

      On the other hand, I don’t think any MLS team would survive relegation if it was transplanted into the EPL.

      • Alan says:

        Real Salt Lake or Red Bulls couldn’t possibly survive against Wolverhampton, West Ham, Birmingham, or Wigan?

        • Dave C says:

          I don’t think they could finish above all three of them over 38 games, no. Why do you think they could?

          • Alan says:

            Because none of those 4 teams are better than the best MLS has to offer. Have you watched any of these EPL teams play each other when they are not being whipping boys for Man U or Chelsea? Watch an epic Wigan/West Ham encounter and then watch two of the best MLS teams face off.

          • Andy says:

            wigan/west ham is still a much better game than anything MLS has to offer. The talent is much better for one. The pace is much better. But so is the passion. Both teams are near the relegation zone and giving 100%.

            MLS teams don’t give 100% during the regular season. When over half the league makes a playoff to decide a league winner there is no incentive giving it your all knowing that the game has very little consequence.

            look at sports leagues where half the league makes playoffs. In the NBA during the regular season no one plays defense. The NHL regular season is tame compared to the playoffs, when players actually give it their all. So the MLS regular season is different how? You’ve even had MLS players admit that not everyone tries their hardest during the regular season.

            this is why MLS is not a proper league.

          • Alan says:

            A comment like this just proves that you have no idea what you are talking about. First of all, who says there is no incentive? You? Come on. So, RSL gave up near the end of the season last year? Really? Did you watch? Second of all, what consequence does any game beyond the top 3 or 4 teams have at this point in EPL? Almost all of them have no chance of making the CL or winning the regular season. The same top 5 are the same top 5 as last year. Where is Fulham’s incentive? To win an Europa league spot?

            As far as the latest Wigan/West Ham game, I will watch MLS and you can watch that while trolling MLS blogs. Their game play quality is so incredibly high I can’t even fathom it. I will stop all of the Wigan fans today in the mall that I see wearing their jerseys to congratulate them on having such incredible teams, because I see so many of those people everyday.

            Which MLS players admit to not trying their hardest during the regular season? Every interview that I have heard has teams and their players talking about different goals based on what they think they can achieve. Some say the MLS playoffs are a goal. Some say winning the cup is the goal. Some even say that the meaningless Supporters Shield is their goal.

            Have you ever watched a CL game in comparison to a regular season game? Can you honestly tell me that those teams try harder against a weaker side than against another CL team? Do you even watch MLS? I suggest spending more time watching it and less time trolling. You might actually have a clue then.

          • Andy says:

            you just don’t understand the sport of soccer.

            typical uneducated American fan

          • Alan says:

            Dude, you don’t know me. From what I can tell, you want to believe that you know everything when you readba bunch of stuff and think you know something. But I don’t know anything about you other than you are a troll that has an inferiority complex and feels the need to run down other people’s favorite leagues. My favorite league is neither EPL or MLS, but I am not stupid enough to refer to MLS, a really good league, as the best league in the world. It’s funny that anyone can lay that claim on EPL as well and overlook their problems. Typical uneducated eurosnob that doesn’t understand that soccer has nothing to do with pro/rel and single table. Soccer was here before that system and the North American system and it will be here after those systems.

  16. bradjmoore48 says:

    Oh wow, the Guardian podcast didn’t give any real mention of the beginning of the MLS season, but where’s the outrage for the start of the Russian season, most Scandanavian countries’ domestic seasons, and the J League (well, that’s been put on hold)? *sarcasm*

    First off, can people for once start to enjoy MLS for what it is and not be so damn sensitive every time someone makes even the smallest slight against the league? The league started last night after 5 months off, we had some great stories happen, why should it matter whether a UK podcast notices us or not?

    Second, the Guardian podcast HAS covered MLS before, they had a segment or two around the time of the MLS cup final with Leander Schaerleckens of ESPN.

    Third, the world, and thus the soccer world, is just too big to be covered in one all-inclusive place. I listen to the Guardian mostly to hear about the EPL, because I know La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga et al aren’t going to get quite the same coverage, but if I want Bundesliga coverage, it’s out there. It’s the same for MLS – this site, and others, provide enough coverage that I have no need to be bothered with the Guardian covering the league. The Guardian podcast is mostly geared to a UK audience who want analysis and info on the Premier League and some of Europe, but really have little interest outside of that. You should be blaming “small-minded” UK residents for that, and not the Guardian for that perception. And on that “small-minded” comment, let’s not forget, does anyone in the States watch Euroleague Basketball, or the Venezuelan baseball league? Nope. Why not? Because we have the NBA and MLB, the best leagues in each of their respective sports, and consumers want to see the best product they can. I don’t see too many Europeans get in a hizzy over ESPN not covering the Euroleague – most of them probably watch the NBA anyways. So this “those stupid limeys aren’t interested in our league” paranoia is just flat out hypocritical.

    Lastly, that same podcast they asked who had seen the Australian A-League Grand final. Silence filled the room. Any Aussies pissed about that? At least our final got some coverage.

  17. Bolacuadrada says:

    One of the things I do is read the news from other places. Who cares about what the English madia says. “Marca” had a big article about the MLS the day it kicked off. I always see updates when LA Galaxy plays in Globo Brazil. At least Globo is from the country who has won five world championships, not from a country that has not won the European Cup yet. I know it is not a big league for them, it is for me.

  18. Kasey in Australia says:

    Mate, why should the English respect your league when your countrymen don’t even respect it. I DVR’d Sports center last night here on ESPN Oz expecting to see at least a couple of highlights of MLS2011First Kick on the show but what did I get…60% of the time taken by talking heads about bloody college basketball AND one 5 second clip regarding the NON-gridiron play – no highlights there!, one mini clip of Charlie Davies scoring for “the DC United” and then crying in the post match interview, at least he made top10 plays as did a Barcelona rocket goal from La Liga, but you’ve got to be kidding me? This upcoming season has had the biggest buzz for an upcoming season and SC couldn’t even be bothered to throw together a “well here’s the goals from opening day” 5 minute spread. You need to figure out how to get Americans to give a rats toss about MLS before you start picking on the English for ‘dissing’ your league!

  19. Andy says:

    MLS is not a big league. It’s not even a proper football league.

  20. WonsanUnited says:

    MLS isn’t even the biggest league on this continent. There are so many other league that deserve more attention in Europe than ours. J-league, Mexican Primera, K-League, hell what about the Turkish and Greek Superleagues or Russian Premier League?

  21. Mike says:

    I don’t think it’s a big deal. They barely talk about the leagues in France, Holland, Turkey, Russia, Argentina, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc. Heck they barely cover Germany and Italy. It’s really just an EPL podcast + 5 minutes with Sid Lowe ballwashing Real Mardid/Barcelona.

  22. Norfolk Enchants says:

    The Guardian can suk me.

    The MLS isn’t a big league yet (it will be soon enough). That said it is a good league and I love being a fan at this point in it’s history. It will be huge someday. Also it isn’t bogged down with all the BS of the big leagues. There is something pure about it.

    Frankly I love it.

    The European Leagues shouldn’t get too comfortable. When the Euro falls apart people won’t be happy. EPL will be fine, they have the pound.

    • Brian says:

      It’s not bogged down by the same BS as the big leagues. It’s bogged down by completely different BS.

    • Andy says:

      can’t see MLS ever being a big league if they stick to the closed league model with franchises

      • Tim says:

        I don’t see many of the big leagues remaining with their lack of financial control.

        • Andy says:

          tim,

          oh yeah? so when do the big leagues fold then?

          • Tim says:

            When the loans are called in on the multiple clubs, especially the clubs that use all their profit before interest to then pay the interest of the debt. There is a reason the Bundesliga has taken measures to begin restraining spending and loans taken out by clubs.

            The BBC has done a very good job in covering the potential crisis if the world gets hit by another recession in the near future and how a majority of the clubs in the EPL and Championship would default and dissolve.

          • Alan says:

            No Tim, you just don’t understand anything. Andy knows everything about everything. EPL is all there is and you are just uneducated and don’t understand soccer. Sarcasm if it weren’t apparent. Andy needs to troll elsewhere.

  23. epic button says:

    Ok guys lets not get ahead of ourselves. we need to be humble and acknowledge the fact that MLS is not a big league whatsoever. you’d be foolish to say MLS is in the top 10 (id say barely scraping top 20) and theres still alot of work to be done with the league in order to legitamize our league. players come for one of two reasons, one to give their last hoorah and cash a huge check and be treated like royalty again and two to come to mls as a “incubator” league till they can re-establish themselves and move back to more competitive leagues. The way we decide our champion is a joke (idk about you but in the real world the Number 1 team deserves the cup, not a geographically confused #8 team) parity laws set a voluntary cap on the true potential of clubs and the single entity structure repels foreign talent and frightens domestic talent away because of low salaries (unless they are lucky enough to get a DP status), mistreatment and they dont get all of the players rights entitled to them by FIFA. not to mention we have a guy running the league who takes marketing issues more importantly than performance/quality issues.

    yea i know i sound harsh (and to you ignorant people eurosnobish) and i may not be a perfect example of a MLS fan but that doesnt mean MLS isnt growing. MLS has more to say than what Football league 1 was back when they first started (*fact EPL started in 1993). what The Guardian said may sound disrespectful they could have said it in a more objective way but i believe MLS will get to be a pretty decent league in 10 years when clubs become more stable, the training wheels are removed and MLS makes good exports. and with clubs like Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders having unique club structures that focuses more on youth talent we could get their in due time.

  24. Brian says:

    This is why MLS isn’t a big league: it and its fans have this inferiority complex, pathetically craving a mention from the cool kids.

    In the structure of world soccer, MLS is probably a lower third tier league or upper fourth tier league. It’s not the EPL or Serie A (not shock there). It’s not a second tier league like Holland or Portugal. It’s not yet even at the standard of the top Latin American leagues. Heck, our teams don’t traditionally do well even in the very modest CONCACAF Champions League.

    In a podcast like The Guardian’s with limited time, they have to pick and choose what they talk about. MLS is not a top league. I like it for what it is but I see it for what it is.

    The question isn’t why the British press doesn’t pay attention to MLS. The question is why should they.

    • epic button says:

      i couldnt have said it any better. i give your comment two thumbs up

    • Alan says:

      First, RSL has a good chance in the CONCACAF right now. Have you been watching? Nobody has really cared about it enough to do well, but they are starting to care more and more as they get better and better.

      Second, to say that they are a lower tier 3 soccer just makes you lose credibility. There is no doubt in my mind (being some one that watches a lot of leagues) that a team like RSL or NY could beat a tremendously talented side like Wigan or Stoke (sarcasm).

      • Dave C says:

        Oooh a chance of winning Concacaf? Against teams whose best players, if they’re lucky, might get a contract at Wigan.

        And I think RSL or NY would struggle to beat Wigan or Stoke. Just think – Juan Pablo Angel is still a hot property in MLS – in the UK he wasn’t even good enough for Villa years ago, when Villa were way poorer than they are now. I think that puts it in context.

      • Andy says:

        I could see NYRB beating a club like Wigan but I couldn’t see RBNY surviving a whole year in the EPL.

        I think your best MLS clubs would be mid-level championship league clubs.

  25. Brian says:

    And bear in mind, the MLS regular season doesn’t really matter anyways, especially at the beginning. The last two “champions” have finished in 7th place and 8th place in the regular season respectively. So why should foreigners pay attention before September or October?

    • Alan says:

      Those last two champions shined when it counted. They improved over the season to be the better teams. The top teams compete to win the Supporter’s Shield which gets them into CONCACAF. The mid level teams compete to get into the MLS Cup and to qualify for the US Open Cup. As for the regular season, the EPL and La Liga were decided last month. Manchester United and Barcelona for the win again. West Brom had a huge chance to win it all too. Oh, but wait…. Who is going to qualify for Europa League? That really has me on the edge of my seat. Not only that, but will Wigan survive being relegated? Again, completely riveted. Seriously, take that crap somewhere else.

      • Dave C says:

        The EPL was decided last month??? Really? Until this weekend, there was only a 2 point difference at the top of the league.

        • Alan says:

          At one point Arsenal came within 2 points, but did anyone think they had a chance? Read my posts from over a month ago. I said Man U has already won the league, and sure enough they have, AGAIN. Arsenal are the closest competitors now, down by 5 points, and they are STILL not going to win the league. I guess I should just stop watching now since the rest of the regular season of EPL means very little.

          I think you miss my point though. EPL is a two team race, at times a 3 team race, with THE SAME TEAMS EVERYTIME! Now tell me how much the EPL regular season means.

          • Dave C says:

            Yeah, plenty of people thought they had a chance. Personally I thought they’d blow it, but a lot of people thought they were gonna reel Man Utd in.

          • Andy says:

            Alan,

            at the beginning of the year it was Chelsea with the big lead. Then Man City was on top. Now it’s United with a 5 pt lead over Arsenal. However Arsenal has a game in hand and plays Blackburn next week. Arsenal still has 9 games left and the May 1st fixture with Man Utd looms. To say the #1 spot has been decided is lunacy. Though, I think you are just anti-EPL.

            Not only the top spot but there are still the #4 spots to play for to get into the Champions League. The CL is massive. Even getting into Europa is prestigious for some clubs.

            Then you have the relegation battle. Watching the relegation battle is sometimes more exciting than the top of the table.

            To say the EPL has been decided already is nonsense.

            Maybe you just don’t understand what a real soccer league looks like?

          • Alan says:

            Thank you for proving my point. A 2 or 3 team league at best, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man U fighting for the top spot again. man City was never a credible challenge. Maybe for a CL spot, which is going to be Man U, Arsenal, and 2 of 3 teams, same as last year. Do you wanna bet who wins EPL this year? Heck, I will bet my house that one of those three teams wins next year. You really care about Europa League? That is one of your arguments to why it is an exciting league, but qualifying for the MLS Cup is not?

            Watching Wigan battle Birmingham City is more exciting? I think YOU don’t have a clue. And, BTW, I like ALL football. Guess where you don’t see me though. That’s right, you don’t see me on EPL Talk being a troll trying to tear that league down. My point is that ALL leagues have problems. I am a big Arsenal fan too.

          • Andy says:

            MLS Cup is not a cup. It’s playoffs to decide a regular season league winner. And playoffs(to decide league winner) have no business in a real soccer league.

            MLS is a crap league because it refuses to follow what works around the world.

          • Tim says:

            Andy, according to you Mexico and Colombia do not have a real soccer leagues

            Also several leagues in the Americas have play-offs, its not some novel idea that is solely in the USA.

            Your logic is again flawed and uneducated.

    • Tim says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the supporters shield winner automatically go to the group stage in the CCL?

      Oh wait don’t correct me, I’m right.

  26. Dave C says:

    Wow this article is really clutching at straws to try and find some outrage here.

    Face it, the Guardian is a British newspaper, so it is primarily covers what English people find interesting, which isn’t MLS.

    Secondly, very few people would honestly call the MLS one of the “big leagues”. I don’t see why anyone would disagree with that, let alone be offended.

    Put the shoe on the other foot – do you think ESPN’s basketball shows dedicate any time to talking about the British Basketball league?

    • Tim says:

      It’s a post like this which draws in several group though
      1. MLS defenders-will die for the cause in how MLS is on par with the lower echelons of the EPL

      2. MLS Inferiority-complex Sufferers-these individuals don’t like anything being said about MLS that is negative

      3. The soccerreform.us Morons-people that claim that MLS needs to be exactly like the rest of the world and never support their posts with much in terms of proof of how something that works in another Country would work in the USA

      4. Eurosnobs-take shots at MLS because 1 and 2 will react and the Snobs believe that because of their diehard 3 year support of Chelsea or Barcelona, they know soccer better than anyone else.

      5. Trolls-people that troll 1-4 to watch their crazy reactions

  27. WSW says:

    MLS = Polish Ekstraklasa in quality of play and attendance-wise. Enough said.

    • Bolacuadrada says:

      Attendance-wise?
      How is 4,257 per game in Poland equal to 16,675 per game in the MLS? It is not even close. Not even the Russian Premier League comes close to MLS attendance. By the way the first weekend of MLS drew 21,046 per game and I will bet you anything that last year average of 16,675 will only move up this season.

      • WSW says:

        home openers:

        Lech poznan: 18,000..then 24,000 last game
        Legia warsaw : 22,894
        wisla krakow: 13,850, then 15,9000

        • Mike says:

          It’s a 3 team league?

          Come on son.

        • Bolacuadrada says:

          Do not single out games. I talk about average attendance. Otherwise I will cite the Seattle Sounders with 36,000 plus for each one of 15 games. The botton line is that the MLS has better attendance than every league in Europe except the Bundesliga, Premiership, La Liga, Seria A, League 1, Eredivisie, and England’s First Division. It is just a matter of time before the MLS surpasses the last two I just mentioned. It may even happen this year. So you know.

        • Tim says:

          Yet not one sold out their stadium

          Also only one MLS side had less than Krakow’s highest and that’s the Quakes with their 10k seater stadium

          I would also like to see how the rest of the league did in terms of attendance so we know you are not picking selective statistics

        • Tim says:

          Wait, I’ve got it:
          http://ekstraklasa.wp.pl/frekwencja.html?ticaid=1bfd8
          Avg Att: 8374, and that’s from the Leagues site. I can’t remember the last time an MLS match had 1700 in the stands.

          • Bolacuadrada says:

            You are right Tim. Your numbers for the Poland league are for the current season. The numbers I gave earlier were for the previous season and they were a lot worse. I am very pleased that MLS is top 12 world-wide in attendance (11 actually) for a soccer league. As I said earlier, we may end up top 10 by the end of this season.

          • WSW says:

            and they have pro/rel too, funny though that teams aren’t losing money. a more accurate site is this:

            http://www.90minut.pl/liga/0/liga4991.html

            plus most of the stadiums are being remodeled for Euro 2012 and some are being upgraded, so some of the sections are closed down.

  28. Bolacuadrada says:

    At least the main paper from the World Champions gave us some respect. They know better no to ignore a league with a huge potential of growth.
    http://www.marca.com/2011/03/14/futbol/futbol_internacional/america/1300120209.html#comentarios

  29. Charles says:

    What the hell is the Guardian ?

    And why do I care ? I don’t….why SHOULD I care ?

    IF the Guardian misses this weeks Sounder’s game, I am ok with that.
    They would most likely be as dumb like some of the people posting on this site.

    Let’s face it if Salt Lake makes it to the Club World Cup and beats the Euro Champs, only one thing is coming out of that. Salt Lake is 1/100th of the Euro Club and they got lucky.
    True or not, I don’t care to argue it…….

    …….but that being said, why should care what they think ?

    I SHOULDN’T. I never see articles about Japanese baseball either. A lot of those players can play too.

  30. Brian says:

    I was at Soccernet’s website and when I clicked on the Europe tab, it listed an option for “Other Major (European) Leagues.” I noticed the Scottish Premier League wasn’t in that particular place. Somehow, I’m guessing SPL fans aren’t so pathetically insecure that they are going to engage in a lot of hand wringing about this “snub.”

    I like MLS. I know the English cognoscenti don’t rate it (really, nor should they at this point). I don’t care. I know MLS isn’t a major league by world soccer standards. I don’t care. I enjoy it for what it is without being so pathetically insecure about what our “cool big brothers” in England thing. You should too.

  31. WSW says:

    I have to admit that the attendance is impressive, but the tv rankings suck and quality of play is more like scandinavian, eastern european leagues.

  32. over there says:

    First off, English sports “journalists” aren’t exactly know for their objectivity, lack of bias, informed opinions. They generally just talk out their a$$. This is yet another case in point.

    Oh, and Jonny Evans is a D!CK!!!!!

  33. Dee Wreck says:

    Since they’re covering Irish and Scottish football the whole
    argument argument that it isn’t a “big” league moot… That seals
    it for me right there: it’s just a load of crap and Sean Ingle is
    either a hypocrite, or a mindless muppett who doesn’t have the
    facts…MLS is a much better league than the League of Ireland, and
    competitive or even with the SPL. Attendance (arguably better on
    average). Attendance? MLS crushes both with nearly 17K to
    Scotland’s 14K and Irelands 2K. Frankly, Mr. Ingle is just full of
    fried fish brain goo. And his teeth are bad. ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>