Over the course of the last few years, discussion of what an open pyramid in the United States and Canada would look like has become a major talking point for soccer fans. In a closed league system, it’s difficult to conceive sometimes how sides would fare against one another. For example, USL, the current third division, is littered with MLS reserve sides while NASL, the second division, has completely different squad rules than MLS. In fact, the increased flexibility of building NASL rosters, for example the Fort Lauderdale Strikers who started the season with three high-end loanees from major Brazilian clubs due in large measure to the intervention of Strikers part-owner Ronaldo, would not be possible under MLS rules.
The change in MLS rules around midseason to allow one “Core Player” thus permitting the LA Galaxy to shift Omar Gonzalez from the status of “Designated Player” (DP) to “Core Player,” freeing up a spot for the Galaxy to sign Giovani Dos Santos as a DP, raised eyebrows throughout the soccer world. But it was a progressive step to allowing more competitiveness because the type of player that falls into a “Core Player” slot is often an American that has offers from European clubs and might leave the league without sufficient compensation. This is a worry for teams with good Academy programs and systems.
Below, I’ve rank every US Independent club (MLS Reserve teams are NOT included) based several on metrics on a scale of 1-10. I’ve also split the rankings into three — to give you an idea of where the clubs would rank based on the current metrics.
Note that the intangibles includes national visibility, supporters groups, local market penetration, stadium, and club history.
|1||Sporting Kansas City||9||10||10||10||10||49|
|7||New York City FC||7||8||10||10||8||43|
|11||Real Salt Lake||7||7||9||8||9||40|
|12||San Jose Earthquakes||7||9||7||8||8||39|
|15||New York Red Bulls||8||7||7||7||8||37|
|3||New England Revolution||7||8||6||6||6||33|
|5||Tampa Bay Rowdies||6||6||8||7||6||33|
|10||New York Cosmos||7||8||4||5||8||32|
|13||St. Louis FC||5||6||7||6||7||31|
|3||San Antonio Scorpions||4||6||7||6||7||30|
|4||Fort Lauderdale Strikers||6||9||5||5||4||29|
|5||Harrisburg City Islanders||6||6||7||5||5||29|
|10||Colorado Springs Switchbacks||5||5||5||5||5||25|
|13||Orange County Blues||6||6||3||3||3||21|
Note: Austin Aztex is not ranked due to suspending operations for 2016.
Why Sporting Kansas City?
Sporting Park is the model soccer stadium in this nation, Peter Vermes leads arguably the best technical staff assembled in MLS by somebody other than Bruce Arena, and the club itself is becoming quickly world-renowned. Sporting entities from the Southeastern Conference, Real Madrid and the Washington Redskins have contracted with Sporting KC for consulting services about things as important as fan relations, how to use wifi effectively in stadiums and general marketing. Kansas City over the past few seasons from a technical standpoint is the clearest example of a team having a playing philosophy and principles in any league in the history of American pro soccer. In other words, regardless of market size they are the model pro soccer club in North America.
I am happy to discuss my decisions and views about individual teams in the comments section. Thank you!
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