- 03/13/2012, 01:02AM ET
UB bulls said 03/13, 01:02 AM
I'm going to assume that there are no roster upgrades for the MLS team. That is, I assume there are no changes to the existing MLS foreign player and designated player limits.
MLS is Major League Soccer, the US pro league.
English soccer is a hierarchy of leagues. At the top is the Premier League (EPL), where well-known clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal compete. There are 20 teams in the league.
The next league below that is the Championship League, with 24 teams. Below that is League One, with 24 more teams, then League Two with 24 teams. So 92 teams top to bottom.
At the end of each season, the bottom three teams in each league are demoted to the next lower league, and the top three teams are promoted into the higher league. So each league is a meritocracy; if you don't win consistently, you get demoted.
So where in the hierarchy of leagues would the top MLS team fit in? I believe they would find themselves in the top of the Championship League, or about 20th to 25th overall. In a good year, they might get promoted to the EPL, but would likely find themselves demoted the next season.
Good luck WWJ
williewilliejuan said 03/13, 09:55 PM
Your argument basically says that the top MLS team is on the cusp of being in the Premiership, and in good years could get promoted to play there. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support that. Even the top MLS team would get outclassed in the Premiership for two inter-related reasons: Money and Depth.
MLS employs a very rigid and onerous salary cap and has no free agency. Teams can only have a maximum of 3 (designated) players who earn more than $335K. Even with the designated players bringing up the average, the average MLS salary is approximately $154K per year. There are only 11 players in MLS who earn more than $1M per year. By way of contrast, the average EPL player earns the equivalent of $1.8M per year.
For the most part, the best players go where the competition and the money is best. The result of this is there is a much wider disparity of talent from top to bottom in MLS than there is in EPL. While players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry could absolutely compete in EPL, most other players in MLS could not.
The talent level of top MLS teams is more akin to a lower-level Championship team, somewhere between 36th and 40th overall.
UB bulls said 03/14, 02:00 AM
Comparing MSL payrolls to EPL payrolls is not germane here. We both agree that the top MSL team belongs in the Championship League, not the EPL.
We do disagree on where in the Championship League the top MSL team would rank. I say top 5, you say 16th to 20th.
Average payrolls in the Championship League are fraction of the EPL payrolls you mention, and much more in line with top MSL teams. MSL teams can afford to be competitive in the Championship League.
Various rankings of football clubs bear that out: top MLS teams are competitive with top Championship League clubs.
For example, the IFFHS (www.iffhs.de) has Seattle and the LA Galaxy ranked above Birmingham, which is currently 8th in the Championship League standings.
www.footballdatabase.com has the Galaxy ranked above Birmingham, Queenspark and West Ham United--all teams that are either at the bottom of the EPL or atop the Championship League.
We also have results from a few recent friendlies. The NY Red Bulls won the 2011 Emirates Cup, tying Arsenal in one match and beating Paris St. Germain from Ligue 1 in another. Sure it was just a friendly, but still a win that any Championship League side would envy.
williewilliejuan said 03/14, 10:52 PM
Any time someone throws out rankings of teams that play in different leagues, against different competition and under different circumstances, I'm always more than a little skeptical. How were these rankings derived? How were they vetted?
So, I looked up the methodology of the rankings you mentioned - there's a lot of math involved. Here's one of the formulae:
R_n = R_o + K*G (W - W_e)
I don't know what the hell that means, but I'll tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that team A could or should beat team B if they met in a match. It doesn't mean that Team A is better than Team B, and as such, they are totally irrelevant to this discussion.
What isn't irrelevant is the opinion of football experts. Most experts agree that top MLS teams would struggle in the Championship for two main reasons, one of which we already discussed. The first reason is the different style of play in the Championship. The play is much more physical, which makes the season extremely grueling.
That places a great deal of importance on depth, which as we discussed MLS teams lack due to the salary cap in place. MLS teams don't have the ability to overcome injuries to its key players.
UB bulls said 03/15, 03:09 AM
The equation is the Elo ranking equation. It's used to rank international chess Grand Masters, and by Sagarin in his BCS rankings. It's not a fool proof predictor, but it's certainly relevant to this topic.
International Friendly results, 2009-10
Galaxy 2-2 AC Milan
Galaxy 1-0 Puntarenas FC (Mexico)
Galaxy 1-0 Boca Juniors (Argentina)
MLS Wins/draws Vs Premier League 2010-11
NY Red Bulls 2-1 Manchester City
Kansas City 2-1 Manchester United
LA Galaxy 1-1 Manchester City
Vancouver 1-1 Manchester City
San Jose 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Yes, I cherry-picked the matches, but then again Manchester City and Man U went a combined 57-3-5 against the bottom half of the EPL over 2010-11. Put another way, top MLS teams are having similar success against the EPL leaders as teams like Birmingham, Blackpool and West Ham United.
Now, I'm not trying to claim that MLS teams are consistently competitive with elite leagues like the EPL.
I am saying what the rankings show: since MLS teams are beyond the 'random upset' of elite European teams, they have shown they can compete for the title in England's second division, the Championship League.
williewilliejuan said 03/15, 08:36 PM
Would you like a basket for those cherries you just picked? A few handpicked exhibition games are a far cry from playing an entire season against tougher competition.
I'm glad you pointed out that the ratings you cite are related to the BCS, because they suffer from the same weaknesses. They can't adequately compensate for strength of schedule or style of play. The teams are ranked based on the games they played and the competition they faced. The final BCS rankings placed Kansas State above Auburn, S. Carolina and GA, but few college football fans would argue that K State would compete successfully in the SEC.
The reason why MLS teams would struggle in the Championship is the same reason why K State would struggle in the SEC. The teams they'll face are more talented from top to bottom and the style of play is much more difficult. The top MLS teams have a few players who could compete in any league, but the talent drops off precipitously after that. The style of play in the Championship is much more physical, which places a premium on depth - depth MLS teams lack.
Unless MLS changes its rules to permit more depth, even top MLS teams would struggle in the Championship.
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