Five reasons why MLS is not one of the most competitive leagues in the world


19th, June 2007


lalas_portrait.jpgAlexei Lalas, general manager of LA Galaxy, has said that MLS is one of the most competitive leagues in the world: ‘It’s insulting to us and to our sport to say [David] Beckham is on his way to Hollywood when he is coming to play in one of the most competitive leagues in the world,’ the deluded ginger said recently. ‘There are a lot of stars in European football who would struggle over here.’
Hmm, we beg to differ. Here are five reasons why MLS is not one of the most competitive leagues in the world:
1 MLS makes Juan Pablo Angel look like the deadliest striker in the world. We know from his time at Villa that this is blatantly not true.

2 They take free-kicks like this.
3 Danny Dichio gets a game. Not only that, he’s scored four goals in six starts for Toronto. Prior to that he scored five goals in 63 appearances for Preston North End. Dichio would NOT get a start in any top-flight team in England, Italy or Spain.
4 The standard of defending is truly dreadful. I’d put it on a par with Conference football in England. Witness some of the defending in this selection of MLS goals.
5 Oh, it’s just not is it. Come on Alexei, you’re having a laugh. If the best team in MLS were to play in the Premiership they’d be relegated, without a doubt.

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  1. Hroosky says:

    point 1: eh, Diego Forlan?? Premiership – muck, La Liga – leathal. Is the Premiership really that much stronger than La Liga?

  2. aja says:

    seriously, why the hate? obviously mls has its issues, but i wonder if the folks who criticize have ever seen any mls play on something other than youtube.

  3. jamesey says:

    Alexi Lalas used to be cool. When he was a player, he would speak his mind, and make sense. Ever since he became a general manager, he says the stupidest shit and talks out of both sides of his mouth. As a Galaxy season ticket holder for the last 5 years, I wish someone else would get his job. Alexi only got the job because the previous GM died.

  4. Jorge says:

    I have lived in the US since 1991 and saw the development of the MLS.
    It is much better now than it was in its early years but it is not a very good league.
    I can stand watching some games but although technically the players are on average much better than they were before, tactically there is a lot to be done.
    The problem comes from the youth leagues and is carried to the professional leagues. There are very few good coaches in the US.
    In the youth leagues there are still a lot of coaches that have never played the game, and a lot of those who have, have played it during the dump and chase years and have not kept up with the “new” developments.
    Moreover, there is not a soccer/football culture, kids do not watch games from the top leagues and spend all their waking moments talking about it.
    It is getting better, much better, but it is still not competitive when compared to the top leagues in the world.

  5. Kyle says:

    JPA was always good…he was just inconsistent in the EPL (16 goals in 03-04). Not to mention NY was scoring tons of goals before he got there, so when he got there all he really had to do is cherry pick. As for what Lalas said, it was a little over the top, but it made news and that is all the MLS is looking for. The more publicity, the more money they can get, and the more money they can use to purchase better players. I do think the MLS is better than alot of people believe. The best team in the MLS would not be one of the top teams in the EPL, but they could escape relegation.

  6. Joe says:

    While I am no fan of Lalas, I think some of what he said is being misconstrued. By “ONE OF THE MOST COMPETITIVE LEAGUES” he means from top to bottom of the table, all the teams can compete with each other for the title, because there is so much parity. I believe 7 of 13 teams have won the title, and something like 9 or 10 of the 13 have been in the final. As opposed to many major leagues where you have 2, 3 or 4 teams win every time and all the other teams fight for UEFA or Intertoto spots, or try not to be relegated. Your five reasons above address “why MLS is not the BEST league in the world”, or “why MLS is not as good the EPL”, but that does not mean it is not “competitive” within the league. You’d be hard pressed to find a league more ‘competitive’ as far as parity.
    MLS is no EPL, thats a given, the joke is old. No need for unecessary hate. As a soccer/football fan, I am passionate about my local MLS side, as I am about watching the EPL or any other league on tv. I love the game, period.

  7. StuMo says:

    “Competitive” doesn’t necessarily mean “good” – it just means that it’s closely fought. An un-competitive league would be one with a few outstanding teams who always win (e.g. Premiership, SPL).
    So perhaps Alexei was just saying all the MLS teams are as rubbish as each other…

  8. daryl says:

    you have foot in mouth diease, the best MLS team did play the best EPL team and won, ever see the MLS all stars vs Chealsea? and dont tell me it was all reserves because there were a good amount of first starters that played that game, dwayne d. romped one in the back of the net and it was all skill. EPL has tight defense because everyone is so scared to lose they’ll stick to a draw, please, name one good attacking premier league team, ManYoo maybe but for the money that MLS strikers are getting paid I tend to see way more goals compared to some flopping stars I.E. Andrei Sheva

  9. Ric says:

    Not sure why you guys take Lalas so seriously. He has little real power in the Galaxy (AEG team). Apparently his job is to annoy you.
    Most MLS teams operate on a 1 million pound per year payroll. Of course they can’t and shouldn’t be able to rival a Premiership squad.
    Most MLS teams pay their reserves rubbish, so when depleted you may have conference level players on the field. But when at full strength, the majority of the players are Championship quality. MLS has produced defenders such as Carlos Bocanegra and Ryan Nelsen. It’s the reserve attacking players that are dreadful.

  10. Red says:

    Two points: Alexi is a marketer now. His comments are now all over the internet. Success.
    Second, all of us who are long-term MLS fans are pretty fed up with being told anything about our league by people who are not long-term fans. Perhaps Alexi should have been ironic: “We humble Yanks realize that only the Brits know anything about football and that we can only aspire to the British standard of greatness. Now go back to England and leave us alone. All we did was take that has-been guy off your hands.”

  11. Dan Clough says:

    You’ve touched a nerve here! Everyone knows the standard of football in America is, to be frank, toss! The only reason Beckham’s going over there, as with all the stars of the past who have played in the US, is money!

  12. dom says:

    That comment by Joe is the most sensible thing here. Fact is a league that’s a 100 years younger than ours in England won’t compete in terms of the standard of football/history etc. But it’s competitive enough & interesting enough for people to be passionate about which is the most important thing.

  13. Matthew Burke says:

    Lalas should have precised “one of the 100 most competitive leagues in the world” and it would have been OK
    but he is a true yank, that’s why he will always want to fart over his arse

  14. Murfmensch says:

    One should look at this dollar for dollar. The market value of every MLS team is less than that of the Tottenham Hotspur.
    That said, there is nothing wrong with following the MLS. It can be exciting stuff. Fans of Accrington Stanley must know that their team could not defeat, say, Middlesborough. But that’s not the point.
    The EPL and Championship are silly not to buy more of these MLS players. Fulham may have dodged relegation with their purchase of Clint Dempsey.
    Beckham will develop the sport because he is good by virtue of other things besides scoring goals on the run. He will be a star tutor. The league will not destroy him for England. An EPL elbow or tackle might.

  15. Bubba says:

    1. For a 13 year old league, the MLS has done quite well in terms of creating quality out of nothing. The majority of MLS teams would be competitive Championship sides (except they lack the squad depth). That is an accomplishment, particularly considering that the concept of transfers does not exist in MLS and teams could never afford to buy players contracts anyways.
    2. MLS has a lot of players with good technical ability, it’s the tactics, coaching and training that are dreadful. Additionally, there is not enough pressure on players to win. Donadoni said he enjoyed his time in the MLS for the very reason that it was so relaxing and the pressure to win was extremely low compared to Italy, where each loss creates a week long media frenzy.
    3. Despite 100 years+ of footballing history in England, there is still a lot of shite out there being played week in and week out in the bottom half of the Championship and below. Even in the dregs of the Premiership.
    4. Lallas is an idiot. We have known about that here in the States for a long time.
    5. It is amazing how Beckham was for so long the center of ire of the English press and fans. Blamed for so much. But now that he is leaving for the States he has become the ‘beloved David”, who is too good for MLS. There weren’t too many singing his good graces after the last two World Cups and begging to have him dropped from the England team. You cannot have it both ways.
    6. The MLS is doing quite well when you consider that it has to compete in the most over saturated sports marketing environment in the world. MLS has to compete against professional and university level American Gridiron Football (which combined probably generate more revenue than professional football across the globe), they also have to compete against baseball and the NBA. And of course there is college basketball and hockey. Football in England really only competes against rugby and cricket and that is not real competition.

  16. Kaya says:

    Some pretty good comments here. I was wondering how long it would take Pies to pick this one up… Frankly, I’m surprised to see such serious coverage. I figured your take would be more like “that crazy Alexei” and referring the reader to your horror hair section.
    I never went to an MLS game when the Dynamos used to be the San Jose Quakes (it’s a 50 min drive), but now I regret it: the league is pretty darn good for its age and (with the exception of Beckham) its payrolls.
    Besides the top 4 teams, the EPL doesn’t really amaze me. Of course, this is a problem in all the top european leagues, but it’s true that Lalas does have a point there ;)

  17. joe says:

    In fairness to the MLS it has come along incredibly well since its formation. The US can thank the MLS to a large extent for their excellent 2002 WC showing where they should have beaten Germany but for a handball decisively missed by the referee. However, it is still not on a par with any of the top European leagues or those from Brazil or Argintina. Given time it will attract younger and younger European stars and gain ground. Lalas is a jackass, always has been always will be.

  18. Joe says:

    Matthew Burke, you are a retard.

  19. Damn Yank says:

    You muppet. Competitive in that all clubs stand the chance of winning unlike the EPL where only 4 or 5 clubs have any hope of winning the title. Learn English.

  20. Ollie, Pies Ed. says:

    There seems to be two different interpretations of competitive here:
    a) MLS is competitive in itself, ie. any club can beat any club on any given day (which I agree with).
    b) MLS is competitive when compared with other major leagues around the world. If Lalas is saying that, then he’s wrong.
    Daryl, I don’t think you can take a one-off friendly as proof that MLS teams could compete throughout a season against Prem teams. I don’t buy that. MLS as a destination is still for homegrown US talent and European/South American players who’s best years are behind them. Beckham has gone two seasons too early and he knows it.

  21. American Misfit says:

    I am the biggest fan of Alexei Lalas, and I am devastated by all these nasty comments
    as usual, he is deeply misunderstood
    but hopelly he will keep on trying to educate the bunch of drunken british hooligans you are
    (i bet you’ve got something to do with the guys who poured some beer on the head of that CNN reporter during 2007 FA Cup Final)

  22. Anonymous says:

    I was the one that poured some beer on the head of that CNN reporter during 2007 FA Cup Final and I loved it.

  23. Ollie, Pies Ed. says:

    I was that cnn reporter

  24. gonzilla says:

    if the prem was inferior, why did he sign a druggie defender who couldn’t cut it for a mid-table epl club?