Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is MLS the Best League in the Americas?

MLS is off to a huge start in CONCACAF Champions League, looking dominant in the process.  Mexico may have won the Gold Cup this year, but for the first time in a long time, the U.S. First Division may be a stronger league than Mexico's.  This is a big turning point for MLS.

With 5 teams playing well in CCL, more than likely, an MLS club will participate in FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in 2012.  At this 8-team tournament, there will be a chance to compete against the championship clubs from all different parts of the world, including South America.

Regardless of whether future accomplishments in FIFA CWC happen soon or not, goals are being made with 'major' strides this year.  There has been a noticeable difference this year of skilled play in MLS, including fantastic set plays and exciting goals.

Possibly, other leagues among CONCACAF are having down years, so MLS looks outstanding in comparison.  Or maybe the media has too often in the past, highlighted the strengths of foreign leagues to the detriment of MLS.

American media and foreign press have pressured MLS to produce higher quality play with each passing year.  There's nothing wrong with the principles of trying to make a better league and some of the recent accomplishments can be attributed to this constructive criticism.

But, the media can go so far out of their way to try and make a point, that they lose objectivity.  The opinions they put forth can skew towards a bias without solid proof.  The criticism can become unwarranted.

It has been a combination of both, some justified criticism and some unmitigated bias.  Unquestionably, MLS has improved its overall play in recent years and has gained a higher stature among world's Soccer leagues.  But, how much better were all these other leagues in Europe, Asia and the Americas in the first place?

It always seems like just a few teams in each league play lights out, then these leagues' greatness become embellished and exaggerated.  Is there or was there enough proof, to legitimately say from top to bottom, these leagues are better than MLS?

Generally speaking, Mexico has had solid teams from top to bottom for many years, but if MLS teams continue to beat Mexican teams in CCL play, than it is logical to state that MLS is the best Soccer league of North and Central America.  Mexico is the only real threat to this throne.

In South America, there are solid leagues in several countries, but an argument could be made that MLS is ahead of all of them by a decent margin with the exception of Argentina and Brazil.  Leagues in Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay and Paraguay tend to have just 1 or 2 really good teams per league, if that many.  Their country's best players tend to play in leagues of other countries.

Only Brazil and Argentina can boast of having more than a couple good to great teams each year, like a Santos or Corinthians from Brazil or a Boca from Argentina.  Most of their greatest players also leave to play for leagues of other countries. 

It's a debate which can't have an indisputable answer and it's only recently that MLS enters seriously into the discussion.  But, it appears MLS may be considered best league in the Americas for many years to come. 

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