MLS ranked 29th most competitive soccer league in the world

Major League Soccer has been working to grow its standing as a top competitive soccer league in the world. Yet, a new study may do damage to that metric.

Twenty-First Group is a sports intelligence agency that works to compare leagues across continents. Think of Five Thirty Eight’s Global Soccer Rankings. Twenty-First Group wanted to analyze the impact Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival would have on Al Nassr and the Saudi Pro League. In doing so, the group’s chief intelligence officer, Omar Chaudhuri, provided something of a reality check to MLS fans.

He ranked the Saudi Pro League on the same level as Major League Soccer when talking to Dan Sheldon of The Athletic.

“The only comparison I can think of is MLS,” Chaudhuri said when comparing looking at the competitiveness and quality of the Saudi Pro League. “We rate the MLS as the 29th-best league in the world, so it is not that low. But, the difference with the MLS is that the quality is much more concentrated.”

Chaudhuri means that MLS is much more competitive. In other words, the worst team in MLS has a better chance against the best team in MLS than the worst team in the Saudi Pro League would have against the best team in the Saudi Pro League.

Domestic players key to MLS being a competitive soccer league

One of the biggest factors in Twenty First Group’s rankings is the role of domestic players. Chaudhuri even added “the quality of your league, fundamentally, is dictated by the quality of your local talent.” Therefore, when looking at the group’s league rankings, incoming world-class talents such as Ronaldo do not do much for a league’s overall ranking.

Call this back to MLS’s somewhat dated tactic of bringing on stars in the later stages of their careers. Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba and Bastian Schweinteiger did not do much to raise the league’s ranking back then, using Chaudhuri’s logic.

They did, however, help grow the game’s fandom. As a result, more young people started playing and following MLS. Then, the Talent pool of American soccer grows, and MLS reaps the rewards. At the beginning of the 2022 season, MLS reported that over 50% of players came from Canada and the United States.

Hopefully, for MLS’s sake, the cycle continues. MLS can profit in terms of its state as a competitive soccer league if the quality of domestic soccer improves.

PHOTO: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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