MLS vs USL: The Blogger Angle
The Islanders have done it again! But this time Puerto Rico beat an MLS team in CONCACAF play, once again reigniting a debate which MLS apologists do not want to have.
I have to say I am somewhat offended that many of my colleagues and friends in the soccer blogger community have seemingly chosen to ignore the success of USL sides in CONCACAF competition while continuing to discuss MLS’ failures in a vacuum. Football writers in England and Germany do not ignore their second divisions entirely and do not simply make assumptions about a product’s quality without watching it or trying to understand it. The dismissive of many towards USL this year has been shocking: the assumption during the early rounds of the US Open Cup every year is that USL sides were essentially semi pro teams and that any loss by MLS teams was on them, not due to the quality of play from USL. As one who follows both leagues closely I can tell you while the most individually talented players are in MLS, USL-1 has a quality to it unknown to MLS, something which both Puerto Rico and Montreal demonstrated in their CONCACAF triumphs last year: valuable midfield possession play and strong organization at the back. Yet, USL sides lack the flair and quality in the final third to be as dangerous as MLS sides.
I’d urge my collegues in the soccer blogger community and media to pay more attention to USL-1. Sure the games aren’t played in the sexy venues and you don’t have a commissioner that likes to shoot off his mouth in(over) selling the quality of his league, but the football itself is very revealing. While they are at it, they need to pay more attention to the overall structure of USL, starting with USL-1 but working its way down through USL-2, the PDL (which has sent two players to Everton this summer) and on down thru the Super 20 and Super Y league.
For more of my thoughts on this very subject visit MLS Talk.