It’s the question that follows just about everyone qualified to have an opinion in Major League Soccer: “What do you think about pro/rel?” The promotion/relegation debate is heated, with proponents and detractors armed with valid points on both sides of the fence.
That debate won’t be settled today — or in the foreseeable future — but reigning MLS MVP David Villa offered his opinion on the matter Tuesday. In his view, pro/rel isn’t needed in MLS. The NYCFC striker relayed as much to Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy.
Villa, who spend his entire career playing Spain before joining NYCFC in 2014, compared MLS’ need for pro/rel with La Liga’s. To him, MLS doesn’t need the system because there’s enough parity in the league as it is. All 22 teams have a shot to win MLS Cup year to year. Contrast that with La Liga, where he sees only five teams as capable of winning the league. Thus, a pro/rel format adds additional intrigue.
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'The Rec League' with Rachel Bonnetta and Stuart Holden was LIVE with Major League Soccer MVP David Villa.
“Pro/rel is their league,” Villa told Kennedy. The differences between La Liga and MLS run far deeper than just pro/rel, naturally. The American league’s salary cap is a huge factor in the talent equity among teams, for example. The Spanish soccer system also has clearly defined tiers beyond their top flight, at least in the upper few divisions. The U.S. Soccer Federation, meanwhile, is having trouble defining and sanctioning their second division.
As mentioned, the pro/rel debate is sure to rage on as it has for years now. But at least we know where the 35-year-old Villa’s allegiances lie.