Alexi Lalas: MLS is the most competitive league in the world

Alexi Lalas discusses the difference between Major League Soccer and other leagues around the world in his State of the Union Podcast

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- Major League Soccer is built on manufactured parity. Now, that is parity with a T, not a D. MLS's structure, with the salary cap, the roster restrictions, draft orders, allocation money, et cetera, is designed to guard against too much competitive advantage and create relative equality between teams. Now, this produces a league where anyone can win. The haves versus the have-nots, or the two, three, four-horse race scenario that's a hallmark of most of the big leagues around the world, is not only undesired in MLS, it's actively combatted against.

Now, there has been some separation in MLS, largely fueled by spending disparity. But it's still a league of incredible parity relative to the rest of the world. In MLS's 22 seasons, 15 different teams have been to MLS Cup, and 12 different teams have won Supporters' Shield. The reason why Leicester winning the EPL title a few years ago was such a big story was precisely because it was such an anomaly for the EPL.

When teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Juventus, or Man City walk onto the field, they know, and everybody else knows, that they have a much better chance of winning because they've hedged their bets by spending more on better talent. And expectations from fans are adjusted accordingly.

When was the last time you heard an MLS coach or a fan differentiate between games they're expected to win and games they're not? It doesn't happen. I like that in MLS, everyone has a chance to win. In one season, you can go from worst to first. In a sense, it's a pure form of competition because it's a more even playing field. MLS fans start each season with a genuine belief, rooted in history, that their team has a chance to win it all.

For me, that's what makes MLS fun. It's what makes MLS unique. And it's what makes MLS, from top to bottom, truly the most competitive league in the world.


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