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MLS puts 8th most players in the World Cup; Top 3-5 leagues dominate

May 20, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

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Writing for this space, you hear from a lot of people that want to bash the American game. But a Business Insider report (brought to our attention by the good people at, admittedly) gives the USA backers plenty of ammo.

Around this time last year we told you that Major League Soccer was ranked seventh of the world’s top flights, and the Business Insider report almost buoys those findings by pointing out that the US/Canada shared league ranks 8th on the list of most players on World Cup rosters.

Here’s their chart:

Obviously it’s fairly-slanted to the top three, even six national leagues in the world, but it’s a bit of a shot across the bow of those who claim that Aron Johannsson and Jozy Altidore‘s Eredivisie goal totals should be high-fived more often than Chris Wondolowski (WARNING all Wondo-haters: I’m not necessarily equating them).

It’s also interesting to note that Americans are involved in the totals for seven leagues: England, Germany, France, Mexico, USA/Canada, Turkey and Belgium. From the report:

  1. dohpey28 - May 20, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    I think reasoning that this is a “shot across the bow” is a stretch. MLS has never shown any ability to draw top European talent in their prime to the league. They never will. Enjoy the league for what it is, a secondary league, not top tier. Not what you hope 1 day it might be but never will.

    • tomcatfl - May 21, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      If all he means is that MLS comes in just ahead of Eredivisie, then it’s an interesting point. Definitely a stretch to say that this chart implies that MLS is soon headed into the top tier, I would agree. Decades to go at least, if it ever gets there, but never is a long time.

  2. chadmoon1 - May 20, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    MLS does not need to draw top European talent. It draws the top talent from USA, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and even South America. And it gets those players because the checks clear, which is shady at best in all of those other area leagues.

    Will MLS ever be number 1? No. But can it be in the top 5? Absolutely!

    • dohpey28 - May 20, 2014 at 7:38 PM

      All those top South Americans in MLS are magnificent! Oh wait, they’re all in Europe.

  3. mdac1012 - May 20, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Not to hate on MLS, I am a fan, but out of the 31 players that are going to the WC from MLS, 15 are on the U.S. Team,, naturally, Julio Cesar is on Brazil and Oswaldo Minda of Chivas USA plays for Ecuador. Nobody else really plays for what would be considered a top team. And many probably don’t really consider the U.S. In that category either, despite the PST rankings here.

  4. eric7411 - May 21, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    Another interesting stat: There were only 7 MLS players in the 2010 World Cup (and only 4 for the US.)

    To go from 7 to 31 in four years is pretty impressive. Of course that 31 will drop a little after the final roster cuts, but still…

  5. godsholytrousers - May 21, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    We will climb very quickly ahead of Mexico, Russia, and France.

    • tomcatfl - May 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Mexico – probably soon, unless the Thierry Henrys of the world decide the MLS is just a fad and stop coming. If they do, it will take longer, but it seems like the money will be there to draw better players to MLS than MX.

      Russia – I don’t know enough to comment, other than to say that alot of the big stars that went to Russia to chase big checks seem to keep their stays short. If MLS keeps attracting more stars and can keep them around longer, passing Russia seems possible. If our luck is as bad as Russia’s in keeping them around, then it doesn’t.

      France – it remains to be seen whether PSG’s rise will pull the whole league up or just leave it a one-team league (when it comes to top level). The Old Firm in Scotland looked close to par with England for awhile there, but they fell back down rather than raise the Scottish league up, so it’s not a lock. But even if France stays at the current level, it will take awhile for MLS to catch up, I believe.

      Then again, just because we finished a few WC players ahead of Netherlands, Portugal, and Turkey doesn’t mean that MLS is already better than those leagues as a whole.

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