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Lilshmike
Post #1
Friday November 22, 2019 8:39pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 1,509
There isn't a standard FIFA ranking system to compare leagues across the world with respect to how good they are. The one that is most similar to something like this is the UEFA coefficient, found here:
https://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/uefar...

Considering this, I figured the most reliable source to analyze stats would be from one of the most highly regarded statisticians in the world - Nate Silver. He runs numbers on a bunch of different sports, soccer included, on his website FiveThirtyEight. Although he doesn't analyze leagues by themselves, he runs numbers on over 600 teams around the world to look how well they stack up against one another in a ranking system that takes into account information and stats from a wide array of sources. Below is the link to his global soccer rankings:
https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/global-c...

Here is a link to his outline of how he creates his ranking system, the Soccer Power Index (or SPI):
https://fivethirtyeight.com/methodology/how-o...

Moving forward, considering that there are no "league" rankings, I figured that the best method would be to compare the average and median team strengths from each league represented to provide insight into the "average strength" of a team in each league.

As averages and medians can differ, to simplify, I calculated a final "League SPI" rating that consists of 50% average team SPI and 50% median team SPI. From this final number, the leagues were ranked from highest to lowest.

Lilshmike
Post #2
Friday November 22, 2019 8:41pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 1,509
Below is the list of leagues represented, there are 33 in total. Results are listed as such:

League, Country - League SPI (Avg. SPI, Med. SPI)

League SPI Rankings:
1) Premier League, England - 72.23 (74.26, 70.2)
2) La Liga, Spain - 71.86 (72.76, 70.95)
3) Bundesliga, Germany - 69.87 (70.24, 69.5)
4) Serie A, Italy - 63.9 (65.25, 62.55)
5) Ligue 1, France - 60.87 (61.88, 59.85)
6) Brasileirão, Brazil - 52.08 (52.17, 52)
7) Premier League, Russia - 50.69 (52.18, 49.2)
8) Championship, England - 48.94 (49.19, 48.7)
9) Primeira Liga, Portugal - 46.86 (49.52, 44.2)
10) Liga MX, Mexico - 45.31 (44.63, 46)
11) Eredivisie, Netherlands - 44.28 (45.55, 43)
12) First Division A, Belgium - 44.1 (44.41, 43.8)
13) Superliga, Argentina - 42.83 (43.66, 42)
14) Super League, Switzerland - 42.67 (45.29, 40.05)
15) Bundesliga, Austria - 42.44 (44.68, 40.2)
16) Süper Lig, Turkey - 42.03 (44.01, 40.05)
17) Superliga, Denmark - 41.25 (40.35, 42.15)
18) Super League, China - 40.31 (41.98, 38.65)
19) Major League Soccer, USA - 39.31 (39.33, 39.3)
20) Super League, Greece - 38.84 (40.57, 37.1)
21) 2. Bundesliga, Germany - 33.92 (34.58, 33.25)
22) La Liga 2, Spain - 33.35 (33.85, 32.85)
23) J1 League, Japan - 32.84 (33.84, 31.85)
24) Premiership, Scotland - 31.08 (32.96, 29.2)
25) Allsvenskan, Sweden - 30.23 (33.17, 27.3)
26) Eliteserien, Norway - 29.99 (29.74, 30.25)
27) Ligue 2, France - 29.72 (30.33, 29.1)
28) A-League, Australia - 29.17 (29.05, 29.3)
29) Serie B, Italy - 23.78 (24.91, 22.65)
30) League One, England - 21.7 (21.8, 21.6)
31) Premier Division, South Africa - 21.68 (22.5, 20.85)
32) USL Championship, USA - 18.06 (18.76, 17.35)
33) League Two, England - 11.52 (11.45, 11.6)

Lilshmike
Post #3
Friday November 22, 2019 8:46pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 1,509
Some results are surprising. For instance, this says that China is the same strength as MLS. I would disagree there.

It also indicates that the Championship is of the same strength as Portugal. As interesting as that is, I don't think that is too far away. The bottom half of the Portuguese league is pretty poor, although the top few teams are definitely very strong. On average, it may actually compare.

Any teams with about a +/- 5 point gap really could be considered about the same level. I say this when looking at the Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga. I think its clear to say that they are all pretty similar, slightly above Italy, and notable above France (a 10 point gap).

Lilshmike
Post #4
Friday November 22, 2019 8:52pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 1,509
As much talk as there has been of "wheres the evidence" this is as close as we can realistically get. Regardless, its interesting to see the results.

Teams comparable to MLS (about +/- 5 points):
10) Liga MX, Mexico - 45.31 (44.63, 46)
11) Eredivisie, Netherlands - 44.28 (45.55, 43)
12) First Division A, Belgium - 44.1 (44.41, 43.8)
13) Superliga, Argentina - 42.83 (43.66, 42)
14) Super League, Switzerland - 42.67 (45.29, 40.05)
15) Bundesliga, Austria - 42.44 (44.68, 40.2)
16) Süper Lig, Turkey - 42.03 (44.01, 40.05)
17) Superliga, Denmark - 41.25 (40.35, 42.15)
18) Super League, China - 40.31 (41.98, 38.65)
19) Major League Soccer, USA - 39.31 (39.33, 39.3)
20) Super League, Greece - 38.84 (40.57, 37.1)
21) 2. Bundesliga, Germany - 33.92 (34.58, 33.25)
22) La Liga 2, Spain - 33.35 (33.85, 32.85)

Know Nothing
Post #5
Friday November 22, 2019 9:07pm

Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts: 1,828
Original post from Lilshmike

Some results are surprising. For instance, this says that China is the same strength as MLS. I would disagree there.

It also indicates that the Championship is of the same strength as Portugal. As interesting as that is, I don't think that is too far away. The bottom half of the Portuguese league is pretty poor, although the top few teams are definitely very strong. On average, it may actually compare.

Any teams with about a +/- 5 point gap really could be considered about the same level. I say this when looking at the Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga. I think its clear to say that they are all pretty similar, slightly above Italy, and notable above France (a 10 point gap).


No, not really surprising. While the median MLS player is probably better than the median Chinese league player, the Chinese league has more elite upper echelon players than MLS, which brings the average up.

Know Nothing
Post #6
Friday November 22, 2019 9:13pm

Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts: 1,828
..and thanks for doing this

Lilshmike
Post #7
Friday November 22, 2019 9:45pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 1,509
Original post from Know Nothing

..and thanks for doing this
No problem. I enjoy the debate.

I do this stuff for fun. I used to have a list of almost every player in the pool, over 100 of them, and kept and compared stats on them - their clubs, ages, positions, etc. Used that to build a "tiered" system of where players realistically stood in relation to other guys in the pool and built out a USMNT depth chart of sorts. I stopped really consistently updating it though a couple years back though when we started sucking.

Lilshmike
Post #8
Friday November 22, 2019 9:45pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 1,509
@cudevil
@bjelks

Where y'all at?

db707
Post #9
Friday November 22, 2019 9:49pm

Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts: 1,083
Interesting analysis. It made me think of a couple of other cases where we have guys in leagues clearly above MLS in the rankings, who are playing, but their teams are terrible and they are not producing results. Haji Wright's the perfect example, an Eredivisie player, starting regularly, but he hasn't scored in the league and Venlo is awful. Is that entirely his fault, of course not, but it makes it hard to make a case to call him up when those are the facts of his case. Brendan Hines-Ike in Belgium with Kortrijk is a similar deal, starting, in a league better than MLS, but for a relegation fodder club. On the other end, Ventura Alvarado is captain for the second place team in Mexico, his league and his individual case are stronger.

bjelks
Post #10
Saturday November 23, 2019 3:33am

Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts: 1,758
Thanks for sharing. I know we argue a lot about leagues so this is helpful for at least a baseline for future convos.
goalsense
Dave
Post #11
Saturday November 23, 2019 4:54am

Joined Jul 2014
Total Posts: 1,111
Based on the league rankings provided by Lishmike, the following 27 players are playing consistently for their clubs are theoretically playing at a higher level than the MLS Players that Berhaulter has been relying on.
I get passing over players who've been out injured, or in situations where a player is fighting through a slump....but we shouldn't be seeing rosters where the MLS Contingent is larger than the European contingent.
I've intentionally left off some of the European youth prospects who've yet to feature for their clubs 1st team.

League, Country - League SPI (Avg. SPI, Med. SPI)

League SPI Rankings:
1) Premier League, England - 72.23 (74.26, 70.2)
Pulisic (Att), Yedlin (Def)
3) Bundesliga, Germany - 69.87 (70.24, 69.5)
Steffens (GK), Brooks (Def), Adams (Mid), McKennie (Mid), Morales (Mid),
Sargent (Att), Chandler (Def), Fabian (Def/Mid)
5) Ligue 1, France - 60.87 (61.88, 59.85)
Weah (Att), Siebatcheu (Att)
8) Championship, England - 48.94 (49.19, 48.7)
Ream (Def), CCV (Def), A. Robinson (Def), Cameron (Def), Miazga (Def), Holmes (Mid)
9) Primeira Liga, Portugal - 46.86 (49.52, 44.2)
Parks (Mid)
10) Liga MX, Mexico - 45.31 (44.63, 46)
Alvarado (Def)
11) Eredivisie, Netherlands - 44.28 (45.55, 43)
Dest (Def), Wright (Att)
12) First Division A, Belgium - 44.1 (44.41, 43.8)
Horvath (GK)
15) Bundesliga, Austria - 42.44 (44.68, 40.2)
EPB (Def)
16) Süper Lig, Turkey - 42.03 (44.01, 40.05)
Boyd (Att)
17) Superliga, Denmark - 41.25 (40.35, 42.15)
Sabbi (Att), Cappis (Mid)

19) Major League Soccer, USA - 39.31 (39.33, 39.3)
Guzan (GK), Johnson (GK), Gonzalez (GK), Lovitz (Def), M. Robinson (Def), Zimmerman (Def), Cannon (Def), Lima (Def), Bradley (Mid), Trapp (Mid), Yueill (Mid), Roldan (Mid), Jozy (Att), Arriola (Att).Baird (Att)
21) 2. Bundesliga, Germany - 33.92 (34.58, 33.25)
Green (Mid/Att)

Considering that 2 Bundesliga is directly behind MLS in the rankings I don't think people are all that off listing Green for consideration considering the poor performances of many of the MLS players.

skangles
DC
Post #12
Saturday November 23, 2019 5:14am

Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts: 5,448
This is terrific Lilshmike!

Know Nothing
Post #13
Saturday November 23, 2019 6:10am

Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts: 1,828
@Dave...we could also list 4) Serie A Jeremy Toljan (Sass). He could file a one time switch, though he could do the same with Croatia.

blaise213
Post #14
Saturday November 23, 2019 10:25am

Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts: 3,182
MLS defense is atrocious

db707
Post #15
Saturday November 23, 2019 10:27am

Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts: 1,083
I forgot about Siebatcheu, he's never declared for us, but that's another case where the guy is in a better (top 5) league, for a mid-table club, but has only started 2 of their 13 games and has 1 assist, he's mostly a late game sub. So the player is at a higher level than MLS, but there's not much that he's actually doing on the field to support the case for a call-up. The question becomes at what point do you say the club the player is at is big enough that a lack of playing time/production isn't a big deal. For me Stade Rennais isn't big enough of a club, Siebatcheu should be playing and producing more. Dave, good list, Hines-Ike as I noted is also in Belgium and should be on the radar, Amon's in Denmark, there are a few names that would need to be added.

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