Saturday, September 24, 2011

Best League in the World?; UAH Wins at Home, Loses on the Road; UAB Cracks the Top 25

What is the best league in the world?

Lately, there's been a lot of debate in soccer circles as to what is the best league in the world.  No doubt, some of that debate is spurred by statements by the MLS brass that they have shifted thier focus from a survival mode to a quest to become the "best league in the world".  It's an interesting question, but what exactly do we mean when we say "best league in the world"?
 Surely, we can narrow the list of hopefuls down immediately to the European leagues, sometimes called the big four, the English Premier League (EPL), the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A, and the Spanish Premira (La Liga).  Sadly, as much as I believe that Major League Soccer is underrated, the reality is that MLS doesn't yet come close to being included in the conversation.   An argument could possibly be made to include the Mexican and Brazilian top flights, but world wide reach of those leagues aren't anywhere near the top four. 
MLS not in this debate
For me, the best league in the world must have:

  1. Quality teams: From top to bottom the teams must be good and able to make for exciting matches.  In other words, there must be parity, so that a league leader's match against a cellar dweller is not a forgone conclusion.  The EPL certainly has strong teams from 1-12, but there are some stinkers at the bottom.  La Liga sees a major drop off after the top 8.  The Bundesliga has good parity throughout making even the bottom table match-ups exciting.  Serie A has pretty good parity this season.
  2. Fan participation and attendance:  There's no question that games with fans who are into the what's happening on the field dial up the intensity and excitement.  However, a few thousand die-hards just can't make up for tons of empty seats in a stadium.  So, attendance across the league must be good. The Bundesliga surely has the advantage here, as they are the best attended league in the world, and their stadiums rock for each match.  Too many of the EPL, La Liga, and Serie A matches are half empty toward the end of the season. 
  3. Champion diversity:  Perhaps this is just different version of my first point about league parity, but a league with one or two teams who dominate the league is a bummer for everyone.  All the league's have deficiencies in this area. See Madrid and Barcelona, Inter and Milan (maybe not this season), Chelsea and ManU, and Bayern Munich.
From those requirements, my pick for the best league in the world is the Bundesliga.
Although they might not have the best teams in the world (Manchester United and Barcelona lead that debate), the league top to bottom provides the most exciting and entertaining games.  Each Bundesliga game is played at a very high level with exciting, attack-minded tactics in front of loud, boisterous crowds.  Despite Bayern's relative dominance in the competition, there have been 4 different champions in the past 5 seasons that provides a level of parity not seen in the other leagues.

UAH Split Results Against Georgian Opposition

Last Saturday, UAH matched its win total from the previous season with a 5:0 shutout of Georgia Southwestern.  The goals came from five different scorers as Mitch Wilson, Jared Muggleton, Kyle Simmons, Oscar Leon, and Brandon Lemier each notched one.  The performance capped an excellent week from Kyle Simmons who was named GSC Player of the Week.

The Chargers then took to the road for the first time this season at North Georgia State.  A slow start saw UAH down three goals after only 22 minutes.  Despite waking up and attempting to make a game of it with two goals from Ragnar Gunnarsson before the end of the first half, NGSU ended all doubts with three unanswered in the second half to hand UAH a 6:2 loss.

UAH (4-3-0) will try to turn things around when they travel to take on St. Leo on Sunday.

UAB Ranked in National Polls
After starting the season with seven games without a loss, UAB, the only Division I NCAA team in Alabama, have been honored with rankings as high as the 20th position in the various national rankings.  Surely a loss to a tough Portland team will knock UAB down a few notches, but the Blazers expect to continue their early success in the hopes of making an appearance in the NCAA College Cup to be held in Hoover, AL this year.  

1 comment:

  1. well said. That is why I watch the Bundesliga.
    One other rating factor that I would include: the culture of the league.
    There probably is a better word for it but it has to do with pride and self respect. The players, in general, do not want to bring disrespect on themselves, their team, or the game for diving or making the game miserable to watch by being unsporting.