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News

Mon. 17 February 2020

Technical report on the Major League Soccer

The renewal of the fruitful collaboration with OptaPro has allowed the CIES Football Observatory to innovate by developing its first ever technical report on a non-European competition: the Major League Soccer (MLS) of the United States and Canada. The 52nd Monthly Report compares the style of play of the MLS with that of the five major European leagues.

The style of football played in the MLS differs from that of the big-5 in two principal aspects: the pressing on opponents and the aerial game. The average number of duels per match recorded in the MLS is lower than that observed in each of the five major European leagues. This reflects the lesser pressure applied by players on whoever has possession. Consequently, MLS teams have the opportunity to take more shots.

Partly due to the lesser pressure on the player who has possession, the MLS footballers privilege the passing game on the ground. This is reflected in a much lower number of aerial duels: -14% in comparison to the big-5 and -25% in comparison to the English Premier League. The MLS teams also carry out fewer crosses than clubs in any of the five major European leagues.

While the Major League Soccer has already undergone significant development over the past decade, the enthusiasm for soccer in the United States, with the organisation of the FIFA World Cup in focus, will allow the competition to grow further, both economically and sportingly. MLS teams will thus be able to attract more top talents from abroad.

The challenge will also be to develop better footballers on site and retaining them for longer. While some of them will continue to join the best performing European clubs, the eventual improvement of the training system will strengthen the US national team, with very positive fallout for the MLS development and the popularity of soccer across the nation at large. Go to the Report.