What Alexi Said...

Do I really want to do this? Mmmm....maybe...yeah...all right. Let's get it over with.

Any American soccer fan (and probably a fair chunk of the English ones) who does not live inside a cardboard box in the middle of their living room knows by now what Los Angeles Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas said about the English Premier League (EPL) and Major League Soccer's (MLS) quality relative to it (if you don't, here you go). And, yes, Lalas said some silly things as he is wont to do; not surprisingly, Lalas' comments propagated a slew of equally silly comments in response. And, here I am, chucking one more silly comment on this raging bonfire of inanity...(don't blame me; I didn't lower the threshold for publishing into the public sphere - I'm pretty sure that was god - me, I'm just exploiting it):

Who cares what the Brits think about the American game? Seriously. We owe them one, solitary debt when it comes to soccer: the creation of the game. OK, they get bonus points for spreading it (though someone once told me it was the Scots who invented the forward pass...whoops, a Scot is a Brit...moving on....). After that, they're just one other team in the world and we'll find out who is better next time we play them. Maybe someday their clubs will meet ours in a setting that is in some way meaningful, etc. All in all, it's pretty simple: you can tell which league is better by what they do on the field.

Moving on to some of the specifics:

Is the EPL an "inferior product"?: I say yes, though the first question that follows is "inferior to what?" I'll address the competitiveness angle below, but I find the league boring because, not only do the same few teams always win, but there's also very little change in who is meaningfully competitive. And, from an aesthetic point of view, I don't find the sometimes-skilled (depends on the player) hyper-drive spazzing of the EPL all that fun to watch. But that's how I get my kicks. Others like what they like and, eventually, the market - TV, tickets, etc. - will decide which is "better." But in terms of dollar-value across the 20 team EPL, I'd say the collected fans of, oh, 14 EPL teams get the shaft week-in and out due to the competitive imbalance in the EPL. Even the goddamn FA Cup is going stale.

MLS players wouldn't "miss a beat" in the EPL?: Had Alexi not said this, his comments would have been entirely uncontroversial - or, rather, they should have been. For what it's worth, if an all-MLS team containing as many players and available reserves as the EPL average transplanted to England for a season, I think they'd hover right around mid-table. In this little fantasy, we're talking about a team featuring the league's best; I'm guessing an expanded, average-quality MLS team would fight the drop all season. So, in this sense, I think it's fair to admit the EPL isn't inferior...

Anyway, there's some concern the Brits might laugh at us Americans via Alexi. Eh, so what? We dragged them into an endless war...like to see them top that...

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3 comments:

Eric PZ said...

I think the real story here is how much the Brit media take quotes out of context.

laurie said...

"And, from an aesthetic point of view"

My brain read this as, "And, from an anesthetic point of view..." Which, when you're talking about the majority of EPL, is more than accurate.

Although I do really like Arsenal. And Patrice Evra of ManU.

The Manly Ferry said...

Good adjustment, Laurie. The thing is, there are fantastically talented players in the Prem; even down among the bottom-feeders, I've seen players to admire (can't recall his name (probably because I watch so infrequently), but I swear Wigan had this midfielder who was fun as anyone to watch). But the "fantastic talent" floats among the cream primarily; the rest of the league relies on punt 'n' rush, which can be exciting, but it sure it pretty.