I have a few regrets about the way that I conducted that study (read it for my methodology). First was that I counted matches decided on penalties as wins or losses, rather than as draws, which is how they should be counted. Second, that comparison spanned too great a period, during which time the strength of the A-League/USL-1 has fluctuated dramatically.
From a Canadian perspective, a convenient point to begin analyzing the data is the beginning of the Toronto FC era, namely 2007. The data over that period represents a fairly small sample size, but large enough, I think to begin to draw some conclusions. Here it is:
|MLS results vs USL-1 sides|
|US Open Cup|
|Nutrilite Canadian Championship|
That 7 of the total 25 matches over this period involve Canadian USL-1 sides, perenially among the league's strongest, might seem to skew the results a little. On the other hand, only the top 8 teams in MLS qualify for the US Open Cup, meaning the MLS minnows, if there are such, don't have a chance to get exposed by stronger USL-1 teams.
The record of 12-5-8, in a league table, would be worth 41 points from 25 games, or 1.64 points per game (PPG). In the EPL this season the team that most closely approximated this PPG performance is 6th-placed Aston Villa (17-10-11 for 62 points from 38 games, or 1.63 PPG). Similar comparisons from other leagues yield:
- Bundesliga: TSG Hoffenheim (1.62 PPG, 7th)
- La Liga: Valencia (1.63 PPG, 6th)
- Serie A: AS Roma (1.66 PPG, 6th)
- Eredivisie: Groningen (1.65 PPG, 6th)
Does this mean that the gap between an average MLS team and an average USL-1 side is less than the gap between the top team and bottom team in any Euro league? Yes, and I think we knew that all along!
Presumably I will stop caring about this once Montreal and Vancouver are in MLS. Unless Winnipeg has a USL-1 team by that point (I can dream, can't I?) in which case I will be shouting the praises of the Little League that Sometimes Can from the rooftops.