Hello and welcome to a brand-new series in SmallWorld Soccer, SmallWorld Stats.
Effectively, this is just a series for nerdy and statistical posts. Hopefully, they give good insight on what the soccer situation in America looks like, and what it could/should look like in the future.
Take with these stats what you will; I’m not here to give an opinion on SmallWorld Stats posts. This is all for the community to be able to comment on and voice their thoughts.
With all this being said, let’s proceed into the nerdiness.
Liga FPD is Costa Rica’s top division of soccer. American teams usually come into contact with Liga FPD clubs within the confines of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Traditionally, MLS clubs have gone farther than their Costa Rican counterparts, but Liga FPD clubs have more titles than MLS clubs do as a whole.
Outside of CCL, there are a few measures with which we can rank the two leagues and determine how close they are in quality. But before we do that, there’s evidence to support the fact that it’s a bit shameful to even have to have this discussion in the first place.
According to Transfermarkt, Atlanta United’s roster is worth the most of any MLS club, coming in at a value of 54.18 million USD. That’s more than the entirety of Liga FPD, which comes in at 42.8 million USD.
It’s probably worth pointing out that Atlanta required a second-leg comeback to see off top-four Liga FPD side Herediano in last year’s CCL.
Statista reports that Colorado Rapids are the lowest-valued club in MLS at $190 million. Meanwhile, a general consensus on a soccer forum estimated Liga FPD powerhouse Saprissa’s value at $15 million or so. That was ten years ago, but even if we were to say that value has doubled, Saprissa’s value is 20% of Colorado’s.
Simply put, the top clubs of MLS should not be anywhere in the same realm of Liga FPD in on-field performance, because our financial situation is much stronger.
With all this in mind, let’s see what some club rankings have to say about the difference between Costa Rican and American soccer clubs as far as on-field performance goes, which is the metric that matters.
First, we’ll pay a visit to FiveThirtyEight. Unfortunately, they don’t include Liga FPD clubs in their rankings, but the fact that eight Liga MX clubs rank ahead of MLS’s second-ranked club, Atlanta United, is telling.
LAFC only sits behind one Mexican club, but after them, MLS is severely lacking in this ranking against Mexican clubs. For reference, though, let’s turn to a metric that includes Liga FPD clubs.
FootballDatabase is the source we’re employing this time, and its ranking of North American clubs places Alajuelense, the highest-ranked Costa Rican club, at ninth overall. After, you guessed it, eight Mexican clubs.
So, if we’re doing a one-for-one between the FootballDatabase and the FiveThirtyEight rankings, Costa Rica looks to be pretty evenly ranked against MLS outside of LAFC. However, that might actually be too generous to American clubs.
Remember, FootballDatabase’s ranking includes MLS sides. And the first MLS representative in the ranking is Seattle Sounders, recently crowned MLS Cup champions.
They come in at 18th.
17 other clubs finished ahead of them.
And three of them were Liga FPD clubs.
So, with that being said, it might be worth taking a closer look at Liga FPD in the future for ways we can adopt some of their practices.
If they’re at a similar level to MLS when their budgets are a tenth of MLS clubs, they’re outdoing us. And it won’t help to complain about it. Let’s focus on positive ways to combat the problem.
What are some ways you think MLS could adopt what’s worked in Liga FPD? How can we harness the value our clubs have with better efficiency? Let me know in the comments of this post or on SmallWorld Social.
As always, even if we’ve focused on international soccer this time:
Watch local soccer, unify those around you, and seek out diversity!