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Major League Soccer v Premier League – Outlook on Major Similarities & Notable Differences

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By Jonathan Lewis | 18th May 2022

What are the differences and similarities between English Premier League and Major League Soccer? Read this article to discover.

One of the popular debates among football lovers is which league is the best in the world. While the English Premier League (EPL), the Spanish La Liga, and the Italian Serie A could make credible shouts at being the best soccer league in the world, the same cannot be said of the Major League Soccer (MLS), the top soccer league in America.

This is not to say the MLS is not a good league, but it’s still many years behind the top soccer leagues in the world. Still, there are many reasons to be hopeful. The league’s growth has been massive in the past three years.

With administrators building a system similar to the hugely successful English Premier League, the expectations are that the MLS will be able to compete favorably with the world’s top leagues in the foreseeable future.

Today, there are many bases for comparison between the EPL and the MLS, and this article will explore them. Before looking into the comparisons, one area that will always be the same between both leagues is how to bet on soccer odds. Regardless of the league, betting on soccer is the same. You only need to understand the basics and strategies of soccer betting, and you can excel betting on any league for that matter.

A Brief History of the English Premier League

The English Premier League, legally known as the Football Association Premier League Limited, is the top division of the English football league.

The league has 20 teams and operates with promotion from the English Football League Championship and relegation to the same championship league.

The EPL was founded on February 20, 1992 after a decision by the first division of the Football League to leave. Since then, the EPL has developed and has become the most-watched sports league globally.

A Brief History of the Major League Soccer

The United States Soccer Federation created Major League Soccer following their promise to FIFA after the United States was awarded the 1994 FIFA World Cup hosting rights.

Major League Soccer was founded in 1995 and kicked off the following year with ten teams. Two years later, two teams joined. Although there were some financial difficulties in the league at the beginning, it has risen to become one of the biggest sports leagues in the United States. Today, the MLS has 28 teams and is currently planning to expand to 30.

The Similarities Between the MLS and the EPL

Here are noticeable similarities between the two leagues:

  1. Both Follow the IFAB Rules

 The International Football Association Board rules, also known as the “Laws of the Game,” are adopted by both MLS and the EPL. The laws include the rules of offside, free kicks, throw-in, match duration, penalty kicks, etc. Since both leagues follow the IFAB rules, their playing mode is the same.

  1. Continental Cup Qualification

 In the English Premier League, teams that finish in the top seven on the table qualify to play in the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and the Europa Conference League. Also, teams that win some of the domestic cups automatically qualify for the Europa League.

This is the same for Major League Soccer. Teams that win the league qualify for North America’s Continental Competition and the CONCACAF Champions League. Like the Premier League, the winners of some domestic cups also qualify for the continental cups.

  1. Match and Season Awards

 Both MLS and the EPL give out awards to outstanding players at the end of a campaign. Some of the awards are Starting XI of the Season, Golden Boot, Goal of the Season, Young Player of the Year, and the Landon Donovan MVP Award exclusively for the MLS for the most outstanding player in the league.

The Differences Between the MLS and the EPL

These are some of the differences between the leagues:

  • Promotion and Relegation of Teams

 In the English Football League, teams can be promoted and relegated. The top seventeen teams in the Premier League remain, while the bottom three get relegated to the Championship. Also, three teams from the Championship get promoted to the EPL at the end of each season.

The MLS operates as a fixed/closed league, and it’s one of the few football leagues that operate using this system. The league doesn’t have a relegation rule — no team can be relegated from the league. Also, no team can be “promoted” to the league except added by the MLS. New teams are added to the MLS to increase their national reach and secure TV rights.

  • Table Format

The MLS has two league tables, divided according to the geographical location of the clubs. The two groups are called the Eastern and Western Conferences. Teams in the same group play against each other and sometimes with teams in other conferences.

In contrast, the English Premier League has just one table where 20 teams face each other home and away in a 38-games season.

  • Championship Match

 The team with the most points after playing all 19 teams home and away wins the league in the EPL. However, that’s not the case in the MLS.

The Major League Soccer Cup is what decides the winner of the league. Although the teams that topped the table in the two MLS tables qualify for the MLS semifinal cup, the top seven teams from both conferences play against each other, and the winner is crowned the Champion.

  • Finance

 The English Premier League is the most lucrative soccer league globally, so players receive huge salaries. In fact, clubs relegated from EPL could spend more on salary than the biggest club in the MLS.

The Premier League teams are privately-owned and generate money by themselves with shirt sponsorship and stadium naming rights sales. In the MLS, owners have shares with the league and are allowed to operate a team. The league is operated centrally, and this is not the case with the EPL.

Final Thoughts

The English Premier League and Major League Soccer are two successful leagues that operate distinctly. However, while there are several differences between them, many similarities are also shared between the two leagues.

The English league has been very prosperous – arguably the best in the world, and the MLS has also been making giant strides in recent years. The expectation is that the American soccer league will excel greatly in the coming years to rival the best in the world.

Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer

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