Admit it, you’re an MLS snob who has never really given the USL much of a though. It’s okay to confess the transgression because fans in MLS markets throughout the country are oblivious to the USL, or worse, some just think the league is terrible and no match for Major League Soccer.
Some folks are going to have to start re-thinking that belief after the most recent results in the CONCACAF Champions League. Not only did the Puerto Rico Islanders and Montreal Impact post wins in their first Champions League group matches. They did so by beating two teams that are fresh from eliminating a pair of MLS teams.
You will recall Joe Public FC of Trinidad & Tobago, the same team that mauled the New England Revolution by an aggregate score of 6-1. The Montreal Impact, which knocked out Toronto FC to qualify for the Champions league, disposed of that same Joe Public team, 2-0, in their opening group match on Wednesday.
As for the Puerto Rico Islanders? They topped Panamanian club Tauro FC, 2-1, on Wednesday. Tauro is the same team that eliminated Chivas USA from the competition.
Does this mean that USL teams could beat MLS teams on a regular basis? I wouldn’t go that far. I think it’s fair to say that Montreal and Puerto Rico would both struggle if they had to play a full season in MLS. What the results do show, however, is that the quality of play in USL is much better than some MLS fans realize or want to give the league credit for.
If you are still skeptical, consider this number: MLS teams are a combined 0-3-2 in five CONCACAF Champions League matches. And USL teams? Try a combined 4-0-2.
You might want to think about that the next time you scoff at an MLS team signing a USL player, or an MLS team falls to a USL opponent in the U.S. Open Cup.