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MLS ranked 7th best soccer league in the world by Sporting Intelligence

Published: Tuesday, April 23 2013 3:05 p.m. MDT

Major League Soccer is the seventh best soccer league in the world, according to Sporting Intelligence.

The survey of world leagues takes into account attendance, finances, goals, competitiveness, caliber of players and managers, stadiums and success in continental competitions, according to ProSoccer Talk.

The German Bundesliga is the top league in the world followed closely by the English Premier League, according to the rankings. Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, MLS, Holland and France round out the top 10.

According to tweets by Sporting Intelligence, the English Premier League was severely docked for quality of stadiums, and while MLS has built many new soccer specific stadiums, Sporting Intelligence noted that MLS scored well in competitiveness and other areas.

One of the reasons the MLS has vaulted up the rankings may be parity of play. Many of the world's top leagues are dominated by a small group of elite teams. Manchester United recently won its 20th league title, and fifth in seven years. Bayern Munich has won five of the last 10 Bundesliga titles, and nine of the last 10 La Liga titles have been won by either Real Madrid or Barcelona.

In contrast, five different teams have won the MLS Supporters' Shield for best record, and seven different teams have hoisted the MLS Cup in the last decade.

In 2012, the MLS ranked eighth in total attendance for soccer leagues across the world, and had a higher average attendance than the NHL and NBA. In 2012, the MLS set records for total attendance with Seattle Sounders FC leading the way for the fourth year in a row with an average attendance of 43,144.

Despite the increasing attendance figures, MLS lags far behind other league in player salaries. The lack of a major television deal has kept average salaries relatively low. MLS teams have a salary cap of $2.95 million with non designated players making as little as $35,125. The lack of salary money has made it hard for MLS clubs to attract top-tier talent in their prime.

New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry has openly stated his displeasure with the MLS salary cap structure.

“If you’re in any other league in the world, you keep your good players. Not in this league,” said Henry in an interview with MLSSoccer.com. "It is an American way of dealing with things, salary cap, draft, trade. In Europe, we don’t do that. In Europe, if you perform for your team, you’re sure of staying. But here it’s different and if you want to be compared to some of the big leagues in Europe, something has to be changed. I don’t know what, but something has to be changed.”

Ryan Carreon is a web editor for DeseretNews.com. E-mail him at rcarreon@desnews.com

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