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[FM21] EXPERIMENT - National Soccer League (NSL)


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NATIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE

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THE CONCEPT: A new National Soccer League (NSL) has been formed in the USA, replacing the MLS as the elite football (soccer) competition in the nation, and joining baseball, gridiron football, ice hockey, and basketball as one of the "Big 5" sports in the USA.  Teams are provided at a state level, with each of the country's 50 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico, providing a single side to the competition.  Teams are generally based at the largest stadia already present in their state, but for those with little or no national-sized sporting infrastructure, new or upgraded 20,000 seater stadiums have been purpose-built.  Each side is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, and is funded by huge amounts of money, primarily from sponsorship and TV money, as is typical for US sports.  Unlike typical US sports however, clubs are member-owned, and headed by single-term presidents, in order to ensure long-term stability and competition within teams and between teams.

THE COMPETITIONS: The NSL is divided into four divisions of 13 teams each, which unlike existing competitions such as the NFL, are randomly drawn rather than geographic.  The top four teams from each division will enter the post-season playoffs; a straight single-leg knockout competition with every match played at a neutral one of the 52 NSL stadiums.  On top of this, a new National Soccer Cup (NSC) is introduced as a straight-knockout competition with each round aside from the final played over two legs, during the course of the regular season.  The winners of the NSC and the top three sides in the NSL (the playoff finalists and the highest-ranked of the losing semi-finalists) enter the following season's North American Champions League in place of MLS as per previous years.

USMNT: The US Men's National Team, while consistently in the top 25 of men's footballing nations, has never been as successful as it was way back in the first World Cup back in 1930, where it reached the semi-final, losing to runners-up Argentina.  One of the primary objectives of the NSL is to enhance the USMNT, with a stated aim of reaching the semi-finals again by 2034, the final by 2042, and winning the World Cup by 2050 at the latest.  As well as a huge population combined with a vastly better funded youth infrastructure - matching levels seen in Western Europe - NSL rules state that each team must name at least 12 nationally home-grown (that is, having spent at least 3 years playing football in the US before the age of 21) players in their 20-man (starting 11 + 9 substitutes) match-day squads, in both the NSL and NSC.  This means only 8 non-home-grown players may be named in match-squads - a huge bias being shown towards home-grown players, which the NSL chiefs hope will benefit the USMNT, as well as national teams elsewhere in North and Central America for which a number of US-based players will be expected to turn out internationally.

TO BE TRACKED: In short, plenty.  As well as updates on NSL and NSC performances, round-ups of the NSL U23s competitions, the World Cup, all major continental international competitions, the NACL, and the Club World Championship will be provided.  The World's best players, Ballon d'Or winners, and record-breaking players will be tracked, as well as those with the highest potential, and statistics will be collated on the NSL, both in terms of the clubs and the players in the league, when compared to those in the rest of the world.  Additionally, a new international competition - the Euro-Americas Cup - will be held on a biannual basis, pitting the 12 highest ranked European nations against the 12 highest ranked American sides (six each from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL).

 

All and any comments, questions, or requests are welcomed.  I hope to be able to keep this thread updated semi-regularly, and progress at the very least to a point in time at which the USA are winning or challenging for World Cups along with the best Western European and South American nations, and young American players are consistently matching those from elsewhere around the world in ability and potential.

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NATIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

CHAMPIONS
Kansas - 1 - (2020/21)
Michigan - 1 - (2021/22)
Massachusetts - 1 - (2022/23)
Colorado - 1 - (2023/24)
Nevada - 1 - (2024/25)
North Dakota - 1 - (2025/26)
Alaska - 1 - (2026/27)
New Jersey - 1 - (2027/28)

ALL TIME POINTS RANKINGS*
image.png.4f6cf64ff1f69deb70489ceca263814f.png

*Based on 10 points for winning, 7 for reaching the final, 4 for reaching the semi-finals, 2 for reaching the quarter finals, and 1 for reaching the playoffs.  Up to date as of July 2024

 

NATIONAL SOCCER CUP CHAMPIONS

CHAMPIONS
Massachusetts - 2 - (2022/23, 2023/24)
Virginia - 1 - (2020/21)
North Carolina - 1 - (2021/22)
North Dakota - 1 - (2024/25)
New Jersey - 1 - (2025/26)
Pennsylvania - 1 - (2026/27)
Georgia - 1 - (2027/28)

 

TROPHIES BY US STATE

image.png.3f5faecc5fd49f952d90b98314485f07.png

 

 

Edited by Dave.
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NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

image.png.39e61f4b2803e6469bff53c2de5411ec.png Monterrey - 4 (2011, 2012, 2013, 2019)
image.png.7cc2242c9f2b5a41d1f0575a972a40b3.png Pachuca - 2 - (2010, 2017)
image.png.81b26f7377d77ff7961d35a8dd8f554c.png América - 2 - (2015, 2016)
image.png.715182661d5f9842dcf04e04ce25ea16.png Atlante - 1 - (2009)
image.png.fc3e6c0533f313f9cb77d72cbc290bda.png Cruz Azul - 1 - (2014)
image.png.f4cb4757bd350410e56f87c0bb63936c.png Chivas - 1 - (2018)
image.png.26d6054e02a49da2086eb766192d25ae.png Tigres - 1 - (2021)
image.png.350264fbf8c0cec930696c6dcb064d8d.png Massachusetts - 1 - (2022)
image.png.f85f899f7d06193b140683acba051114.png Michigan - 1 - (2023)
image.png.058bae72b7153354a8cc0a41c308b207.png Colorado - 1 - (2024)
image.png.058bae72b7153354a8cc0a41c308b207.png North Carolina - 1 - (2025)
image.png.058bae72b7153354a8cc0a41c308b207.png Nevada - 1 - (2026)
image.png.058bae72b7153354a8cc0a41c308b207.png North Dakota - 1 - (2027)
image.png.058bae72b7153354a8cc0a41c308b207.png New Jersey - 1 - (2028)

 

CLUB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CHAMPIONS*

image.png.48053627a8130e52e7d2761b2dcc4bcd.png Liverpool - 2 - (2022, 2025)

 

*Since format change in 2022 only

Edited by Dave.
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WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS

image.png.10b7fe078ecec75309dfd3b8c646de59.png Brazil - 6 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002, 2026)
image.png.ed0e9a64c55cef2476fde1add326dfb3.png Italy - 4 - (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
image.png.57817b3f1c413baafeebbfdc3c26bc57.png Germany - 4 - (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
image.png.43453b3153f8152a5d2a0e87249490a7.png Uruguay - 2 - (1930, 1950)
image.png.049a66edc1f5e2e9299dca13f155e73f.png Argentina - 2 - (1978, 1986)
image.png.aa79b5fc8c0c0c6c52d544d2d7506177.png France - 2 - (1998, 2018)
image.png.ce89ec14fb04a57afbff5cae4260212c.png England - 1 - (1966)
image.png.db440addad14f8e0bca6d9f08017cb7a.png Spain - 1 - (2010)
image.png.5bb33a7f6d9b41830db5abfb556f40fb.png Wales - 1 - (2022)

 

EURO-AMERICAS CUP CHAMPIONS (NATION)

image.png.db440addad14f8e0bca6d9f08017cb7a.png Spain - 2 - (2021, 2023)
image.png.10b7fe078ecec75309dfd3b8c646de59.png Brazil - 1 (2025)
image.png.bcaf0367bf88874963490b046e6f2ac0.png Netherlands - 1 - (2027)

EURO-AMERICAS CUP CHAMPIONS (CONTINENT)

Europe - 3 - (2021, 2025, 2027)
Americas - 1- (2023)

 

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS CHAMPIONS

image.png.0fa2877277649f7574d565c482c129ef.png Egypt - 7 - (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010)
image.png.cbe293587ca57b140833ad76876ea443.png Cameroon - 6 - (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017, 2027)
image.png.876b713676888ff06746ccbdc94e9423.png Ghana - 4 - (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982)
image.png.c9f735c5be386a0ba59be6bd6652d50f.png Ivory Coast - 4 - (1992, 2015, 2022, 2023)
image.png.242e5efa1f739b61b02ad86a2f849376.png Nigeria - 4 - (1980, 1994, 2013, 2025)
image.png.cd3d39d5e3a6c26d7f44f976f56e189a.png DR Congo - 2 - (1968, 1974)
image.png.f8d1afabb7fb97eb8df477c6cbcc2914.png Algeria - 2 - (1990, 2019)
image.png Ethiopia - 1 - (1962)
image.png.b4e8c2a20cb382f3240ab38ee15d182b.png Sudan - 1 - (1970)
image.png.96c1e6998baee50b9b103b808dfbd87b.png Congo - 1 - (1972)
image.png.e5985c7e9cc1247eb1a2811c8ba01b27.png Morocco - 1 - (1976)
image.png.e696d1a2f9a012b17dd0c94769013bfb.png South Africa - 1 - (1996)
image.png.d10fca51f17506907a723d8b8c0611f6.png Tunisia - 1 - (2004)
image.png.558e025681599bcfe27754efc591a6e3.png Zambia - 1 - (2012)

 

ASIAN NATIONS CUP CHAMPIONS

image.png.e7fcbb33c07982c2d9f0383c38e68038.png Japan - 4 - (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011)
image.png.2d5c82d1be051e5e73758793097e4bae.png Iran - 3 - (1968, 1972, 1976)
image.png.395afe9457e1768827d22eab2d9c83ef.png Saudi Arabia - 3 - (1984, 1988, 1996)
image.png.0e561fe5929d28f07ad8116c8b6e4a08.png South Korea - 2 - (1956, 1960)
image.png.5a32b02919808cc6290e2f39056616e5.png Australia - 2 - (2015, 2023)
image.png.ccef8227f09c80d80591f6b4393ef218.png Israel - 1 - (1964)
image.png.bd51b96e541caaab665c3180e1f09dd2.png Kuwait - 1 - (1980)
image.png.667fafa33e2fe42c8d12329280dc5a37.png Iraq - 1 - (2007)
image.png.49aa4bd1ea43b9832e998059314a69ed.png Qatar - 1 - (2019)
image.png.a317f84cc8f9c96fde6ea8dd82ca6674.png Thailand - 1 - (2027)

 

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP CHAMPIONS

image.png.c231c4ae4ef8b16b1c5d02f5bb240f08.png Germany - 3 - (1972, 1980, 1996)
image.png.94bae874a8f1eecc0c169480685d4dfd.png Spain - 3 - (1964, 2008, 2012)
image.png.45e2363240fa99eadf937eba84d08d3f.png France - 2 - (1984, 2000)
image.png.4a6456ed94eafcc193524a34935a265f.png Portugal - 2 - (2016, 2021)
image.png.1e791bf937f2869b9604f42a36d02786.png Denmark - 2 - (1992, 2028)
image.png.3694bc765f3018524d3682c183309535.png Russia - 1 - (1960)
image.png.87a76eff641205a66bbbe75c26a0fab2.png Italy - 1 - (1968)
image.png.c335cace187c1c819dc41c7d1b504d8e.png Czech Republic - 1 - (1976)
image.png.bcaf0367bf88874963490b046e6f2ac0.png Netherlands - 1 - (1988)
image.png.3a4cb60c8841e29742c0aa1c8e0626ea.png Greece - 1 - (2004)
image.png.0b06c0d79e14ff42d070dce78f9bfc04.png Ukraine - 1 - (2024)

 

NORTH AMERICAN GOLD CUP CHAMPIONS

image.png.18e1eb439ac48461e13acb7737012cd7.png Mexico - 11 - (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2025, 2027)
image.png.916f8dbff353f678f53301e6f2f5c13c.png USA - 6 - (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017)
image.png.f25ce09a5d90849b2fc8557b448e8055.png Canada - 1 - (2000)
image.png.c0843b17a7cdc87258040d33c31a5d48.png Jamaica - 1 - (2023)

 

COPA AMÉRICA CHAMPIONS

image.png.aaaf9c6091ff6bd5725a9b253658f34f.png Uruguay - 15 - (1916, 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1935, 1942, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1983, 1987, 1995, 2011)
image.png.834d407b2fe0f1a30c6a20d82ad590b5.png Argentina - 15 - (1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1991, 1993, 2021)
image.png.10b7fe078ecec75309dfd3b8c646de59.png Brazil - 10 - (1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007, 2019, 2028)
image.png.6022b676bd7e2efc3eafb64486c35218.png Peru - 2 - (1939, 1975)
image.png.ae80e6edda81ea27b4e760d437c7c291.png Paraguay - 2 - (1953, 1979)
image.png.4cf9ed926a6b78009718f23c111eb8f2.png Chile - 2 - (2015, 2016)
image.png.d4f4eaaaedb62f6358ce706383a5b1a9.png Bolivia - 1 - (1963)
image.png Colombia - 1 - (2001)
image.png.abed2eba7e17a028e68198b585f980b9.png Ecuador - 1 - (2024)

 

OCEANIA NATIONS CUP CHAMPIONS

image.png.53baf96d4f067b71230d2e4a55a3a3c4.png New Zealand - 7 - (1973, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2016, 2024, 2028)
image.png.3bdb63fba6e4205f9b4f7ee263e9fa5a.png Australia - 4 - (1980, 1996, 2000, 2004)
image.png.36ecb9f4023858737f312a8bc663059a.png Tahiti - 1 - (2012)

Edited by Dave.
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195+ CA PLAYERS*1

image.png.62803f600d236d2701fe6b718736706a.png Lionel Messi - 200 CA/200 PA
image.png.876b713676888ff06746ccbdc94e9423.png Nicholas Ohene - 198CA/199PA
image.png.fabdf8c11a99a9a7875d4afb76fc3fee.png Eduardo Camavinga - 198 CA/198 CA
image.png.777313bc40153ee8a6bc4faca9c0facd.png Cristiano Ronaldo - 196 CA/196 PA
image.png.4692b6b7e6654ce57c9119bd8520e586.png Kylian Mbappé - 196 CA/196 PA
image.png.62803f600d236d2701fe6b718736706a.png Pedro Ferraresi - 196 CA/196 PA

 

200+ INTERNATIONAL CAPS

image.png.43d665b17cd2cc797cf39b119ff0a2e8.png Andrés Guardado - 202 caps

 

200+ INTERNATIONAL GOALS

image.png.777313bc40153ee8a6bc4faca9c0facd.png Cristiano Ronaldo - 114 goals

 

BALLON D'OR WINNERS*2

image.png.62803f600d236d2701fe6b718736706a.png Lionel Messi - 6 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017)
image.png.777313bc40153ee8a6bc4faca9c0facd.png Cristiano Ronaldo - 5 - (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
image.png.4692b6b7e6654ce57c9119bd8520e586.png Kylian Mbappé - 5 - (2022, 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027)
image.png.364392dbc7ae28bdd51394f4a172daaa.png Ronaldo - 2 - (1997, 2002)
image.png.0d56aa8569cd47e1dccb618877eb1c35.png George Weah - 1 - (1995)
image.png.639ccc7c12e5c40a175b9a9ba5bc882d.png Matthias Sammer - 1 - (1996)
image.png Zinedine Zidane - 1 - (1998)
image.png.364392dbc7ae28bdd51394f4a172daaa.png Rivaldo - 1 - (1999)
image.png.777313bc40153ee8a6bc4faca9c0facd.png Luis Figo - 1 - (2000)
image.png.d0f47f0914a97cd40c79647266667e16.png Michael Owen - 1 - (2001)
image.png.8709363238bff1dcc907c89a419dc1eb.png Pavel Nedved - 1 - (2003)
image.png.4ee7f4a74cd8b19c044925c00a5ac93a.png Andriy Shevchenko - 1 - (2004)
image.png.364392dbc7ae28bdd51394f4a172daaa.png Ronaldinho - 1 - (2005)
image.png.9914c8add05dea6df2cbc0362c8f8c2d.png Fabio Cannavaro - 1 - (2006)
image.png.364392dbc7ae28bdd51394f4a172daaa.png Kaká - 1 - (2007)
image.png.f44ef1f83d167acbe410b36925c3c544.png Luka Modric - 1 - (2018)
image.png.777313bc40153ee8a6bc4faca9c0facd.png Bernardo Silva - 1 - (2021)
image.png.6ddf01e9fa73049f2ab58954a3451fa3.png Mohamed Salah - 1 - (2023)

 

*1 - With the game starting in 2020, Messi and Ronaldo were adjudged to be slightly lower in CA than PA.  However, we can safely assume that both of these players reached their potential at their peaks.
*2 - Ballon d'Or winners counted from 1995 onwards; when award was made open to all players from accross the world and not just Europeans.

Edited by Dave.
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NORTH AMERICAN PLAYERS

image.png.ab328e3f067210393e4509daceae2c95.png

 

TOP NATIONS DEPTH IN ABILITY AND POTENTIAL

image.png.b600bba9737a7b8d8b7204b9b101164c.png 

 

BEST PLAYERS BY NATION

image.png.c99290a7f89a9c9332e9aa2dc2e4498e.png

 

HIGHEST RATED YOUNGSTERS BY NATION

image.png.b29b23a8d38cf03d63e531092753207b.png

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19 hours ago, corinthiano said:

Having moved to the US recently I will be following with interest :)

Great to have you along for the ride!

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2020/21 NSL

Winners: KANSAS

Kansas become the first state to win the NSL, after defeating Massachusetts in a tight final.  These were certainly two teams which deserved to be in the final, having won their respective divisions in qualifying for the playoff.  It may have been a momentous political occasion in real-world Georgia last night, but there was nothing momentous about Georgia's performance in the inaugural NSL, as the side finished bottom of the pile with the lowest points tally of all 52 states (well, 50 states + DC and PR... for now).  No screenshots or particularly in-depth tracking of the U23s competition, which is run as four separate divisions without playoffs, but the winners in 2020/21 are Oregon, Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia.

image.png.51d4dd90904217ecd39dffbfefbac3cc.png

image.png.41ee65c9d6c5ea56ddd526c1ae92da28.png

image.thumb.png.0348d7b101f05e769ce41854267e25c0.png

image.thumb.png.94eb1b3051e056402d39abc97b6bfdfb.png

 

Edited by Dave.
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2020/21 NSC

Winners: VIRGINIA

No match stats from the final unfortunately as I did not have full detail switched on automatically for the NSC, oddly - this will not be an issue going forward in future seasons.  However, the latter rounds are shown below, starting from the third round.  12 teams get a bye in the first round, and this along with the second round will not be reported on due to the amount of required screenshots.  All matches are over two legs, except the final, which is played at a neutral venue.

image.png.cb3277d15c7960da9c398ace3acbb76c.png

 

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2021 International Competitions

With the (fictionally over, it seems) COVID-19 pandemic delaying international competitions, there were three tournaments in the summer of 2021, in Europe and in North and South America.  The winners of each competition - Portugal, Mexico, and Argentina - are not particularly surprising, as each have won their respective competition before.  However, the runners-up in Poland in Europe and Qatar(!) in North America certainly were somewhat of a surprise.  The USA had a disappointing Gold Cup campaign, losing 1-0 to Jamaica in the quarter finals.

 

2021 European Championship

Winners: image.png.eeaca7aed947a45258ed6c8da750f49e.png Portugal

image.png.c64d47d08789f9a83bbf4ad7d595ae8e.png

 

2021 North American Gold Cup

Winners: image.png.6ef0233b368a0ced1ad6472319fe13ad.png Mexico

image.png.3b6e313533f5df19cfb6cb62c201468d.png

 

2021 Copa América

Winners: image.png.152c3ab4192148e672bb810a512c01de.png Argentina

image.png.ac58426ea7fbd2e17f3b71ce98b4a626.png

Edited by Dave.
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2021 Euro-Americas Cup

So, to the inaugural Euro-Americas Cup.  This is played every two years, and fits around the schedules of other international competitions.  The teams that enter are the top 12 ranked European nations, and the top 6 ranked nations from each of South America and North America.  The host is selected from one of these nations, and this year it was Argentina.  The teams face off in a one-legged first round, drawn randomly; so some European teams face other European teams, and so on.  Following these, the remaining 12 teams are drawn into four groups of three, where they play each other once, before the winners advance to one-legged semi-finals and final.  As well as the tournament winner, who this year were Spain after defeating England in a tight match on penalties, the continental winners (either Europe or America) is decided on a points-based system, where each team is granted a point for every win, and half a point for a group stage draw - 27 points are available in total.  Europe dominated their American counterparts this year, winning by a resounding 22-5 margin.  Hosts Argentina suffered a surprise first round defeat to Costa Rica, while USA went down at the same stage to Portugal.

National Winners: image.png.e81ac0faaf7cfd1d19085249fa910b4e.png Spain

Continental Winners: Europe (22-5)

image.png.76aa65017749a4a770476bce44ee044b.png

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2021 World Player Stats

A quick dive here into some of the stats of players in the world right now, both at the start of the game and on 1 July 2021.  These stats will be updated each year on 1 July, and some interesting bits and pieces will be presented from time to time, or will be available on request (if possible).  This year, a brief summary of the world's best players is presented below, as well as those best players in the NSL.  It's going to take a little bit of time for quality and star names in the NSL to rival that of the big European leagues, but some big signings have already been made in the first season - the CA high player (161) is Rodrigo Bentancur, the PA high player (172) is Dayot Upamecano, and the value high player (£55.17m) is Leon Bailey.  No players from USA - or even North America - yet find themselves among the top 50 (or equal) world players, but both the US and Mexico have a player in the top 25 PA U21 players - so this may change soon enough.

image.png.287d65ac9ed56cc2d8fd1a22dbd73642.png

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2021/22 NSL

Winners: MICHIGAN

Michigan came out of nowhere to claim their first NSL title, having finished third in their division, before edging Arkansas in the final.  This was the second consecutive time the two sides had made the playoffs, with Michigan making the quarter finals last season as Arkansas went out at the first stage.  Arkansas can feel a little hard done by this year; not only were they the better team in the final, but they were the best team across all four divisions in the league stage.  Defending champions Kansas had an awful season, finishing 9th in an uber-tight Division A.  The winners of the U23 divisions in 2021/22 are Oregon (again), Nevada, Nebraska, and Massachusetts.

image.png.70255131bd6d1757b2e43ffb15da115d.png

image.png.5aac4427061225d484bd86c51c4eae30.png

image.thumb.png.cda3eb9d0c178ae364dfa717af942ac2.png

image.thumb.png.ea2c0f0ba766eee74ffcf001fbdd3d93.png

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2021/22 NSC

Winners: NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina enjoyed their first taste of silverware, defeating West Virginia in a tight final.  It was a successful showing for North Carolina against the Virginias, thrashing last season's NSC winners Virginia 5-0 in the third round.  NSL champs Michigan were unable to do the double, losing in the quarter finals for the second year running.

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The "big" states Texans and California underperforming massively again, although I suppose state size doesnt really matter here :)

Great to see how all teams are relatively even! How are they doing in the NACL?

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15 hours ago, corinthiano said:

The "big" states Texans and California underperforming massively again, although I suppose state size doesnt really matter here :)

Great to see how all teams are relatively even! How are they doing in the NACL?

It doesn't massively matter - but bigger states tend to have bigger stadiums (as they tend to have more/larger existing sports teams) - while the likes of Alaska, Wyoming, the Dakotas etc. without a big 4 sports team have a new 20,000 seater stadium.  Also, being based in bigger cities (usually), the bigger states may have better youth players coming through, though I'm not exactly sure how this works.  Otherwise, as you say, size doesn't really matter as the teams are the same in all other respects.

And on the NACL - funny you should ask...

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Posted (edited)

2022 NACL

Winners: image.png.a46c58dbfb8240ccec316411118f28a6.png Massachusetts

2022 was the first season NSL teams entered the North American Champions League - and three states produced a fine showing.  Virginia were the exception, going out in the first round, but the other three states (Kansas, Massachusetts, and Kentucky), made the semi finals, as well as Canada's only team in Vancouver who had an excellent tournament.  All four Mexican teams lost in the quarter finals, in a disappointing display for them.  Massachusetts gained vengeance for their NSL playoff final defeat last season to Kansas - defeating them handily with two 2-1 legs.

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2022 Club World Championship

Winners: image.png.f86c477c910fb603d95192f3b90fc5a4.png Liverpool

The first edition of the expanded Club World Championship, to be held every four years, was dominated by the European sides - all of whom won their groups and earned a quarter finals lock-out.  Indeed, the only real shock of the tournament was New Zealand's Auckland City beating off Beijing of China to make it into the tournament-proper.  The final was a tight affair, but a clinical Liverpool saw off under-par fellow English side Man City to lift the title.  North America's three berths were granted to Massachusetts of the USA and Tigres of Mexico, the NACL's two most recent winners, as well as the USA's Oregon, for reasons I am unable to fathom.  Tigres finished a disappointing third in their group with just one point, while both Massachusetts and Oregon won against South American sides in Sao Paulo and River Plate, but lost to European opposition in Juventus and Tottenham.  The positive news is that, in both the matches against Tottenham and Juventus, OR and MA were competitive.

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2022 International Competitions

The only continental international tournament in the summer of 2022 was the delayed African Cup of Nations.  Ivory Coast dominated the final against a lacklustre Senegal, who were looking to earn their first African Cup of Nations title in their history.  However, it was not to be, with a strong Ivory Coast performance earning them their third title.

2022 African Cup of Nations

Winners: image.png.f6b9523d66170b692f53e2213c9339e2.png Ivory Coast

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2022 World Player Stats

A quick dive here into some of the stats of players in the world right now, on 1 July 2022.  As previously noted, these stats - of which what you see below is merely a snippet - are updated and collated each year on 1 July.  Each year, some interesting bits and pieces will be presented from time to time, or will be available on request (if possible).  This year, a brief summary of the world's highest potential players, under the age of 21, is presented.  Of these players, only Eduardo Camavinga and Ilaix Moriba were present at the start of the game, with the other 10 being regens.  Some interesting nations are represented too; Congo, Montenegro, Guinea and Ghana (although all in addition to large Western European nations who are likely to be more enticing when it comes to selecting a national team to represent), as well as two North American players - one each for Mexico and the USA.  The American player, Nicolás Orio, is the only player of these twelve wunderkinden playing in the NSL; the highly rated Ohian representing Louisiana.

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2021 Ballon d'Or

Winner: image.png.0a9bfaf3a4bc2ba6f14d9c5a511a6684.png Bernardo Silva (Paris St Germain)

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After no award being given in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bernardo Silva (who made a huge $151M move to Paris from Man City) is the surprise winner of the 2021 Ballon d'Or, beating off Robert Lewandowski and ever-present Lionel Messi in the final three.

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2022 FIFA World Cup

Winners: image.png.c0786ef603bc807d40a28899b1e55f6e.png Wales

In probably the most stunning set of results ever seen at a World Cup, Wales (Wales!) finished up on top of the world, after the month of their lives which culminated in a 3-0 demolition of heavyweights Spain.  The Spanish dominated the final, but couldn't find a way to score against Wales, who's defence was as solid and resolute as their attack was clinical.  Make no mistake - this was not a freak result for Wales in 2022, who had already beaten Belgium, Senegal, France and England en route to the final, and are currently in the Nations League semi finals after finishing top of their group featuring the likes of Portugal and Belgium.  The USA made it to the Second Round, narrowly losing to Switzerland.  Satisfactory, if not particularly thrilling.

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US teams beating the Mexican teams in NACL is definitely different from real life haha

US national team surely should be disappointed with Second round after topping a group with Holland...

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16 hours ago, corinthiano said:

US teams beating the Mexican teams in NACL is definitely different from real life haha

US national team surely should be disappointed with Second round after topping a group with Holland...

Indeed - seems like all the money makes a difference!  The first in-game NACL (before NSL qualifiers started entering) involved four Mexican teams in the semi-finals.  I wonder if we'll ever see that again now?

Yes - it was a very disappointing result.  They played poorly too; only three shots on target, 0.45 xG, and 46% possession.  Only Gio Reyna was rated 7 or above.

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2022/23 NSL

Winners: Massachusetts

The best team on the continent last season, and now the best team in the country, Massachusetts win the NSL this season.  They finished top of a tight group, and made heavy work of the playoffs, but came through after two 1-1 draws and penalty shootout wins, and two 1-0 wins.  Tennessee - in their first NSL playoffs - looked much the better side in the run to the final, and indeed matched Massachusetts in many areas in the final, but it was not to be.  Size does not equal success it seems, with some of the biggest and most populous states in Texas and Illinois, as well as Georgia, finishing bottom of their groups, while the likes of Wyoming and Alaska continue to make it to the playoffs.  The winners of the U23 divisions in 2021/22 are Nevada (for the second time running), Michigan, Kentucky, and South Carolina

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2022/23 NSC

Winners: Massachusetts

They just cannot be stopped in their relentless march for silverware at the moment, Massachusetts, as they completed the US domestic double on the back of their 2022 NACL triumph.  No treble for them this season, as their playoff first round defeat last season (and no entry to the NACL for the current holders) meant that they were not involved in continental competition - but they will be among the favourites for each of the NACL, NSL, and NSC next season.

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2023 NACL

Winners: image.png.a8bcd73e4b6d728df271f661e5ff39e4.png Michigan

Mexican and US teams were largely kept apart this season, meaning that each semi-final was a match-up between the two biggest footballing nations on the continent.  They split these semi-finals, meaning that the final was also Mexico vs USA.  Michigan ran out comfortable winners in the end, defeating the continent's most successful team América 3-1 in a thrilling game.  The scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on América, though few could argue Michigan did not deserve to win.  What this result does demonstrate, however, is that the introduction of the NSL has, while ending their dominance, not resulted in the irrelevance of Mexican club football at the continental level.

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2023 International Competitions

Back to the usual schedule again after the COVID reshuffles, Africa, Asia, and North America held their continental competitions in the year following the World Cup.  Ivory Coast secured their second title in a row, and fourth in total, while Australia earned their second crown after edging out a tight final against surprise package Uzbekistan.  However, the shocks were reserved for the Gold Cup, where Jamaica triumphed for the first time.  Mexico look certain to lift another Gold Cup following a 6-3 win over Qatar and a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the quarter and semi finals respectively, while Jamaica beat Suriname before winning a penalty shootout against Canada - conquerors of the disappointing USMNT.  However, despite seeing less of the ball and creating fewer chances than Mexico, a clinical Jamaica led by Bobby Decordova-Reid stunned Mexico in Los Angeles to win the title.

 

2023 African Cup of Nations

Winners: image.png.fda96342fdfef93c8f5ea3278de132c1.png Ivory Coast

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2023 Asian Nations Cup

Winners: image.png.9310bd388ca62be6d25f4b9e6f8ba6e1.png Australia

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2023 North American Gold Cup

Winners: image.png.f42b1cce8c656b0caada49ce835ccf44.png Jamaica

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2023 Euro-Americas Cup

After such a dominant performance from Europe in 2021, the Americas could be forgiven for having low expectations coming into the 2023 edition.  However, they enjoyed a sensational tournament, with their sides winning eight out of twelve first round matches to essentially put their name on the trophy before the group stage had even begun.  Spain won again - still a huge force in international football - but the USA pushed them very close in the final, having enjoyed an excellent run during which they demonstrated that a bright future for the side may reasonably be expected.

National Winners: image.png.0908b77de6b84f843d06e3d84f8f6126.png Spain

Continental Winners: Americas (15.5-11.5)

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2022 Ballon d'Or

Winner: image.png.3e86a4364ec50c1ede019e019fe82824.png Kylian Mbappé (Paris St Germain)

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It was likely always going to be a matter of time until the prodigious talent that is Kylian Mbappé won the Ballon d'Or, and so his victory comes as little surprise.  He'll be challenging for several more in the coming seasons, for sure.  Sadio Mané and Messi (again) were the two players beaten off by Mbappé in the final three.

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2023 World Player Stats

A quick dive here into some of the stats of players in the world right now, on 1 July 2022.  As previously noted, these stats - of which what you see below is merely a snippet - are updated and collated each year on 1 July.  Each year, some interesting bits and pieces will be presented from time to time, or will be available on request (if possible). 

This year, an overview of which nations are represented by the world's best 25 and equal (actually 26) players.  As to be expected, the largest nations have the most players, and no prizes for guessing Slovenia's, Senegal's, Egypt's or Austria's player.  Somewhat surprisingly, Norway's player is not Erling Haaland, but Martin Odegaard.  He, along with Dejan Kulusevski, are the only two representatives of the top 25 players in the world currently plying their trade in the NSL, with Mississippi and Tennessee respectively.

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2023/24 NSL

Winners: Colorado

Colorado weren't exactly scintillating this season, but they got the job done.  Through to the playoffs in fifth place overall, and four solid 2-1 playoff wins saw them home, against a North Carolina side who are starting to get the taste of disappointment in the NSL.  Defeated finalists here added to the 2022 NSC winners' semi-final defeat three years ago.  They were second overall in the league stage, and were by far the best team up until the final in the playoffs.  However, Colorado augured their final triumph with a 2-1 win over standout side Massachusetts; current NSL title holders and former NACL winners, who finished first overall in the league stage by a massive 13 points from North Carolina.  Colorado's U23 team also earned their second U23 triumph in a great season for the club, joining Utah, Connecticut, and Kentucky (their second triumph) as the four U23 winners.

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2023/24 NSC

Winners: Massachusetts

They may have lost out to Colorado in the NSL semi finals, but Massachusetts ensured a third consecutive season with a trophy, beating Arizona in the NSC final to win the cup for the season year running.  Currently the nation's stand-out club, Massachusetts will again be competing on three fronts next season, as front-runners for the NSL, NSC, and NACL.

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2024 NACL

Winners: image.png.a8bcd73e4b6d728df271f661e5ff39e4.png Colorado

Tennessee were the surprise package this season, keeping Massachusetts from the final showdown with Colorado many were expecting.  Indeed, Tennessee put up a great fight in the final; winning the first leg away from home despite a massive attacking onslaught from Colorado.  However, they were taken to extra time in the second leg, and wonderkid Ferraresi (more on him shortly) broke Tennessee hearts and ensured the double for Colorado.  Non-US teams disappointed again in the NACL this season, with zero wins against US opposition between them.  Santos Laguna (of Mexico) were the only non-US representatives in the semi-finals.

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2024 International Competitions

Some big surprises here in the continental tournaments this summer.  Ukraine denied Holland their second Euros crown with a fully deserved victory in Berlin, and put their country's name onto the trophy for the very first time.  Over in South America, two sides were vying to enter the history books with their first Copa América title, but it was Ecuador who edged out Mexico to earn a stunning victory.  Normal service was very much resumed in Oceania, where New Zealand defeated Vanuatu in a closer than expected final to wrap up their sixth title.

 

2024 European Championship

Winners: image.png.05ba1522c9f70be6362f808907f05e03.png Ukraine

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2024 Copa América

Winners: image.png.75c834dcd589fc0d992a0e25b587e1f7.png Ecuador

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2024 Oceania Nations Cup

Winners: image.png.c1255f1c9da01c2e1d715512150b240c.png New Zealand

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2023 Ballon d'Or

Winner: image.png.3ea0276d078480e2bece0c3779b5ab1f.png Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

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Mohamed Salah wins the Ballon d'Or this season, becoming Egypt's first and Africa's second (after George Weah in 1995) winner.  Last season's winner Kylian Mbappé finished second this season, with Alaska's Gabriel Jesus - the first NSL player to make the top three -  in third.

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2024 World Player Stats

A quick dive here into some of the stats of players in the world right now, on 1 July 2022.  As previously noted, these stats - of which what you see below is merely a snippet - are updated and collated each year on 1 July.  Each year, some interesting bits and pieces will be presented from time to time, or will be available on request (if possible). 

This year, an overview of the most talented U21 players in the NSL.  I mentioned Ferraresi earlier; not only is the best player at the current NSL and NACL title holders, but he has the highest potential of any player in the NSL or outside of Europe generally, and has the fifth highest potential of any player in the world.  Nicolás Oria has been a highly touted youngster for a few seasons now after being brought through the youth system at Louisiana, but looks likely to move on with interest from Alaska, Oklahoma, and NACL runners-up Tennessee.  Jamaican and Chinese hopes will be placed on Blaise Gibbons and Cao Zhibin for years to come, and Eric Kabalisa is easily the most talented footballer ever from his country Rwanda.

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2024/25 NSL

Winners: Nevada

The major shock this season did not come in the post season, but in the regular season, where Massachusetts - for the past few years the nation's stand-out side - failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in their history.  This leaves defending champions Colorado as the only team to have made it to all five NSL playoffs so far.  Colorado did not, however, defend their title, losing 2-1 in the semi finals to eventual and deserving winners Nevada.  Nevada did not pull up trees in the regular season, but looked exceptional throughout the playoffs, right up until the final where they deservingly beat Wisconsin in a pulsating game.  Florida will have a few regrets, finishing above both finalists in Group D, before folding to 2020/21 winners Kansas at the first hurdle in the playoffs.  Nevada's U23 team also earned their third U23 triumph in a senior-junior double, matching Colorado's triumph of last season.  Oregon's U23s also won their third U23 title, while South Carolina's U23s won their second, and Kansas' U23s their first.

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Not sure how many are following the thread at this stage, but for those who are and see this post - fancy having a guess at who'll become the first two-time NSL champs?  Your choices are:

  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • Other
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2024/25 NSC

Winners: North Dakota

Some big hitters got pretty deep into the NSC this season, but ultimately, the tournament yielded a surprise winner in North Dakota.  Rhode Island had to settle for their second NSC final defeat, while Nevada were unable to complete a domestic double after defeat on penalties in the semi-final.  Elsewhere, Massachusetts lost out in the quarter final after a fairly dismal domestic season.

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2025 NACL

Winners: image.png.a8bcd73e4b6d728df271f661e5ff39e4.png North Carolina

Very few shocks here; all non-Mexican/US sides went out in the first round, and the US clubs won all four of their ties against the Mexican clubs in the quarter finals.  Many would have been expecting a Massachusetts-Colorado final, but instead were treated to a clash between North Carolina and Alaska.  It was the Tar Heel State who won the trophy - regarding which Alaska will feel more than aggrieved.  The Alaskans dominated both legs, but were unable to make their chances count, and will have to settle for runners-up.

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4 hours ago, Dave. said:

Not sure how many are following the thread at this stage, but for those who are and see this post - fancy having a guess at who'll become the first two-time NSL champs?  Your choices are:

  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • Other

Think my guess would be Colorado purely due to consistency.

 

Great updates by the way, enjoying seeing the elevated quality of players coming in!

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24 minutes ago, corinthiano said:

Think my guess would be Colorado purely due to consistency.

 

Great updates by the way, enjoying seeing the elevated quality of players coming in!

I think I agree with you, though if any of these five fade, I wouldn't be hugely surprised to see one of Alaska, Wisconsin, or North Carolina do it.

Glad you're enjoying following along!  And yes, the standard in players is certainly improving; particularly the younger, high PA players.

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2025 Club World Championship

Winners: image.png.f86c477c910fb603d95192f3b90fc5a4.png Liverpool

The Club World Championship is back, and while Europe didn't dominate like they did in 2022, with three non-European sides making the quarter finals this time (representing Brazil, Japan, and the USA), the overall result was still the same, with Liverpool wrapping up the title again.  In 2022, Man City were runners-up, while Bayern finished third; this time, it was Bayern in second and Man City finishing third.  In fact, Bayern really should have won; they totally dominated Liverpool in the final, but the English side were able to hold onto a slender early lead and see out the game.  It was certainly a better showing for the US sides this year, with two finishing in second in their groups, and Michigan making it through to the quarter finals where they were edged out by Man City.

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2025 International Competitions

No shock names on the international trophies this year, as Nigeria defeated Ghana in an exciting game for their fourth African Cup of Nations title, ending Ivory Coast's brief spell of dominance.  Over in North America, the USA did better than they have done in recent years in reaching the final, but were overpowered and taken apart by a ruthless Mexico side.

 

2025 African Cup of Nations

Winners: image.png.980eb6d257e00650960db9c7d4dee24b.png Nigeria

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2025 North American Gold Cup

Winners: image.png.81b94cec2c6574553341542e59d5442f.png Mexico

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July 2025 World Rankings

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2025 Euro-Americas Cup

Europe reclaimed their crown from the Americas with another strong showing, winning 19-8.  However, they were prevented from the dual victory by Brazil, who came through tight matches against Poland and Italy to seal their first Euro-Americas Cup title.  Turkey's win over Argentina was the only real surprise of the first round, while Poland impressed again with another run to the semi-finals to match their achievements of 2021, defeating Colombia and France along the way.

National Winners: image.png.3327fd9c2eba4164eef6e68eab4e13a7.png Brazil

Continental Winners: Europe (19-8)

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2024 Ballon d'Or

Winner: image.png.3e86a4364ec50c1ede019e019fe82824.png Kylian Mbappé (Paris St Germain)

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Mbappé becomes just the fourth player to win the Ballon d'Or multiple times (since players from all nations first became eligible in 1995), joining Ronaldo (both CR7 and R9) and Lionel Messi.  The Frenchman is looking better than ever, and still at just 26 years of age, has a lot left in him yet.  The two players in second and third this season are Harry Kane and Lautaro Martínez.

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2025 World Player Stats

A quick dive here into some of the stats of players in the world right now, on 1 July 2022.  As previously noted, these stats - of which what you see below is merely a snippet - are updated and collated each year on 1 July.  Each year, some interesting bits and pieces will be presented from time to time, or will be available on request (if possible). 

This year, we track the world's top 50 (and tied) players over the past 5 years, as well as those 50 (and tied) players aged 21 and under with the highest potential.  As can be seen from the graph below, European players dominate, going from under 70% of the world's top 50 players to over 80% in just five years.  This rise is largely down to South America's stagnation, with just 6 out of the world's top 51 players in 2025.  Africa have been fairly consistent, going from between 2 and 4 of the top 50(ish) players each year, while Asia have consistently had just one (Son Heung-Min) until now.  Conversely, North America have had none until now - with Mexico at last having a player on the list.  No Oceanic players (and for this, we will include Australia) have been within the world's top 50 players at any point.  

As can also be seen below, we track those of the world's top 50 (and tied) players over the past 5 years, as well as those 50 (and tied) players aged 21 and under with the highest potential, who play in the NSL as a percentage of those in the world.  The proportion of the best players in the world in the NSL has been up and down; with some of the cream of the crop first playing in the NSL from 2022, but never in the three years that followed reaching that peak.  On the other hand, the percentage of the highest rated youngsters in the world who play for NSL clubs has increased steadily year on year, and has in 2025 topped 20%.  If this fraction continues to rise, NSL clubs and North American nations will surely begin to reap the benefit.

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