The top two leagues in North America are MLS and Liga MX, and one of the few coaches in recent years to experience both thinks MLS is in a great spot looking forward.
Oscar Pareja, who was announced as Orlando City's next head coach this week, spoke to Extratime on Thursday and discussed the contrasts between the two leagues, after spending the past year in charge of Liga MX outfit Club Tijuana.
While Liga MX tends to be the stronger side in head-to-head competition, MLS sides have made headway over the past decade and Pareja thinks MLS should be optimistic in general.
"I think sometimes it's the perception we all have, more than the reality," Pareja said. "I see Liga MX as a great league, it has great players, the quality of the players is fantastic, and the quality of the coaches' strategy, the tactics. But Major League Soccer is growing tremendously and sometimes people here in the country don't recognize it because we're all here, but I think the league is growing."
"I think all those differences [between the leagues] are going to be reduced. But there are some characteristics of Major League Soccer, in my opinion, that are going [to be] even better," he added.
The new Orlando City boss, who was MLS Coach of the Year in 2016 with FC Dallas, was asked in what areas specifically he thinks MLS is currently ahead of Liga MX.
"I think the organization, the stadiums, I think the involvement of the fans with their clubs, I think the pluses with the academies are growing as well, a lot," he said.
As for what can be improved? Pareja said MLS's standards have helped it grow, but some advancements could be made to stay competitive in the Americas overall.
"Major League Soccer has standards and rules and a system in place, to grow probably in a constant mode. And in Liga MX and South America, they're more aggressive on these parts: signing of players and the dynamics. But for me it's a way to do things. The pace of growing in Major League Soccer is great, I think going in a good place."
Catch the full interview with Pareja and the full episode of Thursday's Extratime.