Comparing the CPL to the MLS and European soccer

Comparing CPL’s Standing Amongst Major Leagues

Canada has an interesting sporting position in the world, thanks to participation in many major leagues alongside the USA. However, one of its unique sporting institutions is the CPL (Canadian Premier League), an alternative to the recently formed but highly successful MLS that runs along broadly similar lines. The all-Canadian aspect makes it a little different, with only a minority Canadian (three of 29 teams) participating in the MLS. But how does it stack up to the MLS or to the globally popular soccer leagues of Europe?

Where to Bet on the CPL

Canadians are avid spectators when it comes to sports, including the CPL. The age-old prohibition on wagers that are not parlay bets was thrown aside recently, and the arrival of single-event sports betting has made the pastime far more appealing as it’s much easier to win with a single bet than a parlay (also known as a multiple/accumulator bet). Online casinos are a popular choice for betting, including on sports, and many Canadians like to place bets at Bet99 Casino. recommends Bet99 Casino because there’s not only a great selection of sports markets but more than 1,500 casino games from which to pick, making it a fantastic establishment for every betting need.

Canadian Premier League

The Canadian Premier League (CPL) is something of a unique beast in the sporting jungle as the top-flight league for soccer in Canada. It sits alongside the MLS (Major League Soccer) in the same way the CFL is an all-Canadian alternative to the NFL. However, there is a substantial difference, as the NFL has only US-based teams, so a Canadian version makes intuitive sense. A small number of teams from Canada (Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and CF Montréal) compete in the MLS. Every one of the eight teams in the CPL are Canadian. This includes teams from Toronto (competing as York United) and Vancouver, who double up with entrants in both the CPL and MLS. Because of the small number of teams, each plays against the others four times, with two home and two away games. After the regular season, the league leader concludes qualifications for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup, while the top five qualify for the playoffs.

A problem the CPL has faced in expansion, either in terms of teams or presence on the international stage, is that the competition is very strong in highly similar sports. In the USA, the MLS is already highly successful and growing rapidly. In Europe, there are not only top-class soccer leagues, but these are supported by substantial lower divisions, with England’s football league being a prime example. Within Canada itself, the CPL has yet to really get going and isn’t even in the top 100 global sporting leagues by revenue. However, the CPL only started playing annual seasons in 2019, so it is very early days, and Canada’s population and wealth are sufficient for it to increase in size substantially on a purely domestic basis.


The CPL is run along lines broadly similar to a small European soccer league (akin to the Scottish Premiership, by and large). However, the MLS does not operate on a single league/table formula as per most other soccer leagues, taking the more typically American approach of splitting the competition into Eastern and Western Conferences. Its leading position in North America also means the MLS is one of the foremost betting markets, and wagers on it are often possible (though it’s always wise to check a Canada casino review to make sure). There’s also a quirk to how the fixture list in the MLS is handled. While the home and away matches versus every other team in the same conference makes intuitive sense, it’s unusual that every team also plays a match against sides in the other conference. But not all of them.

Playoffs are popular in the major leagues of North America. While European soccer leagues simply have the table-topping team win the league title at the end of a season, both the CPL and MLS playoffs determine the ultimate victor of a season. This means that the CPL is approximately the midway point between a European soccer league (with a set number of home and away games versus every other team plus a single league table and all teams from the same nation) and a North American major league (with playoffs determining the ultimate winner). The MLS leans more in the major league direction, with the conferences splitting the teams and a few teams from Canada (with most from the USA). Another substantial divergence of both the CPL and MLS from European leagues is the total absence of relegation, as the lowest team is not subject to demotion to a lower league. The rapid expansion of the MLS has also seen it attract leading European players over the years, such as David Beckham and the likes of Lionel Messi (who is in the running for the Newcomer of the Year award in 2023).

European Soccer Leagues

The major leagues of North America are the biggest sporting leagues in the world, but European soccer leagues are right behind them. The only entry in the top five sporting leagues by revenue outside of the major leagues is the English Premier League (which is ranked fourth, behind the NFL, MLB, and NBA, and right ahead of the NHL). The EPL and the other top soccer leagues in Europe, such as France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, and the German Bundesliga, all operate on a slightly different basis to the CPL, however.

Winning a soccer league in Europe involves no playoffs whatsoever. Instead, teams amass points during the lengthy regular season (the number of teams per league varies; the EPL has 20). There are 3 for a win and 1 for a draw. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the season wins that league. However, the top few teams (again, this varies according to the particular league) advance to the Europe-wide Champions League, a club competition that pits the top teams from across the continent against one another. In that sense, it could be compared to the way playoffs operate, though on a much larger scale. In addition, there’s initially a group stage followed by knockout rounds.

Canada’s equivalent to the EPL, the Canadian Premier League, has eight teams but is a minnow compared to the European giants of soccer. Major League Soccer is the 10th biggest sport by revenue, behind the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1, but the last four (and the MLS) are all next to each other in the rankings. Given North America has traditionally not been that into soccer compared to the rest of the world, this is quite a remarkable success story. It also eclipses the CPL.

The CPL brings something different to the world of sport, but in terms of size and popularity, it is outclassed by rivals such as the NFL and European soccer leagues.

Comparing the CPL to the MLS and European soccer

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