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New York Red Bulls on Tour: France's Ligue 1

Off-season analysis of the Red Bulls if they were to play in European leagues. First stop - France.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Back in September, MLS Commissioner Don Garber was quoted as saying:

I do believe in 10 years’ time or less, people will think of us like Serie A, La Liga, and hopefully the way they think about the Premier League. If we continue to do things right and stay to our plan.

Let's pretend a bit...  It's the end of the 2025 season.  The United States will be hosting the World Cup in only seven months.  And to Garber's wish... MLS is a top tier league in the world.  Of course our beloved New York Red Bulls have just won a second Supporter's Shield in three years (sound familiar?). The Red Bulls are just as good as any Big 5 European team.  Or are they?

This past season (back to 2015), the Red Bulls won the Shield while obtaining 1.76 points per game (ppg).  Let's keep that as our constant in this analysis and see where that would land them in Ligue 1.  Ligue 1 plays a 38-game schedule compared to MLS' 34-game one.  In order to rightsize MLS to Ligue 1, we have to extrapolate 1.76 ppg into 38 games.  We come up with 67 points as our reference point.

Now we will compare 67 points and cross-reference that against the average of the last five Ligue 1 seasons (2011-12 through 2014-15).  How would the Red Bulls have done with that point total in France?

Season Red Bulls Finish Team 1 Spot Above Team 1 Spot Below
2010-2011 3rd Place Marseille (68 pts) Lyon (64 pts)
2011-2012 4th Place Lille (74 pts) Lyon (64 pts)
2012-2013 3rd Place (Tied) Lyon (3rd, 67 pts) Nice (64 pts)
2013-2014 5th Place St. Etienne (69 pts) Lyon (61 pts)
2014-2015 6th Place Marseille & St. Etienne (69 pts) Bordeaux (63 pts)

Over the past five years, it's been increasingly harder to perform in Ligue 1.  Good thing we really aren't a French club.  This would put the Red Bulls on the borderline of either directly qualifying for Europa League or giving them the opportunity to qualify for Champions League via the play-off round.  They still are not ready for Paris Saint-Germain or AS Monaco in recent years, but they could consider it to be a successful season.

In Ligue 1, the Red Bulls would be equivalent to Lyon or Marseille.

RBNY did draw Lyon (67.2 ppg over the last five seasons) on July 16, 2013, 2-2 in a club friendly match, so the comparison is fairly a strong one.

Next stop: Italy's Serie A