What if… Barcelona and Real Madrid moved to the MLS

Having conquered all there is to conquer in Europe, Real Madrid and Barcelona are looking for new battlegrounds. South America is too tradition based to allow a new team to barge in whilst Asia and Africa don’t have the global pull that Europe’s elite crave. That leaves North America, and the one league that doesn’t shy away from wealthy investors, the MLS. With a few well-placed cash packages, and some clever usage of the rules, Barcelona replaces New England Revolution, and Real Madrid replaces San Jose, including shipping all players and staff to the new setups. Despite the extensive financial restrictions in place, can the European giants take over North America in the same way they did Europe?

This is quite a simple one. Unfortunately I’ve been incredibly busy, and have only had remote access to my PC for the last two weeks so haven’t had much time to come up with a better experiment. So this weeks will be quite a simple test, sorry!  Hopefully it still provides a vaguely interesting read though, and I promise I have some more complicated things lined up for the future.

Essentially it’s dumping both Real Madrid and Barcelona in the MLS. I considered moving the entire teams, but without re-creating the league structure the whole thing breaks as the rules are very fragile. Instead I replaced every setting, player and staff member of the two teams I deemed replaceable, the Revolution and San Jose, obviously one from each East and West to keep things interesting. This does mean that the “real” Real Madrid and Barcelona still exist, so there’s the extra bonus of “What if… Real Madrid and Barcelona lost all their players”. I’m sure that’ll make some Atletico fans happy.

The early seasons will be busy, simply because there are so many little moving parts. It should smooth out a bit later on though, so hopefully you can keep on-board. Will the Spanish giants sink or swim? Will Messi and Ronaldo stay loyal to their employers? Time to find out…

 

2014

The first year is a stupidly busy one. As in, holiday a month at a time to keep on top of things busy. With both teams having around 50 players each, there’s some serious offloading to be doing. How about we break it down a little:

USA

Barcelona USA: League – Final, Cup – Fourth Round
Real Madrid USA: League – Winner, Cup – Final
Winners: League – Real Madrid USA, Cup – New York Red Bulls

Barcelona manage to keep Messi, Neymar, Rakitic, Pedro, Busquets, Pique, Alba, Mathieu and Iniesta on their roster, whilst everyone else gets offloaded. Kansas steal Sandro in the draft, Rafinha goes to LA Galaxy, but the biggest shock is Xavi getting drafted to Portland. Suarez (Man City), Mascherano (PSG), Bravo (Red Bull Brasil), ter Stegen (Spartak Moscow) and Alves (Palmeiras) all see their time at Barcelona come to an end, and head back out the US. Only one player goes the other way, with Brad Knighton joining the legendary ranks from Dallas. For whatever stupid reason, the supporters pressure Luis Enrique into leaving, apparently preferring Bruce Arena to lead them to glory. If that’s not the stupidest replacement ever, I’ll be surprised.

Real Madrid keep hold of fewer stars, with only Ronaldo, Modric, Benzema, Illarramendi, Arbeloa and James opting to stay. Only one of their “bigger names” gets redrafted, as Varane joins Sandro at Kansas. Bale (Arsenal… fuck sake), Ramos, Casillas (Krasnodar), Pepe (Man United), Coentrao (CSKA), Khedira (Real Madrid), Isco and Navas (Brentford… er ok?) all leave for brighter horizons. Only one player comes in, bizarrely from Barcelona, as youngster Adrian Ortola makes the unforgivable switch. Come May, he’s joined by Marc Bartra, whilst Ramos and Isco find themselves re-signed. I’m not sure why they didn’t just stay, but then I don’t fully understand the MLS so…

Both teams perform about as you’d expect, with enough stars to blitz their way through the league, leading to a final between the giants. Real Madrid carry on their stunning league form, where 77 points saw them win the Supporters Shield, and beat their rivals to the title. Messi easily takes player of the season, with 17 MOTM’s, 25 goals, 12 assists and an average of 8.51. As Opta Sports would say, stunning.

The standings from the first season. I don’t know why Barcelona didn’t dominate, they really should have…

Spain

The actual Catalans begin their rebuild by signing Ruben Pardo, Pablo Insua, Lucas Anderson, Natxo Monreal and Andrew Ayew. It’s not quite the all-star team they had before, and it shows with a slow start to the league

Over in Madrid, there are a few more slightly “star” signings, as Cristian Benteke takes a shot at the big time, alongside Murillo, Camarasa, Moisander and Figueiras. Khedira does re-join, so clearly you can’t keep him away from long. Completely unlike real life.

 

2015

USA

Barcelona USA: League – Semi-Final, Cup – Fourth Round
Real Madrid USA: League – Winner, Cup – Fourth Round
Winners: League – Real Madrid USA, Cup – Kansas

The facade is beginning to fall, and Barcelona are losing their stars. The Premier League comes in to raid, as Neymar (Chelsea), Busquets (Arsenal), Pique (Liverpool), Rakitic (Man United) and Messi (Man United) head for more competitive shores. The fees are low though, with the MLS clearly degrading players’ values. Messi and Rakitic go for a combined £18.2M, which is the bargain of the millenium. Iniesta also leaves to Roma, whilst NYCFC pluck Pedro and Mathieu in the new team draft. Bizarrely, they then give Pedro straight back in a trade. For absolutely nothing in return. The MLS confuses me more with every passing day. Song, Pedro, Alba and Deulofeu are the biggest names still left, and they can only scrape Barcelona into the playoff semi finals.

A similar plight strikes Real Madrid, as Carvajal (Arsenal), Modric (Man United), Marcelona (Juventus), James (Man City), Kroos (Liverpool), Isco (Juventus), Jese (Real Madrid) and Ronaldo (Man City) all depart. At least the Ronaldo/Messi matchup will come to head in the Manchester derby, so that’s a nice little fantasy. Albeit with Ronaldo at the wrong team. Again the fees are low, with Man City paying a measly £17.5M for Ronnie and James. Illarramendi gets drafted into NYCFC, and then makes the slightly odd choice to become an American national. I guess that’s one way to become a legend. Benzema, Casemiro and Cheryshev stick around, and are joined by Xavi who is poached for £180K and a few draft picks. Who’d have thought Xavi would ever be in a Madrid shirt (well actually a San Jose shirt).

In the league Real Madrid see much more success, as Ronaldo starts them off well before leaving, momentum which is carried through all the way to another title.

Real Madrid’s tranfers from the 2015 season. If only they all were this cheap normally…

Spain

Barcelona: League – 5th, Cup – 5th Round
Real Madrid:
League – 6th, Cup – 5th Round
Winners:
League – Atletico, Cup – Atletico

The European leagues have their first set of results, and it seems the rebuild isn’t enough for the gutted Spanish pair as neither qualifies for the Champions League for the first time since 1996. The spare slots, after the obvious Atletico domination go to Valencia, Sevilla and Espanyol. Barcelona get Luis Enrique back in as manager, so clearly him managing there is meant to be. Real Madrid continue the signing spree in order to improve, this time Clasie, Pratto and Vela are the big time signings at the Bernebeu. Not quite the same as Bale, that’s for sure.

Other

Outside the breaking worlds of Spain and America, Shakhtar make an incredible Champions League run and make it all the way to the final, only to get beaten out by Chelsea on penalties. See what happens when you remove the big teams? Exciting things happen.

 

2016

USA

Barcelona USA: League – Semi Final, Cup – Semi Final
Real Madrid USA: League – Wild Card, Cup – Fourth Round
Winners: League – Toronto, Cup – Portland

Without the killer instinct of their legends, Barcelona have settled into a “close but not quite close enough” routine, as they make two semi-finals. It’s made worse by losing more of the very few stars they have, as Alba (Liverpool), Denis Suarez (Sevilla), Tello (Porto) and Deulofeu (Valencia) all take that as their cue to leave. Only Pedro and Song remain, although they do get joined by the Mathieu, who NYCFC graciously give back. They also sign Roland Lamah, but I’m not sure that actually helps in any way.

Real Madrid go from top to barely scraping the playoffs, probably not helped by the fact they fail to sign a single player. Bartra finally works out that he’s been fooled, and signs for the “real” Real Madrid for a surprisingly large figure of £10.75M. Ramos also departs, to Man United, whilst Illarramendi isn’t even tempted by the lure of his new home country, and heads to West Ham. The previous titles do mean a shot at the North American Champions League, which sees them impressively run all the way to the final. Monterrey put them firmly back in their place with a 6-3 beating, and says not this time U.S.A.

Toronto show the newbies how it’s done, with Giovinco and Gilberto tearing into the MLS and easing the Canadians to a convincing title.

Wrong year, but here are Barcelona’s transfers from 2015. Again, all absolutely bargains.

Spain

Barcelona: League – 7th, Cup – Quarter Final
Real Madrid:
League – 4th, Cup – 5th Round
Winners:
League – Atletico, Cup – Valencia

Having not actually signed that many players so far, Barcelona get their chequebook out to bring in a whole host of players, including Besic, Bazoer, Bailly, Cartabia, Mallo, Pareji, Fernando, Bernat, Chicharito and Tachtsidis. Unfortunately even the uneducated know that that’s not exactly an inspiring choice of signings, and 7th is all they get from their spending.

Alongside the signing of Bartra, Real Madrid actually make a big name signing in an attempt to win the fans back, spending a huge £48M to grab Zivkovic from AC Milan. Whatever it did it worked, as they force themselves back into the Champions League.

Atletico cement their place as by far the best Spanish team, holding an 18 point margin over Sevilla and Valencia by the end of the season. Down in the Europa League, neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid do anything of note. In any normal season you’d expect them to dominate that tournament, but this is clearly no normal season.

Other

There is a minor surprise in Europe however, as Wolfsburg manage to take a Champions League title. Despite having almost every good player from Real Madrid and Barcelona divided between them, the English teams put up way less of a fight than you’d expect. Even in the league it hasn’t shaped things massively, with neither Messi nor Ronaldo winning a title since signing, and Arsenal finishing 10th despite having the best Welshman in existence.

Euro 2016 sees shocks all round. The final ends up being between Switzerland and Croatia, a pair you’d never guess even if you tried. Croatia are the victorious team, taking a comfortable 3-0 victory in the end. England fall to the eventual winners in the first knockout round, with Spain losing to Switzerland in the same fashion. Peru win the Copa America, I’ve not much to add other than the fact I find that pretty neat.

 

2017

USA

Barcelona USA: League – Semi Final, Cup – Quarter Final
Real Madrid USA: League – Final, Cup – Fourth Round
Winners: League – NYCFC, Cup – Columbus

Another star (if you can call him that) heads away from Barcelona, as even Udinese is more attractive than the MLS for Alex Song. Once again it’s by no means a bad season for the ex-Catalans, but it’s not what you’d call dominating by any stretch. And they’re still not buying anyone. Having qualified for the NACL, a disappointing exit at the group stages is all that’s managed, as Montreal get the best of them.

Having performed way below what I’d expect for probably the best striker in the league, Benzema leaves Real Madrid for Napoli, whilst Asensio heads to the sunny greyness of Reading, leaving Cheryshev to take the mantle of Real Madrid’s star player. They do actually spend some money though, bringing in Ruben Duarte from Espanyol for a cool £3.2M. This year grants yet another MLS cup final, this time resulting in a loss, but it’s the utter embarrassment in the group stages of the NACL at the hands of Saprissa that probably sticks in the mind the most.

Mexico showing the U.S. how to NACL properly.

Spain

Barcelona: League – 5th, Cup – Fifth round
Real Madrid:
League – 7th, Cup – Semi Final
Winners:
League – Atletico, Cup – Real Sociedad

Not much to say about Barcelona, as they offload Lucas Anderson and Mario in order to make space for Danilo and Mikel San Jose. It’s still not enough to re-join Europe’s elite though, so they’ll have to try again next season.

In the natural Real Madrid way, the spending continues, as the signings of Ruben Blanco, Ayoze Perez, Marcos Alonso, Janmaat, Douglas and Trigueros run up a bill of £77M. Money isn’t everything in football though, and this season goes down as an utter failure. Only 7th in the league, as well as falling in the semi-finals of both the Spanish Cup and the Europa League leaves Los Blancos empty handed. And that’s without mentioning the fact they finished behind Olympiakos in their Champions League group to get to the Europa League.

There’s no surprise in the Spanish title department, but a top four including Espanyol and Real Sociedad adds some flavour. Although flavour is perhaps not what the Spanish league needs right now, as even Atletico winning the Champions League cannot stop Spain slipping behind Italy and England in the League rankings. It seems without backup, Atletico are fighting a losing battle.

 

2018

USA

Barcelona USA: League – 20th, Cup – Fourth Round
Real Madrid USA: League – 13th, Cup – Third Round
Winners:
League – Toronto, Cup – Portland

Mathieu finally leaves on a free to Young Boys, and apparently he was the only thing keeping Barcelona together as his departure leads to a dead last finish. The captaincy is given a 20 year old regen, despite Pedro still being at the club, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies hand them a 3-0 beating in the cup. The wheels have fallen off the wagon for Barcelona and the world agrees, with the team now having the 14th best reputation in the league, and the 14th best average squad ability.

Maybe it’s the rivalry that keeps them both going, but Barcelona’s demise sees Real Madrid also finish out the playoffs. Xavi abandons ship on a free to Dinamo, whilst Ruben Duarte rates Burnley as a better team to play for. When you’re beaten by Burnley, you know you have a problem. They are also bested by a non-MLS team in the cup, this time Sacremento Republic. Despite all that, Real Madrid have the best squad in the league, and the best reputation by far. As in 8100 compared to a second place of 6800 (out of 10,000), a number which doesn’t seem to drop regardless of what performance.

Toronto take the title once again, with the pairing of Gilberto and Giovinco doing the business to keep the Canadians as easily the most consistent team. The North American Champions League also gets its first U.S. winner since 2000, as Portland take a stunning win. Surprisingly, Toronto and Portland are doing way better than the two ex-Spanish teams.

Spain

Barcelona: League – 3rd, Cup – Semi Final
Real Madrid:
League – 4th, Cup – Final
Winners:
League – Valencia, Cup – Atletico

Barcelona upgrade Bailly and Besic for Fischer, Iniguez and Rajkovic, whilst Real Madrid add Rafinha, Bellerin and Olinga to their collection. As is reflected in the results, both teams have fallen into a scrap with Valencia for 2nd, 3rd and 4th in both reputation and squad ability, with Atletico enjoying the top in both. It is however a much better season for both, with top 4 finishes in both league and cup indicating a rise back to the top may well be on the cards. Despite their superiority, Atletico’s reign is broken by Valencia, demoting Spain’s best team to 2nd.

Messi finally wins his first title with United.

Other

World Cup 2018 sees more international shocks. Firstly Spain fail to qualify altogether, managing to finish behind both France and Ireland in their qualifying group. Clearly the loss of their stars is hurting. On the other side of the scale, England somehow find themselves in the final, where the put old demons to bed and beat Italy on penalties. The world is very upside down.

I mean I’d understand if it was Italy or someone. But Ireland?

 

2019

USA

Barcelona USA: League – 12th, Cup – No Entry
Real Madrid USA: League – 15th, Cup – Fouth Round
Winners: League – Portland, Cup – Portland

No need to split the two USA teams up, because they can both be summarised by one statement: they suck. Both fail to qualify for the playoffs, and the cup performances are just as bad. They’ve fallen into just average MLS teams. Portland have cracked the domination thing alongside Toronto, and take a double. Barcelona show a minor glimpse of positivity to get to the NACL quarters, but then snuff out all hope by losing.

Spain

Barcelona: League – 3rd, Cup – Quarter Final
Real Madrid:
League – 5th, Cup – Fifth Round
Winners:
League – Atletico, Cup – Celta Vigo

Barcelona sign Benteke on a free (yes from Real Madrid), and add Hector Herrera to their team, but it’s not even close to being enough to challenge in Europe, as they lose out to West Ham and Benfica in the Champions League, and then fall to Copenhagen in the Europa knockouts. They do manage to finish 3rd, so earn another try at building their European reputation back up.

Real Madrid suffer a year of heavy defeats. First they fall 10-2 to Atletico in the Spanish cup, and then 6-1 to Juventus in the first knockout round of the Champions League, before rounding out the year with a lowly 5th place finish. With the defence clearly needing to be fixed they ship out Bartra to City and bring in Phil Jones from Tottenham for the exact same price tag of £37M, whilst also bringing in Porsan-Clemente. I’m not convinced either of those will have the desired effect.

Atletico take their title back, and do so with some style, winning by a 19 point margin over rivals Valencia. Espanyol meanwhile have gone from the lofty heights of the Champions League to relegation, a sharp return to reality.

A small sample of the types of signings Real Madrid are making. It’s not exactly inspiring.

Other

Man United win their second Champions League in a row, with Messi getting back to the dominance he’s used to, whilst Ronaldo finally get his first title with Man City.

On the international scene, U.S.A. have yet to win a Gold Cup since the experiment started, so clearly having two extra perfect academies does very little. Although saying that, the MLS team’s facilities are already ranked very high so two new teams isn’t exactly adding much.

 

2020

USA

Barcelona USA: League – 19th, Cup – Third Round
Real Madrid USA: League – 12th, Cup – Final
Winners: League – Toronto, Cup – Portland

Despite Barcelona signing a £2.4M regen, they still really suck. As in, probably worse than New England Revolution level of sucking. Real Madrid are slightly better but not exactly a bright spark. Cheryshev finally departs, leaving only Casemiro as a recognisable name left. Oh and Ancelotti. The two MLS titles were apparently enough to keep him in a job forever, so he remains by far the best coach in the league. I feel like maybe someone chained him to the furniture. Toronto and Portland are still doing what I was aiming for the Spanish pair to do.

Spain

Barcelona: League – 6th, Cup – Fifth Round
Real Madrid:
League – 7th, Cup – Semi Final
Winners:
League – Atletico, Cup – Malaga

The real pair do slightly better, although considering starting expectations maybe that’s not quite true. Barcelona finish bottom in a Champions League group of Juventus, Metalist and Copenhagen, a result which can only be described as fucking awful. The apparent solution is to sell Ayew and bring in Belfodil. Real Madrid are not much brighter, getting dumped out of the Europa League in the first knockout round by Lorient. For whatever reason they’re refusing to sign anyone good, despite having a reasonably strong reputation. Both finish outside the top 3 once again, so no Champions League for another year.

Atletico are still taking clear victories in the league, although this time Celta Vigo are the lead chasing team, having built up a little legacy after their cup win last time round. It’s also safe to say Atletico are carrying the Spanish coefficient by themselves, just about keeping up with France and Germany thanks to another Champions League title.

I’m going to say, at this point, Barcelona aren’t quite fixed yet…

Other

Arsenal win the Premier League title (ugh), which means the 5 teams that snapped up BarcaDrid talent have won a title at least once. Tottenham didn’t get anyone in the fire sale, so they don’t count.

I’m not really sure why but the killing of Real Madrid and Barcelona has really hurt Spain, despite me not touching the two clubs facility levels at all. They manage to qualify for the big tournament this time round, but once again are absolutely rubbish, and finish bottom of a group with Holland, Austria and Italy. Germany takes the overall title with an utter dismantling of Portugal in the final, running out 4-1 victors.

 

Well… what now?

Things have already plateaued, everyone of note has left the two new American teams, and as such they’re not exactly setting the world alight with their performances. The Spanish pair are slowly catching back up to Atletico but that alone isn’t enough to make me want to write a summary every year, so how about we kick off the customary speeding up slightly earlier than usual to see where this goes?

 

2021 to 2024

USA

Barcelona USA are still performing incredibly awfully, so despite Real Madrid USA reaching the playoffs 3 out of the 4 years, the ex-Catalans only manage it once. Real Madrid do manage to convert one of those into an MLS title, whilst Barcelona offer up a single measly US Cup in 2023. It should be noted that the 2022 US Cup final was between Sacramento Republic and Pittsburgh Riverhounds, meaning they both somehow came out on top of their entire MLS crew. Pedro gets traded to Orlando, which clearly doesn’t suit him as he retires after just 1 season. Both teams sign no-one interesting, or even slightly good.

Columbus become relatively strong alongside Portland, but it’s Real Salt Lake who become the next team to win a Champions League, deposing America in the final.

Oh and Ancelotti finally retires from managing Real Madrid USA after 9 years. You have to hand it to him, he stuck out the course. He gets replaced with Dominic Kinnear, who very quickly gets sacked. Brad Friedel ends 2024 as manager.

Spain

Atletico continue to take every single La Liga title on offer, but Real Real Madrid, and Real Barcelona start to make the top 3 on a more consistent basis. Real Madrid even take home two Spanish cups, which apparently requires them to beat Barcelona in the final to happen. Hojbjerg, Mustafi, Montoya and Cerri all head to the Bernabeu, whilst Barcelona, despite signing Oztunali, Bruma, Dybala and Busquets, regularly sell more than they buy.

I opened the door to Atletico dominance. Woops.

Other

All 4 Champions League trophies are shared equally between Arsenal and PSG, whilst all but one Golden Ball goes to Hazard. England + PSG are by far the dominant world forces at this time.

Some of the bigger names in football start retiring, albeit not necessarily in normal ways. Rooney sees out his days at Bolton, Bale spends a couple of years at Burnley, Di Maria heads to Celtic, whilst Pepe has stints at Wigan, Latina and Ascoli. Way to end your careers on a high guys.

USA are still seeing no improvement on the world stage, watching Jamaica take both Gold Cup titles, and going out at the Group Stages of World Cup 2022. Australia somehow beat Italy and Portugal to ride all the way to the final, but just get pipped by Belgium 2-1. Yes, I do mean Australia and not Austria.

 

2025 to 2029

USA

Real Madrid USA maintain their strong form, finishing in the top 3 in 4 out of the 5 seasons, as well as taking both cups in 2028. Columbus are the only team to really consistently outpace them. Barcelona start to suck slightly less, maintaining top 10 finishes in every season, including losing to Real Madrid in the 2028 MLS Cup final, and taking their own title in 2025 after just scraping into the wild card round. Neither team is spending money, or looks like starting, so I’m just going to stop mentioning it anymore. I don’t even know what they’re doing with their cash; both teams have a balance of about a billion.

Spain

The La Liga giants are back, and it’s Real Madrid that break first blood, taking the title in 2025. Interestingly all 5 titles in this time go to different teams, with Malaga, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico also taking one each. At this point it’s safe that Barcelona and Real Madrid are back on par with Atletico and Valencia. Barcelona have also finally found their chequebook, spending upwards of £60M in almost every season, including recruiting a youngster called Zidane (he turned out to be a bit shit though).

Other

West Ham manage to break the dominance of the big 5 and secure a couple of good performances, followed by a title win. Well done London FC.

In this edition of odd retirements, Reus spends his last year at Munchen Lions, James also goes to Celtic, and Icardi gets his retirement funded at Guangzhou.

Spain takes the World title this time, beating Germany to confirm they are back to fighting form. U.S.A. does finally add another Gold Cup to their collection, beating Mexico to restore the natural order of things.

Every golden ball winner from game start. Not even playing in England can keep Messi and Ronaldo down.

 

2030 to 2034

USA

Real Madrid USA are still racking up the top 3 finishes, and have probably become the MLS’ best team. They convert their form into doubles in both the MLS cup and the US Cup, so maybe this is as close to domination as we’re going to get? Barcelona USA meanwhile remember their tradition, and go back to being terrible. Real Madrid USA do decide to splash a little bit of cash, and built themselves a 96,000 seater stadium in the more US friendly location of LA. Originally, they call in the R. Madrid USA stadium, that’s what happens when your team has no soul kids.

U.S.A. isn’t really figuring in the NACL at this point, so the leagues quality clearly hasn’t risen. However America (the Mexican one) certainly are there, and take 7 of the last 9 titles. Maybe I changed the wrong numbers in the editor.

At least one America is doing well in the NACL.

Spain

Spanish Real Madrid hit a bit of a lull, maybe neither can live whilst the other survives. Whilst the rest of the Spanish elite share titles between them, Los Blancos barely keep themselves in it, falling out of the Champions League qualification a couple of times. Even massive spending doesn’t fix the dip in form.

Other

Having been on the slide for a while, Tottenham finally sink and get relegated from the Premier League. I linger on restarting the whole thing for a moment, before realising I’m far too lazy to do that.

Sterling quits the game having set the record for both club and country appearances, 666 and 176 respectively. Eriksen heads home for a small stint at Copenhagen, Shaw holidays at Catania for a year, and Koke spends two years at Reading without making a single appearance before deciding to actually retire.

Simeone also retires as Atletico manager, having won them a huge 38 titles in his time there. I think it’s safe to say he’s their greatest ever manager.

The first World Cup in 2030 sees an odd if not vaguely understandable final, with Belgium beating Turkey 3-2. I’m less convinced about the 2034 edition though, as Colombia beat Australia in the semi-final, before both teams win their respective “finals” 2-1, over Holland and Brazil respectively. The idea of Australia beating Brazil is all wrong, let alone in a third place playoff…

 

2035 to 2039

USA

Maybe they’re spending too much time with their Spanish American rivals, because Real Madrid USA’s form starts to drop. They still make consistent playoffs, but not in the dominant top 3 style as before, and their only MLS cup comes at the start of the era. Barcelona USA manage a high of 11th in the five seasons. DC United have taken over as “the” team, taking 3 Supporters Shields, although they convert a grand total of zero into MLS Cups.

Real Madrid do lose their legendary manager in Greg Vanney. Having taken over from a sacked Friedel in 2026, Vanney took Los Blancos to 4 league wins in 11 years, but retires in 2037. The fickle management then sacks every following manager after just a year.

Spain

Things are still very much competitive, but the recent dominators in Atletico have fallen of the pace a little. They manage a single top 3 finish, whilst Real Madrid move back up to scrap it out with the other 2 for titles. Barcelona do win themselves a Champions League title, a rather solitary one for the Spanish league, so it’s definitely all stations normal.

Other

A few last names to retire before you’ll have no idea who I’m on about: Odegaard spends a single glory year at Barcelona before quitting, whilst Scuffet manages to go his entire career at Udinese. France’s new top goal scorer, Audren also leaves the game, having scored 126 goals in 162 caps.

England suffer the mental anguish of just missing out on a World Cup, losing 3-2 to Spain in the final.

 

2040 to 2044

USA

Having been dreadful Barcelona USA make a slow climb back up, even achieving a 3rd place finish in 2043. They then customarily finish 18th in 2044. Real Madrid USA develop the consistency of a yo-yo, seemingly unable to be bad or good for two years in a row. No silverware for either means it’s a particularly dry spell though. Houston shows them how it’s done by taking a triple of MLS Cup titles in a row. Barcelona USA do take note of their rivals new stadium and decide to 1-down them, by building a tiny 43,000 stadium in New York. Again, they opt for the “Barcelona USA Stadium”, as apparently the only club legend Emanoel is not important enough to get a stadium name.

Spain

Real Madrid start to come back much stronger, taking the first two titles, before finishing behind Valencia in 2nd for the next three. Towards the end they do lose long term manager Antonio Candreva to Chelsea, having won them 3 titles in 10 years. Barcelona are left somewhat chasing down in 3rd place for the entire period.

Other

Over in Portugal (didn’t expect some news from there did you), Porto win their first title since 2013. Yup since I started this game, Porto haven’t won the title once until now. I didn’t even think that was possible.

England’s record goal scorer, with a surname you wouldn’t be used to added the description “legendary” too, retires. Le Fondre managed an impressive 112 goals in 156 appearances, and wasn’t far short of breaking Sterling’s cap record.

Despite losing their top scorer, England still make it all the way to the final of the World Cup, setting them in a matchup against Italy. This time they do come out on top, with a comfortable 3-1 win. If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the U.S at all, it’s because they’ve done nothing of note. They make it to the knockouts for only the second time since the experiment started, but get shut out by Greece. They do claim their 2nd Gold Cup in 16 attempts, so that’s something… right?

Brett Le Fondre in all his glory. His ability has declined a little, but the stats are there to admire.

 

2045 to 2050

USA

Real Madrid trade over the yo-yo title to Barcelona, who alternate between finishing in and out of the playoffs every year. The best result they convert this into is a defeat to Colorado in the final. San Madrid come off much better, with a string of top 5 finishes they manage to turn into 1 MLS Cup. Barcelona do somehow win two US Cup titles in a row, probably the biggest amount of success this team has seen.

New York Red Bulls rotate into being the newest top team, winning 3 supporters shields, 1 MLS Cup, 1 US Cup AND 1 NACL in 5 years. Maybe it’ll be Barcelona’s turn eventually.

The form of Real Madrid USA. If you’re wondering what happens when you sack your manager every year, that’s it.

Spain

Sevilla add themselves to the battle at the top, taking a couple of top 3 finishes and a title. Outside of that it’s still the same battle as before, although with Real Madrid demonstrating a fantastic ability to finish second.

Other

Aston Villa deploy a stealth tactic, and proceed to win the Premier League despite having been particularly average for every season previously.

Southampton meanwhile have never finished higher than 3rd in the league. Despite that, they claim a historic Champions League win in 2049, beating Bayern in the final. Who needs the league anyway.

Over in the World Cup, things get back to realism after Englands win, with the current world champions failing to even qualify. The final instead is fought between France and Argentina, with Argentina running out 3-1 winners. A single tear rolls down Messi’s cheek.

In the final Gold Cup of this test, U.S.A. take the chance to grab themselves one last trophy with a victory over Costa Rica. Personally though, the biggest surprise is Guadeloupe coming third. They’re not even a FIFA ranked nation.

A minor note: having joined Shakhtar as manager in 2019, Karadeniz finally retires in 2045. I only mention this as he completely breaks the medal table, having claimed every Ukranian League, Cup and Super Cup in his time there. That’s 77 trophies, but I suppose that happens when the league isn’t loaded.

 

The result?

Well in terms of actually changing the world permanently, or even in a way that’s significant, I think this one is an absolute failure. The combination of rules and league reputation means that even that starts as far superior can’t build a legacy in the MLS. Whether that’s a good thing is up for debate, but I guess it keeps things interesting.

As for Spain, it went about as I expected. A minor dip which allows Atletico to take everything, whilst eventually the big two get back to their usual ways. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was how average the signings were to start with, and how all the major players flocked to the Premier League. They may be different on later versions with England knocked down a peg or two, but in 2015 they’re certainly the strongest force.

 

The state of the world

England

The early scrappy years make way for Man City dominance, with 12 of the 14 titles from 2021 onwards heading to the Etihad. Their Manchester neighbours take over for a little, and probably become the stronger team from the mid 30’s, with City chasing close behind. Chelsea are there or there abouts pretty much every season, but only take 2 titles the entire time. And we’ll not talk about Tottenham…

Germany

As can be expected, Bayern win the most titles, although it’s not as simple as it sometimes is. Dortmund and Wolfsburg put up a fight through, with Wolfsburg taking 6 titles in a row in the late 30’s. By the late 40’s Dortmund have fallen apart, and spend a year in the 2. Bundesliga to lick their wounds.

Italy

I’ll confess I actually forgot to load Italy, so this might not have been as competitive as I’d have hoped. Juventus claim the biggest haul of trophies by far, with a little smattering of AC Milan throughout, and a competitive period for Inter Milan from 2035 to 2045.

France

Perhaps the only surprising thing is France is how few titles PSG dropped. 3 is the number, 2 to Lille and 1 to Marseille. Only 3 titles from the whole time not won. Lyon and Lille put up something resembling competition, but it’s really not much more than throwing a wet sponge.

Portugal

I’ve run a lot of tests, and I’ve never come across a situation where Porto have been so trophy-less. One single solitary title in 2041, in fact Maritimo win as many titles as they do. To make it even worse, they very consistently make the top 3. Just without winning ever. Benfica win the most titles, but are preventing from getting into any rhythm by Braga and Sporting.

Mexico

I added Mexico with the idea of keeping the NACL competitive. It didn’t work. Club America proceeded to take 15 titles, whilst even Universidad de Guadalajara won 5, more than the entirety of the U.S.A. The league was slightly more mixed, with more winners than I can list, but once again it was America and U. de G

Europe

Arsenal and PSG dominate the Champions League in the twenties. Man United take 3 titles in the 30’s, and Napoli do the same in the 40’s. Southampton are probably the oddest winner, but as usual there’s no real pattern. In the Europa League Mainz take a really early title in 2019, but it’s Q.P.R. winning two trophies in 2037 and 2042 that really takes the cake.

International

Despite Australia breaking the World Cup several times, they don’t actually dominate the Asian Cup, winning just two trophies.  Morocco emulate Egypt to take a triple of AFCON titles in the 40’s, whilst every Copa America, apart from the 2016 edition, goes to either Argentina or Brazil.

I wasn’t lying about Australia, they really did perform miracles.

Players

Last time there was a request to see some of the regens that come up throughout the came. So I present to you, 30 of the best players throughout this save: Imgur Album

There are 3 real players in there: Pogba, Tielemans and Odegaard, but they become three of the best in the world so had to be included. Credits go to players like Odegaard and Mihajlovic who stay at Southampton and Swansea throughout, despite winning absolutely nothing for it. PSG hoard a huge number of very talented players, and at the end of the save have the two best strikers in the world in the form of Jabardo and Camara. It’s almost unfair.

 

Final thoughts

I’m afraid this one has no extra crazy test. I considered a few things, but I couldn’t come up with something that would be even slightly unpredictable. More teams in the MLS would see the same happen, and removing the rules of the league would cause the two to dominate easily. Also I have almost no time with which to do more tests, which is probably the biggest factor.

So I hope this was interesting in some way. As with all my works I feel like it’s a bit all over the place and badly organised, but I hope that doesn’t come across as so when read. This one feels especially bad, what with my work situation and the hectic last two weeks. WordPress is listing this article’s readability as “the lowest”, so that’s always a good sign.

Feedback, comments, suggestions, scathing criticism, all are welcome as usual. I’ve received some great comments in the past, both constructive and positive, so keep them coming.

Thanks for reading, see you next time. Or not, whatever takes your fancy.

 

Fancy carrying on from where this ended? Go to this link to download the save: Here

One thought on “What if… Barcelona and Real Madrid moved to the MLS

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