About The United States InterState Soccer League (USISSL)

Domestic soccer in the United States (at least in the era of Major League Soccer) is not structured the way I would like it to be. In my world, every one of the 50 states would have a league of at least two tiers, ideally of 18 clubs in each tier. Each state's league would be composed entirely of players from that state (although I'm willing to entertain the idea of a limited number of "foreign" players on each club, be they from other states or other nations). There would be intra-state promotion and relegation. There would be no intra-state playoffs to determine the state champion. Instead, the 1st division champion would be the club that was top of the table at the end of a season that saw each club play home-and-away against every other club in that division. And when I say "club" I mean an association football CLUB, not a franchise of a corporate oligopoly (e.g., NFL) or single entity (e.g., MLS).  However, each state's champion would enter a nation-wide champions league akin to the UEFA Champions League in its structure. The winner of that competition would be the national champion.

Of course, this could never happen for a host of reasons, including financial, legal, demographic, and even constitutional concerns. Even a lesser model in which each state fielded its own team made up of players from that state and played the other state teams in a league format is similarly impossible. But that doesn't mean I can't dream!

Here's where the statistical programming language R comes in. Using a database I assembled using data available on MLS's website, I have started the United States InterState Soccer League (USISSL) using R. A player shall be eligible for inclusion in the USISSL if he meets the following criteria:
  1. a hometown in the United States according to his MLS team's own "Roster" web page, and
  2. a cumulative MLS Fantasy points score on MLS's Fantasy website.
For each player with a US hometown (according to each MLS team's own website), I have included the player's name, hometown, home state, whether or not they are a goalkeeper, and current MLS team. Injury status does not affect a player's inclusion in the player pool for his state. That is too much work for me to track.

Each state's player pool consists of players who fulfill the above criteria AND whose hometown is in that state. A state cannot field a player whose hometown is in another state. However, to field a team in the USISSL, a state must have at least 1 goalkeeper and at least 6 field players in its player pool. This is because FIFA's Laws of the Game allow a team to play with as few as 7 players on the field. A player's status as goalkeeper or field player is determined by his position as listed on his team's "Roster" web page. I know I know, one of the field players could play in goal or one or more goalkeepers could play in the field as field players or a team could elect to play without a goalkeeper, but as USISSL scoring is based on MLS fantasy points for each player, I decided to keep it simple and not allow this kind of position switching or goalkeeper dropping.

So, each week, I will run my R code over my player database to determine which state can field a team of 1 goalkeeper and at least 6 field players, determine their cumulative MLS Fantasy points for the season to date, and produce that week's USISSL League Table. The players for each team might change each week, and as they come and go, they will take their cumulative MLS Fantasy points with them. In other words, each state's team reflects that state's top MLS performers over the course of the season to date rather than the sum of each week's top performing players. States that cannot field a full-strength team will struggle, but that is they way of the world. At least they can participate. I will track transactions over the course of the MLS season to add players from the database as necessary. Over the course of the season, some states might gain enough eligible players to field teams while others might increase the size of the teams they already have and move up the table. (At least for this season, losing too many players will not result in disqualification of the state team.)

And when the dust settles at the end of the MLS regular season (MLS playoffs will not be included in the scoring), the USISSL Champion will be crowned!

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