So…when the commissioner of a league announces an impromptu teleconference with the media you know something interesting is about to happen. When said commissioner is Don Garber and he just heard United States men’s national team manger diss his league and the U.S. players coming back from Europe to play in it…you know things are about to explode.
Klinsmann has never been one to hold back his opinion on what needs to happen for the USMNT to make a true impact on the international soccer state. On Monday, Klinsmann spoke candidly about his thoughts on MLS, and specifically USMNT stalwarts Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
“I made it clear with Clint’s move back and (Bradley’s) move back that it’s going to be very difficult for them to keep that same level that they experienced at the places where they were,” said Klinsmann. “It’s just reality. It’s just being honest.”
The commissioner got on the mic today to respond and it could’ve been straight out of a Paul Heyman WWE promo.
Garber came out guns blazing in responding to Klinsmann’s comments.
He started by saying that the partnership between US Soccer and MLS is, “probably the most successful partnership between any league and any federation in the world of football.”
The commissioner then directly responded to Klinsmann by saying, “Jurgen’s comments are very, very detrimental to the league. They are detrimental to the sport of soccer in America and everything that we are trying to do north of the border. And not only do I think they are detrimental, they are wrong.”
He goes on to display his disgust that Klinsmann criticized Michael Bradley publicly through the media and said that that was Klinsmann’s pattern, pointing to when he kept Landon Donovan off the World Cup roster.
Garber makes a point that Klinsmann’s comments will have a negative impact when it comes to signing players from overseas as well as keeping Americans, “I believe that it sends the wrong message to other young American players. I also think it’s going to send the wrong message to players we’re trying to sign from overseas.”
Yet, Garber insisted that he wanted to sit down and meet with Klinsmann to get him to “embrace the vision.”
He then states towards the end that, “I think (Klinsmann) needs to think very hard about how he manages himself publicly.” After 40 or so minutes, the conference call ended and we were all aghast.
Let’s get this straight, I love MLS. I have been an MLS fan for many years and love the progress the league has been on. At this point, they are the best they have ever been and a big component of that success is because of Don Garber.
Having said that, Garber needs to realize that MLS isn’t the best, most talented soccer league in the world. Klinsmann is correct, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley are missing out on a chance to play against the top talent in the world week in and week out on great European teams and instead decided to come back to MLS. The USMNT manager definitely has the right to reevaluate Bradley’s and Dempsey’s play when something like that happens.
Where I agree with Garber is that Europe isn’t the end all be all when it comes to the success of American soccer players. I am all for Americans like DeAndre Yedlin for example, leaving MLS and going to Europe to play for Tottenham. If he gets solid playing time, it will no doubt make him a way better player than if he played his entire career in MLS.
If the opposite happens and Yedlin ends up riding the bench all the time and hardly gets to play, then that’s where I feel that MLS is the better alternative.
As much as I love to see Americans getting better in Europe, they are much better off starting every week for an MLS team than being a bench warmer for a European team. The reason why Klinsmann is upset at Bradley is because Bradley was starting for a team who finished 2nd in Serie A and is currently in Champions League against teams like Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Yeah, playing Manchester City is much better competition than playing against Columbus.
Like I said on Twitter:
My take, US Soccer needs to realize there’s talent in MLS and MLS needs to realize that they aren’t a top Euro League. Both lack awareness.
— Phillip Bupp (@phillipbupp) October 15, 2014
The USMNT has some great talent in MLS and some of those players will likely stay in MLS. Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Nick Rimando and Omar Gonzalez come to mind as talented players who are likely going to be MLS lifers. As far as I know, Klinsmann hasn’t had anything bad to say about these players, so it seems as if he finds some merit in MLS.
There are some, like DeAndre Yedlin, who want to try Europe and see what they can do with being the small fish in the big pond. I identify with Yedlin more than the others because I am the kind of person who doesn’t want to have any regrets and think after the fact, what might’ve been. Like with Donovan, I wish guys like Besler don’t sit around after they have retired and wondered what could’ve happened if they tried it in Europe.
Whatever side of the fence you stand on when it comes to player development, both Don Garber and Jurgen Klinsmann need to realize that they both have fundamental differences in how they see the sport and how to develop it in America.
Personally, I didn’t agree with a lot of what Garber said but I at least understood where he came from and felt like he wouldn’t have been making this conference call if he wasn’t as passionate about soccer in the United States like all of us. However, there was one thing that he said today which infuriated me to no end.
“I believe that Jurgen should embrace the vision for the future of the sport. That, to me, is his job. For him to publicly state issues that he has with Major League Soccer, in my view, is not something that is going to allow him to effectively serve the role of not just coach, but as technical director. I do believe that we collectively need to ensure that everybody is aligned with the mutual goal that we have of growing the game and the league’s role in growing that game. In order to do that, we can’t try to denigrate or damage or disparage the very entity that will be the key driver of the sport in this country.”
One, you could switch “Jurgen” to “Don,” “Major League Soccer” to “US Soccer” and “coach/technical director” to “commissioner” and Klinsman could say this exact thing about Garber. Second, by saying that, he is denying the concept of new ideas to be brought into the MLS/US Soccer relationship.
Don Garber is a highly successful businessman so I’m not going to say that I know more about business than Don Garber because I don’t. What I do know is that a business cannot thrive if everyone within the business has the same experiences and the same ideas.
Jurgen Klinsmann is an “outsider” to US Soccer. Before Klinsmann came to the team in 2011, US Soccer had a very “Americanized” view of how soccer should be played, developed and run as a business.
Klinsmann came in and brought in ideas and views that no one in US Soccer ever experienced. He expressed a desire in bringing in American talent who may not have lived in the US but are citizens. One of his biggest desires was to institute academies and develop young soccer players that way instead of through the collegiate system.
He wanted to have friendlies against tough opponents in hostile places and devote constant fitness in order to push the players to be better than they thought they could be.
Having different ideas to achieve something isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s quite the contrary. You need people from all different backgrounds, experiences and ideas in order to achieve progress.
Klinsmann isn’t 100% correct in the same way that Garber isn’t 100% correct, but both of them, along with Sunil Gulati, need to talk it out and incorporate all views in the development of soccer in the United States instead playing everything out in the media.
By not doing that, all this progress we have seen when it comes to soccer in the United States all goes away and we’ll start over once again. And if that happens, it won’t matter who was right or who was wrong.