The Garber-Klinsmann battle

The Garber-Klinsmann battle

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 16, 2014

Yesterday was certainly a wild ride for those covering Major League Soccer. Almost out of no where in the middle of the afternoon a media alert lands in my inbox telling me of a press conference being called for only a couple hours later with Commissioner Don Garber. The call was purely about him discussing the comments made recently by Jurgen Klinsmann regarding the status of the league.

I’ve never heard Garber so frustrated or annoyed about any particular comment/idea/concept/etc before. But man, on first listen it felt like Garber woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday and wanted the entire world to know it.

“To think that we are not aligned with our national team coach is disappointing and personally infuriating and frustrating as hell,” Garber said. “Frankly I don’t think it is in line with the shared vision that this league has with the [U.S.] federation.”

Garber also offered up some strong thoughts as to what he thinks Klinsmann should do from now on too.

“I am demanding that [Klinsmann] refrain from making comments which are critical of our players and damaging to our league.”

Alright then. Demanding huh?

What really seems to have broke the camels back for Garber was Klinsmann’s insinuation that both Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey have regressed since leaving Europe for MLS.

In a way it was tough to really align with Garber following the call. Hearing a person demand that another person refrain from making comments that are critical seemed a bit much but it was something that Garber was certainly entitled to do. He did mention how some of the MLS Board of Governors have sent letters to the US Soccer Federation recently as well.

This comes down to difference in opinion. It is as simple as that. Neither opinion are terribly wrong one way or the other too. Though in a way I do tend to side more on the league’s point of view for players. You can’t tell me that sitting day after day on a bench in Italy is better than starting every week in Toronto. Sure the training in Europe is a little more intense and to be able to play in the Champions League is one thing but the number of American players actually going overseas and succeeding is really a slim margin. The entire concept behind MLS was to improve the national team, which it certainly is doing these days.

What Klinsmann did get wrong is the fact that he is attacking the future of the game through MLS. Basically he is closing the door for plenty of young, talented players that may do well in MLS but instead in his comments he is telling these young players that they need to be in Europe. In one way or the other he is saying that if you play in MLS, you won’t see a lot of time with him and the national team. The funny thing about all this is, he has actually helped push players like Jermaine Jones to MLS.

Again, neither guy is terribly wrong altogether but the disconnect between the league and the national team is one gap, however big or small that needs to close sooner rather than later.

  • Project 2010

    Starting in Toronto is better than sitting on the bench at Roma, but why does it have to be all or nothing? There are plenty of other clubs in the top leagues. You can’t tell me that starting in Toronto is better than starting at Chievo, Fulham, or Nantes.

    I think that both of these guys are just looking out for their own interests, which is completely understandable. Klinsi is a bit harsh at times, but he’s just answering reporters’ questions. He’s not holding a press conference to bash MLS. Garber’s job is to defend the league, but I think it’s ridiculous for him to say that it’s the USMNT coach’s job to be a cheerleader for MLS.

  • Frank

    “The entire concept behind MLS was to improve the national team, which it certainly is doing these days.”

    I’m not disputing this because I don’t know, but is this really true? It sounds implausible.

    • Drew Epperley

      It took some time but I would argue the national team is far better off right now today than it was back in 1998 because of the growth within MLS.

      • Frank

        I agree. I’m asking about the “entire concept behind MLS was to improve the national team” part.

        • Drew Epperley

          Yes, that was one of the many goals of the league when it was getting started. Some would say it was the main goal of the league as a whole.

          • Frank

            Interesting, thanks for replying.