Don Garber Calls out Jurgen Klinsmann over “Detrimental” Comments


A new rivalry has emerged.  In one corner we have the commissioner of Major League Soccer, Don Garber, and in the other corner we have US Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.  It’s the battle of an American mindset against a European purist.

For me personally, the international break is not a time I look forward to on the soccer calendar.  But not only did we see some great European qualifiers over the past week, we have also been treated to what may turn out to be the most heated clash of them all, Jurgen Klinsmann vs Don Garber.

Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t shy away from sharing his opinion this past week and he shared a lot of it.  But there are two things which Jurgen discussed that have really sparked a debate in the recent days.

First, in the build up to Landon Donovan‘s final match for the USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann said he believed that Donovan could have done more with his career.  To follow it up, Klinsmann added that he was of the opinion that the play of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley has suffered since they returned to MLS.

Of course this did not thrill MLS Commissioner Don Garber, in fact, he was outright angry.  Garber took it as a far as to call Klinsmann’s comments “detrimental” to MLS.  But of course, Garber had to respond this way; he needs to defend his league and the product he’s selling.

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Garber could never go along with Klinsmann and agree that these players would be better off playing somewhere else.  But this is not a new mindset that is coming from Jurgen, he has been preaching the same sermon since he became the Manager of the USMNT; he believes that his players need to be playing in the best leagues in the world and the best are in Europe.

Klinsmann backed up his beliefs when he selected his squad for the World Cup and left off Landon Donovan in place of young developing players who make their bread over in Europe.

So we go back to the age old question, is it better for a player to play in Europe, even if he may not get as much playing time, or is it best for him to play in MLS and guarantee time with the first team?

The truth is that the best soccer is in Europe.  I don’t say this simply because I am partial to European soccer, I say this because it is a fact.  MLS is a great league, but if we were to make a list of the best leagues in the world, MLS would hover somewhere around the 8-12 range.

So should these young American’s try to make it over in Europe even if that means they may only make appearances on rare occasions?  Is the experience they would be getting on the training ground with some of the best players the world has to offer more valuable to their career’s than actual minutes in an MLS match?

This is not an easy question to answer and so I will give it my best shot: it depends.

The honest truth is that there is no one correct answer.  Every person is different.  Do I personally believe that Michael Bradley made his move back to MLS too early and that he could still contribute for a top notch club?  Yes I do.  But do I also believe that Jozy Altidore would become a better player if he came over to MLS and actually saw the pitch more than a few times a year?  Yes I believe that too.  There is no black and white in this conversation.  Each player is different and each player has to evaluate their career individually.

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  • Do I agree that Landon Donovan could have made more out of his career in Europe than he did playing in MLS?  Yes, I agree with that as well.  But at the end of the day, this is not my career nor my life.  And as much as Jurgen Klinsmann would like to believe it, it is not his life to live either.

    With the upcoming move of DeAndre Yedlin to Tottenham Hotspur, we will have the opportunity to see a great young American talent play over in England.  But will his experience be that of Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard or will it more closely resemble the experiences of Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea?  Again, there is no way of knowing.

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    Yes, Klinsmann is right that the best soccer in the world is in Europe; but that does not mean that Europe is the best place for every American player.

    The second area I wanted to address is the idea that Jurgen Klinsmann believes MLS should implement a promotion/relegation system.  I expressed my belief on this in an article I wrote back on October 9th.  I am a believer in the pro/rel system and I believe that MLS should adopt it.

    But I am also realistic about this.  I brought up in my article that instead of focusing on expansion, MLS should put their attention into growing lower divisions and allow teams to earn their way into MLS through promotion instead of expansion.  My thoughts on this have not changed.

    Now that I have stated where I stand on the issue, I need to clarify my opinion a little bit.  I do not believe MLS should adopt the pro/rel system this upcoming year.  MLS is still young and it has taken them 20 years to get to the point they are now.  MLS is healthier now than ever before, but it has taken a while to reach this point.  It may take another 20 years to get to a place where the lower divisions are standing on a similar level as MLS where they could be promoted and survive.

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  • I am a strong believer in the pro/rel system.  I think it would make MLS more exciting.  When it comes to this debate, I side with Klinsmann. But even though soccer in American is more popular than it has ever been before, it is no where near where it needs to be to support the pro/rel system.  And for this reason, I again argue that MLS should, even though it is not their obligation to do so, focus on growing and supporting the lower divisions.

    So in the battle of Klinsmann vs Garber, the winner is… well I don’t even know.  Yes soccer is better in Europe, but no that does not mean every player should hop on a plane and start playing across the Atlantic.  And yes, I believe MLS should adopt the pro/rel system, but no, they should not do it tomorrow and may not be ready to do it for years.

    So in the end, we have a draw, which is what I love about soccer.