Why The Hell Is MLS Commissioner Don Garber Pissed At USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann? We Explain Their Beef
MLS commissioner Don Garber held an impromptu phone conference with media members on Tuesday to lash out on U.S. Men's National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann for his comments on the American soccer league and to defend the greatest player to ever play for the national team, Landon Donovan.
Before we get to what Garber said, let's map everything out.
Klinsmann is not afraid of making bold comments/decisions. We learned this from the Landon Donovan saga that took place before the start of the 2014 World Cup. He made another bold move by calling up Miguel Ibarra from the Minnesota United of the NASL to the 21-man roster for friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras. Ibarra, 24, became the first player from the modern version of the NASL to be called up to the national squad. He made his debut last night against Honduras, entering the match in the 90th minute. If you're wondering why he's not in the MLS, according to the blog American Soccer Now, his college coach George Kuntz claims Ibarra is making “more than a lot of MLS players his age make.”
Here's some of Ibarra's best moments from the 2014 NASL season.
In reality, this move from Klinsmann showed that your path to the senior team doesn't matter, as long as you have the talent. This sort of takes away the importance of playing in the ever-growing MLS. During the October international break, he made some interesting comments backing promotion-relegation in America, which sounds like another jab to the structure of soccer in the U.S., which obviously didn't sit well with Garber.
“I'm a deep believer in promotion-relegation systems,” said Klinsmann. “It's not up to me saying there should be MLS, and there should be second division (that) is NASL, and there should be promotion-relegation. I just wish that we would have a system in place where all the young players and all the players in general know that there's the next higher level and there's a lower level (and think), 'If I play a bad season, then that lower level is waiting for me. If I play a very, very good season then there's the chance to go up and play at whatever you describe then as the highest level.'”
The night before the final October fixture against Honduras in Boca Raton (which ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw), Klinsmann criticized some of his top players – Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley – for returning to MLS instead of crafting their skills in Europe where they would have had a chance to compete in the Champions League or in the Europa League. The Soundcloud is courtesy of Chris Wittyngham (@1043Chris), who was there to cover the presser.
Bradley left Roma and signed a five to six-year contract that pays him somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.5 million per season. Not only is Roma competing in the Champions League, but also they’re only three points away from first place in Serie A through six games. Dempsey left Tottenham and a chance to showcase his talent in the Europa League again to become the highest-paying player in MLS history, earning $6.695 million per season. The average salary of an MLS player is slightly under $190,000. Before these monumental signings, MLS was often viewed as a league where former stars would go to end their careers. Garber is trying hard to remove that stigma from the league.
Now let’s get to Garber’s comments on Tuesday.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Here’s what he had to say about Donovan, who didn’t make the final World Cup roster over the summer:
"I believe that Landon should have been in Brazil, not because he earned it or deserved it, but because his performance dictated it," Garber said during a conference call with reporters. "And if anybody disagrees with that, and some of you might — clearly Jurgen does — then I believe that his treatment was inexcusable."
Garber may or may not be questioning the contract extension USSF president Sunil Gulati gave Klinsmann until the 2018 World Cup. I'll let you decide:
"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 as not just coach but as technical director," Garber said. "I am in no way saying what Sunil should be doing with Jurgen as it relates with his employment. That is between Sunil and Jurgen. I think he's done a great job with the national team. I think he needs to think very, very hard about how he manages himself publicly and how he deals with his view as to how he should motivate players that are playing in our league."
And here's what Garber thinks of Klinsmann's criticism of Bradley and Dempsey:
"Sending a negative message to any player and obviously to U.S. players that signing with Major League Soccer is not going to be good for their career or good to their form is incredibly detrimental to Major League Soccer. We have invested since our founding billions and billions of dollars in creating a foundation for this league and for the sport, growing a fan base, commercializing this sport, creating a dynamic where it's part of the sports culture in this country."
I get why Garber had to defend the league, but honestly, it’s refreshing to see someone raise questions about the structure of soccer in America. We’re all new to this and there’s no room for arrogance. You have to recognize the issues in order to correct them. Maybe the two should sit down and hug it out.
"I want Jurgen to embrace the vision, and I believe we all need to sit down and talk about his alignment with that vision."
Photo via Getty
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