[GARBER vs. KLINSMANN]
In an astonishing display of anger, MLS commissioner Don Garber
lashed out at U.S. men's national
team coach Jurgen Klinsmann
for remarks suggesting
that the international careers of key national team players like Michael Bradley
and Clint Dempsey
were damaged because
they had returned to the league. Garber went to far as to say he was "shocked to see him publicly disparage Michael and Clint."
"To think that we are not aligned with our national team
coach is disappointing and personally infuriating, frustrating as hell," said Garber, who said he supported Klinsmann's contract extension last year in his role as a member of the U.S. Soccer board of
directors. "And frankly I don't think it is in line with the shared vision that this league has with the federation."
On its face, Klinsmann's comments weren't startling. Before the
USA-Honduras match in Florida, he told reporters that it was more difficult for players to maintain a high level of play in MLS than in Europe.
"I made it clear with Clint’s move
back and [Bradley’s] move back," the U.S. coach said on Monday, "that it’s going to be very difficult for them to keep that same level that they experienced at the places where they
Garber didn't see it that way.
"They're detrimental to the sport of soccer in America," he said, "and not only are they detrimental, I think that they're wrong."
Garber went further.
"I am just demanding," he said, "that he refrain from making comments that are critical of our players and damaging to our league."
there was a forum for Klinsmann to make his remarks to his players: in private.
“To say Dempsey and Bradley’s form have diminished, I don’t believe that’s
true,” he said. “If our technical director for our country is basically saying, ‘You come home to MLS, you’ll end up like Michael and Clint,' that sends the wrong message. If
he wants to talk to Michael, he should do so privately, but don’t use a global media platform to do that. I believe that is totally unacceptable.”
Garber was particularly
upset with Klinsmann's decision to leave Landon Donovan
off the 2014 U.S. World Cup team.
"I believe that Landon should have been in Brazil,” said Garber.
“His performance dictated it."
Garber said he had not spoken up about the Donovan situation before because he was receiving treatment for prostate cancer and was prevented from
"His treatment was inexcusable," he said of Donovan's exclusion. "I have concerns that his criticism, particularly of Michael, is following that same pattern.”
Garber noted he had a "very good" relationship with Klinsmann and talked with him before the Donovan farewell game in Connecticut.
"[Klinsmann] has done a great job with the
national team, " he said, "but he needs to think very, very hard about how he manages himself publicly, and how he should motivate players that are playing in our league.”
said he had written U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati
and Klinsmann expressing his concerns.