A month ago, MLS commissioner Don Garber objected publicly to comments made by USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann that were deemed “detrimental” to the American soccer league. Klinsmann had said it would be “very difficult” for the likes of Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey to maintain their best form after the pair returned home to play in MLS following extended spells in Europe.
As it turns out, Garber isn’t the only one who took issue with the German’s comments. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle speaks with Seattle Sounders minority owner Adrian Hanauer, Philadelphia Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz, among others, and finds that there is growing frustration inside MLS over the advice Klinsmann and the U.S. Soccer Federation are giving to young American players: namely, to bypass the American league in order to hone their skills in stronger leagues abroad.
"We are investing millions of dollars in youth development," Hanauer says. "It's hard enough to compete with foreign teams who are trying to poach players in the U.S. and Canada. I'm certainly not happy if our federation and its representatives are in any way pushing our players to sign with a foreign club and bypassing our professional environment." He adds: "At some point, if [this continues], clearly I -- and I assume my MLS partners -- would need to reconsider our investment in youth development, which I don't think is ultimately good for U.S. soccer."
In a statement made to ESPN, Klinsmann responds by saying that he is not telling players where to play: "You have to look at every situation individually and help the player to determine what is best for himself," he said. "There are a lot of parts to the picture, things like the player's ability, what his support structure is like, his past experiences, and his mentality and goals. Some kids would benefit from the environment in Europe, while others are best suited to continue their growth in MLS. There's no one right answer that applies to all players and each player's circumstances changes over time."