United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that he was not criticizing Major League Soccer after expressing concern that Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley had switched to the MLS from the top clubs in Europe.
After he made those comments, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that Klinsmann’s comments “were very, very detrimental to the league, to the sport of soccer in North America ... they are wrong,” Garber said.
Klinsmann said he was only trying to say that he wanted to see the United States’ best players compete in the best leagues overseas.
Earlier this year, Bradley moved from AS Roma to FC Toronto, and Dempsey left Tottenham Hotspur for the Seattle Sounders, prompting Klinsmann to suggest that both players could drop in form because they weren't facing pressures in America that they would in high-level European leagues.
"It’s great to see that we have debates and public discussions like this because that shows that more and more people care about soccer in this country," Klinsmann said to Reuters. "In Europe, in South America and in Mexico we’re all used to this. It’s part of people’s everyday lives -- to have debates about different opinions. It’s just starting now in the United States and I think it’s pretty cool."
Klinsmann also said that Major League Soccer has improved over the years and that Garber simply misunderstood what he was trying to say.
"I think some things were a little misread into my comments," Klinsmann said. "Our job on the coaching staff is to help the players understand the level they’re at and how to get to the level we want them to play at. That takes realistic conversations, not critical remarks."
- Scooby Axson