Don Garber: Comments about Jurgen Klinsmann were not personal
MLS commissioner Don Garber told Reuters that the idea of him having a personal rift with U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is "absurd."
Last week, Klinsmann told reporters that he feels it's more difficult to maintain a high standard of play in MLS than it is in top European leagues. He said his main concern was about U.S. team members Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey recently returning to play in MLS from Europe.
Garber responded by calling Klinsmann's comments "damaging" and "detrimental" to MLS and said they are not something that is going to allow him to "effectively serve the role of not just coach, but as technical director."
"Somehow this turned into a personal Klinsmann versus Garber debate and I have seen some of those headlines, which I think are absurd and very unintended," said Garber.
"What I intended to do was support our league and our players and our clubs and to ensure that everybody associated with this sport was aligned with the vision that comes from our (U.S. Soccer) federation president that a strong league is a necessary component for national team success."
Garber said he considers Klinsmann an "very balanced, thoughtful guy" and has had email exchanges with him and plans to talk to him soon. While he thought it was good for the game that he and Klinsmann's comments were being discussed by fans and in the media, he wants to move the discussion out of the public eye.
"My remarks were never intended to be personal and I think they came out that way - those things happen. I will be a passionate supporter of the league and Jurgen will be very passionate about his ideas and neither of us should sway from that but it is time for it to leave the media space and get into meetings that we can have to start getting the game built from the bottom up," said Garber.
- Molly Geary