Following the USMNT’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Honduras, manager Jurgen Klinsmann had some not-so-nice things to say about his star players returning to play in MLS. MLS Commissioner Don Garber was none too impressed with what Jurgen had to say.
When speaking about American captain Clint Dempsey and fellow star player Michael Bradley Klinsmann replied, “I made it clear with Clint’s move back and (Bradley’s) move back that it’s going to be very difficult for them to keep that same level that they experienced at the places where they were. It’s just reality, It’s just being honest.”
Klinsmann was also quick to put the blame on the MLS when questioned further about Michael Bradley’s recent dip in form (World Cup included) saying, “I think he’s faced with a very, very difficult year, making that decision to go from Roma, a Champions League team, to now Toronto, a team that it seems like they’re not even qualifying for the playoffs, it’s a huge disappointment. That comes along with, you adjust yourself to whatever environment you are in, so he had to adjust to the environment he’s with in Toronto, instead of maybe an environment that plays Champions League football.”
MLS commission Don Garber held his own press conference yesterday to address Klinsmann’s remarks and needless to say things got heated.
Here is just a sample of the quotes Garber was firing off to defend the MLS, “I feel very strongly having spent the last 24 hours thinking about this issue, discussing it with MLS team owners, members of our board, that Jurgen’s comments are very, very detrimental to the league, they’re detrimental to the sport of soccer in America and everything that we’re trying to do north of the border. And not only are they detrimental, I think they’re wrong. … Sending a negative message to any player, and obviously to MLS players, that signing to Major League Soccer is not going to be good for their career or good for their form, is incredibly detrimental to Major League Soccer.”
What makes the argument between these two key players in American soccer interesting is that both are essentially right. I don’t think anyone will argue that MLS is currently not as strong as teams playing in the UEFA Champions League. I also don’t think anyone can criticize the positive direction the league is going in and how a strong MLS will directly translate to a stronger national team.
From an Orlando City perspective, this does raise an interesting question. Most Orlando City fans are also USMNT supporters (except for the growing Brazilian fan contingent—we love you too!), so if a player like Jozy Altidore becomes available in the transfer market, what should the Orlando City/USMNT fan want? Should the fans say 1) “Bring him to Orlando City and watch him blast in goal after goal, USMNT player development isn’t our problem, winning titles is our goal!”, or 2) “Don’t pursue Altidore, let him grow in Europe and bring success to our national team and let us develop our own talent that can play at the international level, or better yet bring in a player that’s already at a higher level than Jozy!”?
Which side of the fence on this argument do you stand on? Let us know!