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MLS Commissioner Don Garber Responds to Jurgen Klinsmann's Comments About League

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2014

Sep 18, 2014; New York, NY, USA;  MLS commissioner Don Garber addresses the media during a MLS new logo announcement held at Skylight Modern. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann did not pull punches when criticizing the quality of Major League Soccer following the return of national team stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. In response, MLS commissioner Don Garber offered pointed comments of his own directed at the USMNT boss, calling Klinsmann's remarks "detrimental" to the sport in the United States.   

Soccer reporter Jonathan Tannenwald provided Garber's response from a Wednesday conference call:

Jonathan Tannenwald @thegoalkeeper

“Jurgen’s comments are very, very detrimental to the league. They are detrimental to the sport of soccer in America"

Jonathan Tannenwald @thegoalkeeper

" and everything that we are trying to do north of the border. And not only do I think they are detrimental, they are wrong."

Klinsmann, in his fourth year as the head of United States soccer, made his critical comments Monday before Team USA's 1-1 draw in a friendly against Honduras. Asked about the recent high-profile transfers of Dempsey to the Seattle Sounders and Bradley to Toronto FC, Klinsmann said his stars will struggle to keep the same form while playing in an inferior league.

“Concerned? I mean, there’s nothing I can do about it," Klinsmann said, per Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel. "I made it clear, I made it clear with Clint’s move back and his move back that it’s going to very difficult for them to keep the same level that they experienced at the places where they were. It’s just reality, it’s just being honest."

CHESTER, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Forward Clint Dempsey #2 of the Seattle Sounders FC trips over defender Carlos Valdes #2 of the Philadelphia Union during the 2014 U.S. Open Cup Final at PPL Park on September 16, 2014 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew H
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Dempsey played for Fulham F.C. and Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League from 2007 to 2013. He transferred to Seattle in August 2013, though he returned to Fulham on loan for a stretch midway through the 2013-14 season.

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Bradley bounced around European leagues after leaving the MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) in 2005. He most recently spent a spell with A.S. Roma of Serie A in Italy from 2012 to 2014, returning to MLS on a $10 million transfer to Toronto. The move was seen as an attempt to help boost the popularity of the league throughout Canada.

Klinsmann indicated that Bradley's move was a marked step back, with Roma competing in Champions League and Toronto struggling to make the MLS playoffs. 

EAST HARTFORD, CT - OCTOBER 10: Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States looks on against Ecuador during an international friendly at Rentschler Field on October 10, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

"That comes along with, you adjust yourself to whatever environment you are in," Klinsmann said, "so he had to adjust to the environment he’s with in Toronto, instead of maybe an environment that plays Champions League football. So he’s going through that experience now, and still coming in now the first time since the World Cup he has to prove that he hasn’t lost a bit."

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

Don Garber's comments are hard hitting and this is a major story to have a league commissioner and NT coach be at such odds.

Garber, whose frustration and anger was obvious throughout the press conference, called Klinsmann's comments "frustrating as hell", claiming it's untrue that a player's form would be affected playing in MLS, per Tannenwald. The MLS boss also "demanded" that Klinsmann not make any more disparaging remarks about his league, per Jeff Carlisle of ESPN:

Jeff Carlisle @JeffreyCarlisle

Garber: "I am just demanding that he refrain from making comments that are critical of our players and damaging to our league."

Andrew Das of the New York Times provided further comment from Garber:

Andrew Das @AndrewDasNYT

Garber: “I think (Klinsmann) needs to think very hard about how he manages himself publicly.”

B/R's Dan Levy believes Klinsmann's actions are making the US team less...American: 

Dan Levy @DanLevyThinks

Before @thesoccerdon replied to @J_Klinsmann, I wrote about the face of US Soccer, and how it’s decidedly un-American http://t.co/4OrxRSXlUn

This is far from the first time Klinsmann's comments and actions have drawn the ire of fans or those within the United States soccer community. The German's decision to leave Landon Donovan off the U.S. World Cup team this summer at times overshadowed what was happening on the field. Donovan and Klinsmann have a testy relationship dating back to their days at Bayern Munich, and it has bubbled over in recent months as many sided with the most accomplished player in U.S. history.

“I believe that Landon should have been in Brazil,” Garber said, per Toby Moses of The Guardian. “Because his performance dictated it...His treatment was inexcusable.” 

Donovan and Klinsmann temporarily mended fences for Friday's friendly against Ecuador, expected to be the 32-year-old's final cap with the national team. With Garber and Klinsmann entrenched in their respective positions, it'll be interesting to see whether a similar result can be achieved.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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