MLS chief fires back at Klinsmann over 'damaging' comments

Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:38pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber hit back strongly at U.S. national team coach Juergen Klinsmann for saying players switching to the league could be hampered by a drop in form.

While MLS has trumpeted the return of leading U.S. players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley as a sign of the league's rise, Klinsmann said this week that players returning from stints in Europe risked a drop in form.

"Juergen's comments are very, very detrimental to the league, to the sport of soccer in North America ... they are wrong," Garber said during a heated conference call specifically arranged so he could reply to Klinsmann's comments.

An animated Garber said Klinsmann's words, which were made on Monday, were "incredibly damaging and personally infuriating" and undermined the work that MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation were doing to develop the game.

"It sends the wrong message to other young American players that we collectively - the league and federation - want to have in Major League Soccer so that we can develop the game and the league," said Garber.

"Juergen needs to think very hard about how he manages himself publicly."

The MLS chief said he sent a "very strong letter" to U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and that MLS club owners had done the same independently.

As well as being head coach of the senior national team, Klinsmann is also technical director of U.S. Soccer, responsible for the overall development of players.   Continued...

Dec 3, 2013; New York, NY, USA; MLS commissioner Don Garber speaks about the state of the league at Google Offices. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports