Klinsmann says not criticizing MLS, welcomes 'debate'
By Erik Kirschbaum
NEWPORT BEACH Calif. (Reuters) - United States coach Juergen Klinsmann said on Thursday that he was not criticizing or disparaging Major League Soccer by expressing regret that key players Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley had switched to the MLS from two of Europe's top clubs.
Saying he welcomed a growing culture of impassioned debate over soccer issues in the United States such as the one that erupted this week over his comments, Klinsmann added the MLS had improved a lot in recent years and was clearly on the rise.
In an interview with Reuters near his adopted home, Klinsmann said he simply wanted to see the best American players compete in the pressure-packed atmosphere of the world’s best leagues in Europe to be ready for the challenges of the next World Cup in 2018.
“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 when asked about criticism from MLS Commissioner Don Garber about his views.
“In Europe, in South America and in Mexico we’re all used to this,” Klinsmann said. “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.”
The World Cup in Brazil, where Klinsmann led his team into the round of 16 with a victory over Ghana and a thrilling draw against Portugal, was a watershed moment for U.S. soccer, he said.
“The World Cup transferred a lot of energy to the game here. This creates a lot of different opinions and also some misunderstandings.
"I never meant to put anyone down in the MLS by saying we need the highest level possible for our players no matter where they play. It was just an attempt to explain that players need to always strive to the highest possible level.” Continued...