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BRIDGETOWN Barbados (Reuters) - Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said there is no personal rift with Juergen Klinsmann and that he plans to have a discussion with the national team coach about the best way to work together.
Garber reacted strongly last week to Klinsmann’s comments that players who returned from Europe to MLS might suffer a drop in form describing them as “damaging” and “detrimental” to the sport in the U.S.
"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," Garber told Reuters in an interview.
"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," he added.
"I have had a number of email exchanges with Juergen and I plan to talk to him. I consider him a very balanced, thoughtful guy and we will continue to work together to do everything we can in partnership with the federation to grow the sport," he added.
While Garber said that "water cooler talk" and "talk radio chatter" about the sport was good for the game he said he wanted to move his discussion with Klinsmann out of the public domain.
“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 Juergen 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,” he added.
"At times we are going to disagree and I would accept that and I am sure Juergen would say the same thing, but it is time for this to get out of the public domain and get into meetings where Juergen and his technical staff and our technical staff can sit down and figure out how can we get a plan together to make MLS better, bigger and stronger and how do we help our national team move up the rankings and ultimately at some point winning the World Cup," said Garber, speaking on the margins of the Soccerex Americas Forum.
As well as being national team coach, Klinsmann is also technical director of U.S Soccer and Garber said a close alliance between the league and the federation was vital to creating success.
“I believe that a strong league and strong federation is the formula that will drive overall success -- we have seen it in Germany, we have seen it in Spain and I think it is the formula that will drive success in the United States.”
Reporting By Simon Evans; editing by Toby Davis