Since becoming head coach of the US Men’s National Team, Jurgen Klinsmann has not shied away from controversy. Whether it was leaving America’s soccer hero Landon Donovan off the roster or being critical of the MLS league, Jurgen speaks his mind when asked. Klinsmann has spoken out on a variety of topics in regards to the MLS. Whether it is what league American players should play in or the current structure of the MLS, Klinsmann has offered his opinion. An opinion which has at times angered many American soccer fans. Here are some of the highlights of Klinsmann’s volatile relationship with the MLS.
1. Jurgen Was Critical of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley
Clint Dempsey coming back to the MLS from Europe was perhaps one of the biggest signings in league history. However, that has not stopped Klinsmann from voicing his concern over the move. It was reinforced after Michael Bradley returned to the MLS by signing with Toronto FC. Yahoo Sports quoted Klinsmann as saying:
There’s nothing I can do about it. I made it clear with Clint’s move back and Michael’s move back that it’s going to be very difficult to keep the same level that they experienced at the places where they were. It’s just reality. It’s just being honest.”
2. Klinsmann Supports a Relegation System for the MLS
Fans of the English Premier League as well as European soccer are familiar with the relegation system. Each league has tiers and each season teams are sent up or down to different league levels depending on performance. The MLS has no such system which allows a team to finish in last place during one season and not be penalized the next. According to ESPN, Jurgen would like to see this changed:
This thrill of the relegation battle is non-existent in the U.S. league. The risk for club investors to all of a sudden play in the second league would be too high. But the sporting side would benefit from it. Our players from Europe know that. That furthers our national team. Something is at stake week in, week out. Be it at the top or at the bottom, you always have to perform.”
3. MLS Commissioner Don Garber Has Been Critical of Klinsmann
As can be expected, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has responded to Jurgen Klinsmann’s public critiques of the league. Garber points out that the context of the player’s decision is important. For many American players, it is better to play in the MLS than be part of a European club where they do not see the field. DeAndre Yedlin finds himself in this situation with Tottenham in the English Premier League. Don Garber recently told ESPN the following in regards to which league American players should play in:
I just don’t accept that a guy who’s not playing full time and is sitting on the bench and struggling to make the first team is going to become a better player than being the star of an MLS [team] and having to read about himself in the Toronto Sun and having his owner and his coach beating him up every day because he’s got to deliver.”
4. The US Gold Cup Roster Has 12 MLS Players
Despite his criticism of the MLS, it has not prevented Klinsmann from selecting MLS players to national teams. Nearly half of this summer’s Gold Cup roster is made up of players from the MLS. This number has been raised with players like Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley recently coming back to play in the MLS. The 2014 World Cup featured great performances from MLS players.
5. Klinsmann Wants American Players to Compete at the Highest Level
While Klinsmann’s critique of the MLS over the past few years has covered a wide range of topics, ultimately the core of his argument has been the same. He wants American players to be able to compete at the highest level. As a star for both the German national team and professional league, Klinsmann knows what this looks like. He believes in order for the national team to be strengthened, its players must be competing in the top professional leagues in places like England and Germany.