Why public spat between Don Garber, Jurgen Klinsmann is good for soccer in USA


When you first heard or read Don Garber’s riposte to Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday, admit it, you were a little bit gobsmacked.

It’s okay, most people were.

In the hours which have passed since, everyone is still picking up the pieces from one of the biggest damnation’s in U.S. soccer history.

[RELATED: Garber slams Klinsmann’s comments]

Within moments “Garber” was trending on Twitter as the Commissioner of Major League Soccer questioned the head coach of the U.S. national team and came out all guns blazing to defend the league he has helped nurture and flourish over the past 15 years.

In case you missed what started all this, during the USA’s recent international break Klinsmann called out Clint Dempsey Michael Bradley publicly and insisted his players back in MLS “must do better.” Klinsmann suggested that promotion and relegation could be a good move forward for the U.S. soccer pyramid and claimed that the current level of play in MLS was holding some of his players back.

Garber issued a conference call, then issued the following damning comments about the head coach of the USMNT:

  • “Jurgen’s comments are very, very detrimental to our league. They’re detrimental to the sport of soccer in America and everything we’re trying do north of the border. And not only are they detrimental, I think they’re wrong.”

  • “Sending a negative message to any player that signing with Major League Soccer is not going to be good for their career or good for their form, is incredibly detrimental to Major League Soccer. When we have a national team coach who in essence is telling players when they sign with our league that it is not going to be good for their career – and not going to be perceived well by the national team coach who is selecting the US national team – that is incredibly damaging to our league.”

  • “[Klinsmann] has done a great job with the national team, but he needs to think very, very hard about how he manages himself publicly, and how he should motivate players that are playing in our league.”

In retrospect, perhaps Garber airing the dirty laundry of MLS and U.S. soccer out in public (including how the treatment of Landon Donovan was “inexcusable” by Klinsmann) wasn’t the best idea. It certainly didn’t show either figure in their best light. However, some good may come out of this.

[RELATED: Klinsmann says Bradley has to prove his MLS move wasn’t a step back]

Both Garber and Klinsmann are incredibly influential men for the future of soccer in the United States of America. I believe both have the same goal: to improve the stature of the game in the USA, both globally and domestically.

Here comes the kicker: Garber wants to do it through MLS, Klinsmann wants to do it through the USMNT. What this public falling out may do is help galvanize U.S. soccer and MLS and force them to work together closer than ever before to solve this differences.

Klinsmann publicly hit out at Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey after their moves back to MLS.

Many may think Garber’s comments were rash, too strong or slightly strange, but he is making it public knowledge that we are at a pretty pivotal point in MLS’ future. With more clubs coming on board (Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, New York City FC and more in the next three to four years) the league is growing exponentially and it could be a big gamble. With U.S. soccer on board, MLS can go from strength to strength but Klinsmann’s latest comments seem to suggest he is sending out quite the opposite message to players either in MLS, or overseas.

We have seen a huge number of USMNT players return to MLS in recent months with Dempsey, Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clarence Goodson, and Michael Parkhurst to name a few, plus the likes of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler turning down moves abroad to help MLS grow. But Klinsmann’s comments will make other U.S. players think twice before signing in MLS, or staying there.

[RELATED: Media, fans react to Garber’s comments]

Garber spoke about his close relationship with U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati in the conference call and as a director of U.S. Soccer himself, Garber is, obviously, heavily invested in the success of the U.S. national team. If these comments from Garber get him, Gulati and Klinsmann in the same room sometime soon to discuss their issues, work them out and try to work in unison moving forward, then it was all worth it.

The big worry is that as long as Klinsmann is in charge of the USMNT, a divide will continue to grow between the national team and MLS. Middle ground needs to be reached, rapidly, but now we know where both parties stand. Everything is out in the open and how things move forward can now be closely monitored. Both sides will want to resolve this ‘dispute’ amicably but it will take plenty of willing to negotiate as topics such a promotion and relegation aren’t things you discuss lightly.

For me, the fact that we are talking about these issues suggests that both Klinsmann and Garber should be applauded for their leadership, direction and guts. In the aim of making soccer in the USA better, both domestically and on the international level, they are standing up for what they believe in. Rightly or wrongly, this is a key discussion to be having as new ideas need to be implemented and boundaries still need to be pushed in U.S. soccer circles for it to reach its true potential. These type of issues need to be discussed. Right here, right now.

If Garber and Klinsmann can now come together and mesh their ideas, work as one and put their difference of opinion aside, soccer across the USA will benefit. Despite the disparaging comments from both sides, plenty of good can come from this.

Pardew confronted by frustrated Den Haag fans on training field

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Alan Pardew is experiencing a few — shall we say — growing pains in his first couple of months in charge of Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag, culminating in a number of frustrated fans entering the club’s training field and confronting the English manager on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Jurgen Klinsmann’s parting shots cause anger at Hertha Berlin ]

According to reports, around 10 supporters made their way onto the club’s training field to protest recent results. Den Haag have won just one of six games since Pardew was named manager on Christmas Eve. That lone victory came on Pardew’s debut all the way back on Jan. 19. Since then, they have lost three games and drawn two.

Talks between the fans and staff are said to have gone smoothly, but their mere presence is a clear indicator that Pardew isn’t exactly universally loved. With Den Haag currently sitting in 17th place — one spot and four points from the relegation playoff place — Pardew’s Dutch adventure is looking more and more like it’ll be just a six-month stay as his initial contract stated.

[ MORE: Man City makes statement, comes back in Madrid ]

Den Haag CEO Mohammed Hamdi commented on the fans’ protest with the following statement: “ADO Den Haag has one of the most loyal groups of fans in the Netherlands. They are so passionate and want to support the team. The club and supporters are supporting Alan Pardew and the team.”

Klinsmann’s parting shots cause anger at Hertha Berlin

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin thought it was done with Jurgen Klinsmann after his abrupt resignation as coach.

Not so.

[ MORE: Man City makes statement, comes back in Madrid ]

The publication of details from a 22-page diary that Klinsmann wrote during his short time at Hertha has caused a furor at the club and tipped an already testy break-up even further into acrimony.

Hertha general manager Michael Preetz said the club was checking its legal options. He was accused by Klinsmann of “catastrophic failures” and a “culture of lying.”

The Sport Bild magazine published details from Klinsmann’s journal on Wednesday, when it reported that one of the 55-year-old former great’s conclusions after quitting on Feb. 11 was that “the management team has to be replaced immediately. If that doesn’t happen, the great new signings will become average players after a while.”

With Klinsmann at the helm, Hertha spent an estimated $83 million on player signings in January – more than any other team in the world. The moves were made possible because of financier Lars Windhorst’s $250 million investment in the club.

[ MORE: Three things we learned: Real Madrid 1-2 Man City ]

Klinsmann was particularly critical in his journal of Preetz, whose functions he wanted to take over while he was still coach. Klinsmann had said he left because he couldn’t work with the German coaching model, where a team manager shares responsibility for player signings and welfare. Klinsmann wanted full control for every sporting aspect.

Klinsmann said former Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick had turned down the opportunity to coach Hertha in November — before he himself took over — because he couldn’t work under Preetz. That claim was rejected by Rangnick’s agent, Marc Kosicke, on Thursday.

In his journal, Klinsmann also made comments on every Hertha player, describing Salomon Kalou as “too old and content,” fellow forward Dodi Lukebakio as “not willing to suffer,” and the goalkeepers of “not being Bundesliga standard.”

Hertha president Werner Gegenbauer hit back at the “shabby allegations” and a visibly annoyed Preetz said the attacks were “perfidious and unworthy.”

[ MORE: Lyon scores memorable win over misfiring Juventus ]

Windhorst, who brought Klinsmann to the club in the first place, declined to comment. Interim Hertha coach Alexander Nouri, who worked as Klinsmann’s assistant for the 77 days he was at the club, said he “knew nothing” about the journal.

“It’s indisputable that the club is damaged,” Preetz said.

The club has other problems. Klinsmann’s tenure as coach did not go as planned – he was supposed to lead the club toward the European qualification places after he was appointed on Nov. 27. He left after an uninspiring record of three wins, three draws and three losses in the Bundesliga. Hertha was also knocked out of the German Cup by Schalke.

Nouri took over and Hertha earned a 2-1 win at Paderborn, but that that was followed last weekend by a 5-0 loss at home against Cologne. The Hertha fans mocked the players by singing “Oh wie ist das schon” (Oh, how wonderful).

Hertha is only six points above Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation zone ahead of their match on Friday.

CCL wrap: Stoppage-time GK goal saves Tigres; Henry’s Montreal grinds it out

Goalie goal
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Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League nearly featured an upset for the ages.

It will have to be content with a finish for all time.

El Salvador’s Alianza came back from a 4-2 aggregate deficit to nearly knock UANL Tigres out of the CCL, but Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman provided a stoppage time goal to eliminate the upstarts.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Tigres will now meet Ronny Delia’s New York City FC, who had little trouble holding up its first-leg lead over San Carlos.

Thierry Henry’s Montreal had to sweat out a scoreless draw with Saprissa, but rode its two away goals to a date with either Seattle or Olimpia.

Guatemala’s Comunicaciones and Club America are the final match of Wednesday, kicking off at 10 a.m. ET.

UANL Tigres 4-2 (5-4 agg.) Alianza

What a match. Down 2-1 after one leg, Tigres scored thrice in the first 23 minutes. Ex-West Ham man Enner Valencia struck first before Andre-Pierre Gignac score in the 17th and 23rd.

But Juan Carlos Portillo scored twice in nine minutes before halftime to put the away goals advantage in the Salvadorans’ corner.

Tigres out-attempted Alianza 19-6 but couldn’t get it done, and my goodness did it need shot No. 19 from its Argentine international backstop.

Great header for a goalie.

Montreal Impact 0-0 (2-2 agg.) Deportivo Saprissa

This was a dreadful match, but it won’t bother Titi too much; Henry’s men had just 31 percent of the ball and nearly scored anyway through Shamit Shome.

The Impact showed a lot of guts and discipline in frustrating the Costa Ricans, who were disappointed when Clement Diop made an incredible save in the 89th minute.

NYCFC 1-0 (6-3 agg.) San Carlos

Alexander Callens scored the lone goal of the contest, the damage done in Costa Rica last week.

Speaking of damage done, Delia had a “Welcome to CONCACAF officiating” moment.


Ranking the comeback potential of Champions League sides

UEFA Champions League
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Maybe Group H of the UEFA Champions League was very soft.

Chelsea and Valencia are in massive holes after 90 minutes of the Round of 16, and third-place Ajax is a 2-0 hole in its Europa League tie.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The other six teams’ disadvantages after one leg range from tricky to barely existent.

Let’s rate which teams have the best chances to climb back and earn a spot in the quarterfinals.

8. Chelsea (down 3-0 to Bayern Munich after home leg)

Robert Lewandowski’s injury hurts the Bavarians, but not three goals worth of hurt. And Serge Gnabry has been the one sounding death knells for London clubs.

7. Valencia (down 4-1 to Atalanta after away leg)

The away goal combined with the Serie A side’s relative inexperience in the competition gives Valencia a bit more hope than Chelsea.

6. Napoli (level at 1 with Barcelona after home leg)

On the plus side, Gennaro Gattuso’s men are level. That said, they allowed an away goal to Barca and have to go to the Camp Nou against a side yearning to make better UCL memories.

5. Real Madrid (down 2-1 to Man City after home leg)

Who knows what Pep Guardiola will launch at the Etihad Stadium, but giving him two away goals and a lead opens up his playbook? As for Zinedine Zidane, it was all so one dimensional at the Bernabeu. What’s he have cooking?

4. Tottenham Hotspur (down 1-0 to RB Leipzig after home leg)

Spurs have better UEL experience than their second leg hosts, though the striker problems looms over Jose Mourinho’s plans.

3. Liverpool (down 1-0 to Atletico Madrid after away leg)

It’s easy to imagine the Reds’ rebounding, and even Atleti will doubt its potential to keep Liverpool off the scoreboard at Anfield.

2. Paris Saint-Germain (down 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund after away leg)

Dortmund’s allowed plenty of goals this season, and PSG’s attack is stacked.

1. Juventus (down 1-0 to Lyon after away leg)

It’s difficult to imagine Juve playing as poor as they did Wednesday when they head back to Turin. The Old Lady knew something was wrong in warm-ups. They’ll address it, but can they keep Lyon off the board?