16 October, 2014

To Be or Not To Klinsi

So if you weren't privy to the conference call with MLS Commissioner Don Garber or haven't read any of the transcripts floating out there, let me fill you in on what just happened.

Don Garber is pissed that the USMNT head coach belittled MLS as the retirement community of big name soccer players and guys that could beat me one on one but couldn't cut it against solid competition day in and day out.

Now look, that's not to say MLS is bad.  It's got it's good teams (Seattle, for example, has some solid play) and some bad (Chivas is still a team?).  The drop off is huge.  And against other CONCACAF club teams, we still look good. I mean, who wouldn't think a team of MLSers shouldn't easily beat a team from a country with a population of 40,000?  Hell, we do that every few months.  It's called USMNT v St. Kitts et al.

And, sure, you are marketing a league to families and kids and trying to make money, but you don't have the tax exempt status of the NFL, nor do you have the sheer number of domestic abusers, rapers, and druggies that MLB/NFL has, so spare me that you think this league is the top flight of the world that could hang with the EPL.

Do you seriously think we're top flight if we have to play an all star team of our players against a CL team and still fear regularly losing?

Look, just quit it.

And when you hired Jurgen, you knew you were getting a control freak.  The guy was flying back and forth between the US and Germany when he ran the Mannschaft.  At Bayern, he thought he could come in and change the culture (bad idea).  So when he comes to the US and you give him the reins and tell him to develop the youth through our NT, you expect him to say, don't play against the best competition daily, and challenge yourself?

The "Don" started yesterday's call like this:

“Obviously, this is not a call that I want to have made, and it’s certainly not something I look forward to discussing."

Hmmm. okay.  At this point I was intrigued.  Jurgen has called out players before, and when he did it behind closed doors, they didn't respond, so when he said that Bradley needs to man up and get back to challenging himself, I agreed.  Hell, enough of the defender commentary that he was playing out of position in Brazil.  If you think that changed with his time at TFC, you're wrong.  Case in point, our friendly against Honduras the other day.  He made three straight passes into our own defense to a player under pressure and forced them to frantically clear it out.  The kid is supposed to be a pro.  He tried to do way too much and made huge mental mistakes that cost us a few goals against.  Never mind that Dempsey doesn't play defense, so you know he wasn't going to drop in and help.

Here's the thing, if you have players that are incapable of vision and playing to your team tactic, you drop them for players that can.  This problem with the US currently is that we don't have a lot of midfield depth which was why I was glad to see us bring a lot of youth to Brazil for the World Cup.

You remember the World Cup, right?  Where we left Landycakes at home and still made it out of the group stages, finally beat Ghana (Bradley never could- here or with Egypt where he was undefeated and just had to beat Ghana to qualify but managed to get pummeled 7-3 on aggregate), and had an all around pretty good showing.

I for one didn't miss our designated penalty kick taker (well, maybe when Jozy went down, but we seemed to have done well with a team that was focused and playing as a team).  And we see how our team plays when we try to get the ball to a single person.  Hell, there's a reason why we drew that game on Saturday against Ecuador.  We had several chances to score and instead tried to help the US record assist/goal leader score another goal rather than try to win.  If we wanted a testimonial, then have a testimonial.  This was luckily not a qualifier.

So Garber continued:

“I will do anything and everything to defend our league, our players and our owners. I don’t believe anyone is above the sport and I believe everyone needs to be accountable for their behavior. Juergen’s comments are very, very detrimental to the league. They are detrimental to the sport of soccer in America and everything that we are trying to do north of the border. And not only do I think they are detrimental, they are wrong. 
Saying to any player that signing with MLS is not going to be good for their career or good for their form is detrimental.
In 2014, MLS is going to spend over $30m on player development alone. That investment is going to grow over the next couple of years.
To think that we are not aligned with our national team coach is disappointing and personally infuriating and frankly I don’t think it is in line with the shared vision that this league has with the federation. To think that our national team coach is not in alignment with that is frustrating as hell."
But here's the thing. Garber is Gulati and Gulati is Garber.  They got each other to the place they are now.  Like a modern day Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer, just with less graft.  Garber wouldn't tear into USSoccer without checking in with his buddy.

So what does this mean?  It means Klinsi better start looking over his shoulder.  He's about 2 minutes away from getting the ax again and it's not his incompetent son with his Twitter tirades this  time.

If Klinsi wants to help this country along, and I sincerely think he wants to help this country rather than himself, he needs to tread lightly.  When club owners are dropping $70+mil just to join the club, there are two things they don't like: relegation ( a chance to not feed their ego) and disparaging remarks about how they spend their money.

And while I agree that MLS is where EPL players go to retire, at some point MLS will be the place players go in their prime like the NASL was.  That time isn't now, though. And will kids now not suddenly go to MLS games because they won't play for the USMNT?  No.  The argument is specious.

This is simple an argument of egos and in this case, Klinsi probably wasn't getting his way and wanted players to step up their game rather than coasting (like every coach I ever played for) so he decided to kick someone in the balls.  Unfortunately, the people he kicked happen to control the reins and a lot of money.

Let's just hope when the dust clears, we aren't stuck with a Steve Sampson part II leading a team of Freddy Adus.


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