Don Garber threw MLS-focused media into a bit of a tizzy today when he delivered a rant by mode of press conference — a time-honored tradition, to be fair, but one that's got people talking.
What did he say?
I wasn't on the conference call, but plenty of people were — Twitter was alight with comments. But the gist of the press conference seemed to be that Garber is upset that USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann openly criticized MLS a bit.
What did Klinsmann say?
As per this Reuters article, Klinsmann said the following:
"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."
What was the point?
In a single sentence, it was a demand from Garber. Let's go to Twitter — here's a quote tweeted by Steven Goff of the Washington Post — one of our nation's best soccer reporters.
Garber: "I am demanding that [Klinsmann] refrain from making comments which are critical of our players and damaging to our league"— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) October 15, 2014
What does it mean for MLS?
Well, probably not much right now. We might struggle to bring some players into MLS from the national team — but it's been a struggle already. The Mix Diskerud saga — Portland, Columbus — comes to mind — the single-entity structure is one he's found problematic. There's not a whole lot of indication that it's made a huge difference outside of structure, given Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley have all come into the league in the last year or thereabouts.
These sorts of fights between the national team and the league are not exactly new on the world stage, and we still have leagues like the English Premier League out there dominating affairs. MLS shouldn't see much impact from this rant or argument.
What does it mean for Real Salt Lake?
We were never particularly likely to land USMNT players — we're more likely to create them, and we have — but the mess that is this back-and-forth between the national team and the league isn't going to help. The structure is already not widely permissive to our bringing in those players.
What about players like Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando?
While Beckerman wasn't involved with this most recent set of friendlies, Rimando was. Both haven't seen real trouble getting into the national team picture, with Rimando now fighting with Brad Guzan for the first-choice goalkeeping spot. Beckerman's been consistently involved and went to the World Cup.
It's hard to say that these two have struggled with Klinsmann because they play in MLS, and while we do sometimes worry about a non-domestic-player bias from the national side — it's weird seeing German second division players struggle when we have interesting options in MLS — it's not exactly damning evidence.
Chris Schuler? Tony Beltran? Luis Gil?
We think Schuler's been the victim of some terrible luck and timing recently, or he'd be involved. I'd pointed at him for a call-up in this most recent window, but his run-in with Nat Borchers has left him unavailable for all consideration. Tony Beltran's been an interesting case because he's had some trouble integrating with the national team, despite his very consistent domestic form. Luis Gil will get his real shot at some point — Olympics, perhaps — and will be a great national team player someday. We hope.