October 18, 2014

A few days ago there was another dust-up between US Men's National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. In the aftermath we've heard analysis upon analysis, take after take, all trying to sort things like why can't we all get along and why does Jurgy hate America's domestic league.

I get that controversy is good for certain corners of our society - say, those who make money off of ratings - but I really don't get why this is so complicated for people. In truth, Klinsmann's position is straightforward and logical, totally in line with a fact that we all know about athletics: To be the best, you have to compete against the best.

He doesn't advocate that every player go to Europe. He's clear on this - you need to be playing at the highest level you can get on the pitch. Playing in MLS is better than riding pine in England, but if you can play in England, that's where you should be. You should not be playing in MLS if you could be playing in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and a few more leagues.

Klinsmann can't be happy about Jozy Altidore's situation, for instance. Jozy plays for Sunderland in the Premier League, the world's best. But he spends most of his time on the bench and rarely scores when he gets off it - in brief, he just isn't good enough for the Prem. Not yet, anyway. If he leaves England for a lesser league where he's playing regularly, that will make Jurgen happy.

However, other US players - Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley come to mind - most certainly are good enough to be playing in top European leagues (although, in Dempsey's defense, he did try his damnedest, and his failure to stick perhaps lies more with the personnel folks in those leagues - and their preconceived skepticism of American talent - than it does him).

It's also easy enough to predict that while Klinsmann seems to have issues with MLS at the moment, those issues are going to dwindle with time. The why is simple - the league is getting better, and as it does there are fewer places abroad where American players would be better off.

As for Garber, there's nothing especially complex about his position, either. His job is to grow MLS and it helps the league's profile when it can attract top players. If a guy who could be starting in La Liga chooses MLS, that's validation. It helps the league's credibility with other players, with fans, and by the way, with advertisers. Again, really logical, really straightforward.

Problem is, right now those two goals - what's best for the #USMNT and what's best for MLS - don't sync up. But give it a few years.

In sum, there's a lot of analysis over this whole Jurgy vs Garber thing, and ultimately it's a lot simpler than some people make it.

So simmer down. If you enjoy watching hair fly, go for it. Just don't get caught up in the idea that it needs a lot of deep analysis.

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