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The SBI Show: Episode 172 (Recapping MLS Week 33, talking Garber vs. Klinsmann, and more)

DempseyDonovan (USA Today Sports)

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports



The MLS regular season is down to one week left after a dramatic Week 33 that saw some teams send strong signals of intent, and others stumble with the playoffs in sight.

Episode 172 of The SBI Show takes a look back at the weekend’s MLS action, including Seattle’s comeback against the Los Angeles Galaxy, and the Columbus Crew’s impressive win against the New York Red Bulls.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also discuss the recent war of words between U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and MLS commissioner Don Garber, and we take a look back at the USMNT’s 1-1 tie with Honduras last Tuesday.

Give Episode 172 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:

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What did you think of the show? Agree with our takes on the Klinsmann-Garber


  1. Ives, I’ve think you’ve missed the whole point on the Garber-JK thing, unfortunately. You spent most of your time on the topic talking about the actual substance of the topic, MLS vs. foreign leagues. Frankly, everyone who thinks that’s the issue here is just not getting it. I actually completely agree with the substance of JK’s remarks, which is why your characterization of Garber’s defenders as just delusional people who think MLS is somehow on par with top foreign leagues is just wrong. JK’s right on that front. And for the record, you are right in pointing out that JK was talking about the top US players, and that he didn’t say that MLS has no value.

    The problem is that when the US national team coach makes a statement like that, who’s listening? It’s not just top national team players. It’s EVERY youth or fringe player who harbors dreams of one day being a top national team player. When Klinsmann made that remark, you can be damn sure that every youth player and his parents paid attention. I think it’s really funny that people were saying that Klinsmann’s comments weren’t even an issue until Garber addressed them – as if we, fans and journalists, are the real audience for those comments. We might not have been talking about them, but youth players were certainly thinking about them.

    And therein lies the problem. When JK makes a statement like that, it moves the needle for everyone, and actually makes it harder for MLS to achieve what Klinsmann would ideally like – which is for it to be a place where top talent can actually be challenged at the highest levels. That’s not happening if players are hearing this message from one of soccer’s all time greats that the league isn’t good enough. So Ives, you’re right that the substance of Klinsmann’s comments was accurate, but for him to address it in public was just completely counterproductive.

    In response, of course Garber came out swinging. Again, I think you totally missed the point here. He wasn’t making these comments to defend the league to fans and journalists. He was sending a signal to his owners and to current and potential MLS players. The fact that the head of the league came out and was over the top should have been anything but surprising. And if Klinsmann has every right to make his comments, then Garber certainly has every right to make his. And while Garber’s obviously being silly about the quality of MLS, he’s absolutely right that Kilnsmann shouldn’t be saying this stuff in public.

    Here’s another thing about your coverage of this issue that bugs me. I think you and the other journalists on the conference call got way, way too affected by the tone of Garber’s comments. I’m sure he did sound cringeworthy. But guess what: if you can’t look past that and see the bigger picture and think about what kind of signal he was actually trying to send, then you’re not really adding anything to the debate by saying that Garber was cringeworthy and that what he said was crap. That’s basically completely beside the point.

    I get that you’re calling out Garber for what you think is a load of crap. But sometimes posturing has a purpose.

  2. It’s gotten to the point that I want to click play just to see what the intro music is going to be. This one didn’t disappoint.

  3. I mostly agree with Ives’ take on the whole Klinsmann vs. Garber dust up. Garber definitely overreacted and overreached and he clearly should’ve taken another 24 hours on that one before speaking. That being said!

    Garber does have a point, from the perspective that, in the past decade, World Cup winners have been about more than just playing in Europe, and to suggest it would, from my perspective, be a gross oversimplification. Champions seem to be crowned not just from challenging themselves in Europe day in and day out, but from players that play against top competition with one another within a system. Case in point: Jozy.

    Jozy went to AZ and seemed to thrive there even while experiencing a highly visible breakdown at the national team level. Klinsmann actually changed his style to put another player up top with Jozy and the goals began to pour in, as he’d been doing with his club team. Jozy moved to Sunderland, Di Canio was fired soon afterwards, Goose comes in and leaves Jozy all alone up top. Goal drought ensues.

    It’s not just about training against the best, or playing against the best. It’s about playing on a club that mirrors one’s international system being surrounded by your club and international squad teammates. Italy was an okay example of this, but Spain in 2010 and Germany this year were DEFINITELY examples of how this led to World Cup success.

    • Argh. My main point in all of this was to say that Germany and Spain benefitted from strong domestic leagues. As England started to poach Spain’s talent back to the Premier Lauge, the drop off was precipitous, to be kind. Spain’s World Cup winning team was basically Barcelona/Real Madrid All-Star squad. Germany this year was Bayern with some Dortmund so people would be reminded that they’re still relevant.

      MLS is a LONG way from being the Bundesliga or La Liga, but I think domestic league strength translating into national team success was the general gist of Garber’s argument.

      • There is also a lot to be said for the fact that Germany effectively has a “national club team” in Bayern Munich. How many players in the Germany side were unfamiliar with each other from club soccer? Pretty much everybody had played together (almost exclusively at BM)…. Year-round playing time as a group seems like a pretty good way to have your NT win the World Cup. Same could be said for Spain, who basically just drafted in Casillas and Sergio Ramos, and otherwise just took a Barcelona team (minus Messi) to three major trophies.

        No other country (save Italy) can do this. So how do we get there? Tough question. Ives won’t answer.

  4. Ives: great show, but I disagree re: Garber and Klinsmann.

    Garber is defending his league. Klinsmann, the man who solely picks US Men’s National Team rosters, said that it is better for players to not play in Garber’s league; Garber has every right to say that this isn’t true, and he should.

    And you know what? I don’t think it is true. It’s a case-by-case basis. Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea have somewhat ruined their careers, for the time being at least, by moving to Europe. Landon Donovan stayed in the US, and became a huge success (by the way, if him not going to Europe is failure, I’m glad that he failed and made our national league, MLS, relevant).

    If Michael Bradley or Clint Dempsey (or Jermaine Jones, who Klinsmann seemed to have no problem with moving to MLS–explain that one, please) wants to move to MLS, and play in their home country, and be the star of their team, and not have to worry much about playing time, why can’t they? I would argue that Jozy Altidore would become a better player as a leader for the Red Bulls, where he’d start every game and be in a league with more parity, as opposed to being on the bench at Sunderland or wherever, at a team that’s never going to win anything, and even if they do, it’s not at all because of him.

    Perhaps instead of a rant about how wrong Garber is for criticizing Almighty Klinsmann, stepping back and looking at this as a case-by-case basis that Klinsmann’s generalizations would be better?

    As I said, I enjoy your work, and listening to these shows is a staple of my routine. I don’t care about long shows or short shows, I just want shows!

    P.S. Hopefully you can help Garrett with his crack problem.

    • P.P.S. I totally agree that the Donovan bit was too far for Garber. But I do agree that it was a terrible move to drop the best ever, who can still play, while you also call in a reserve team player.

  5. I love how people say you can’t measure the MLS league. Yes you can. Lets look every region has a CCL. Top leagues always make the top of there CCL’s. Where is MLS in our CCL? At the bottom. You want MLS to be taken as a higher league. WIN CCL.

    • I do think you’re right that an MLS team winning the CCL is a milestone that needs to be achieved for the good of the league, and the competition itself. However..

      I think it’s probably incorrect to say they are “at the bottom” as they are really simply “behind Mexico”. But that, of course, is the problem. The division of wealth is going to continue to affect and widen the gap of talent between the US/Mexico, and everybody else.

      You needn’t watch more than a game or two to see that the CL in our region is a sad affair. The are few experiences more depressing as a soccer geek than watching Jack McBean chase the ball on a rainy night in El Salvador in front of 250 people via an ugly TV feed, Makes you feel like you are as bad as any drunk or heron addict. It’s hardly like watching the UEFA CL or the Libertadores, where stadiums an be filled passionate fans even in the qualifying rounds.

      Fact is– nobody cares about this tournament. Few of the fans in “also-ran” countries seem to have any illusions or investment about their side winning (with some exceptions). Or maybe they don’t value the competition. US fans seem to care more this than anybody (and judging by domestic attendane, that still ain’t much)… will anybody care after the milestone has been achieved? Maybe the hardcores… but can they fill the house on a random Wednesday? Enough to get people excited about what they see on TV? Ultimately, that’s what really needs to happen.

  6. Question for SBI and A little off the subject but still pertaining to the MLS . With the MLS planning on reducing the roster from 30 players to 24 next season , would you say they are abandoning development of the younger players coming in to the league ? Obviously the first players to get cut are the rookies and younger players in the league .With the exception of the teams investing in development of the younger players like Galaxy 2 and Seattle 2 and Portland 2 ETC. How is the MLS looking to the future ? This move is obviously in anticipation of the players union looking to up minimum pay in the league to be more comparable to other leagues .

    • I think this is a very good series of questions and I look forward to Ives’s answer…

      Logically, It would be difficult to make your first point without showing that MLS is also focusing on staffing the 24 man rosters via transfers from other leagues. In a way, you could actually say the league is rewarding clubs who invest heavily in development, because they will be the most likely to field competitive teams without having to pay transfer fees (historically a far more expensive option, and one that will be difficult for smaller-market teams).

      A team with a ready built feeder team (LA2, SEA2, POR2) has accesss to a cheap pool of talent (that are getting match experience) and these early movers will perhaps even be able to capture some of the younger talent that might be displaced by the roster downsizing, as you point out. Clubs would be wise to explore starting such “feeder” franchises themselves, or exploring long-term partnerships with clubs in USL/NASL, etc.

      Certainly,you are correct that this is a pre-emptive move to limit the gains that the players union may demand. But it also puts pressure on USL/NASL to accept a long-term status as “secondary” teams (not entirely different from Major League Baseball and its minor league affiliates)

      Anyway, that’s one man’s perspective. Good comment.

  7. Ives,

    Your ads are killing me, some lady is talking in a small window on the right of your screen. I can’t mute her or close the window so you both are shouting over each other.

    I know that ads bring home the bacon for you, but can then not interfere with you pod casts?


    • Apologies for the ad issues. My advice would be to listen to the podcast on iTunes, or via the iTunes Podcast App (which I use), or Stitcher, or directly on our Soundcloud page.


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