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Klinsmann restates support for relegation system in MLS, earlier professional careers

Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT 33

Photo by Kirby Lee/ USA Today Sports


Last fall, Jurgen Klinsmann turned some heads when he stated that he felt Major League Soccer was missing out by not having promotion and relegation. He doubled down on that sentiment this week, restating his wish that MLS would one day feature pro/rel.

The USMNT head coach told German newspaper Rheinische Post that he still hopes to see MLS introduce a relegation system in an effort to increase competitiveness and help improve his pool of national team players.

Klinsmann cited one of his former club’s, Stuttgart, who was in a relegation battle until the very end of the Bundesliga season. For Klinsmann, the thrill of watching his former club battle to remain in the league is a thrill unseen in the American game.

“I got up at half-past six in the morning to see their (final) match in Paderborn,” Klinsmann told the Rheinische Post. “That clubs like Stuttgart were down there, shows how close the Bundesliga is, how much quality it has.

“This thrill of the relegation battle is non-existent in the U.S. league. The risk for club investors to all of a sudden play in the second league would be too high. But the sporting side would benefit from it. Our players from Europe know that. That furthers our national team. Something is at stake week in, week out. Be it at the top or at the bottom, you always have to perform.”

In addition, Klinsmann went on to say that another change he would like to see made would be to see players start their careers earlier like their overseas counterparts.

With some players still opting to go the college route, some prospects don’t join the professional ranks until their early 20s. For Klinsmann, that needs to be improved upon, as the coach hopes to see players start their professional development at a younger age, much like their European teammates.

“Players from Europe are there going through the centers of excellence, whether in the Bundesliga or in England, and therefore have a great basic training,” Klinsmann said. “They are trained tactically and know what it takes to succeed. Therefore, we must use the resources that result from families with an American background. I think it’s great that a lot of players who have a double pass, choose to play for the United States. And they bring with them with something else: They come from soccer-mad countries.

“Football grows with us, but it’s still a long way,” Klinsmann added. “Often the football is still used for university scholarships, but that’s not operated properly. There is in this vast country many, many talents, but scouting a country the size of the United States is a huge task. So it’s good that the American players who live in Europe reflect on its roots. And yes it can not hurt for the future. A professional career starts at 15, a maximum of 18 years old – and then it is perhaps attractive to live in the USA.”


  1. A difference between Europe and the United States that no one has mentioned concerns pay. Encouraging young athletes to concentrate on sport may make some sense in many European countries because, if you are successful, you can make at least a decent living for a number of years. In the United States, many MLS players earn little more than they would make as middle school PE teachers. (A survey of pay in the Football League done several years ago revealed that the average League Two player made as much or more than the average MLS player.)

  2. Once again I will say, without promotion and relegation there is NO proper definition of 1st, 2nd or 3rd divisions. Just because someone invested in a club does not mean that club is all a sudden 1st division. I will also admit it will be a difficult process because of those investments. Bottom line get it done if you want respect and exponential growth. American fans would love it.

  3. Klinsmann is simply stating his opinion. Opinion that is shared by thousands of football fans in the US, and we are quickly branded as Eurosnobs. And then the haters proceed on to tell me why pro-rel will never work here (I ‘ve heard all the reasons, and they are all BS).

    It comes down to MLS’s unwillingness to work toward the logical progression of football in this country.

    Growing up, I was 9-10 years old, and my home town’s team was fighting for survival in the second division. It was in pre-internet, pre-cell phone times…I remember I was with my classmates vacationing at the Black Sea, and the whole class gathered by the radio station for the 8pm sports news to find out the final score. My home team needed a point away from home in a direct battle for survival, and they got the draw they needed, on the back of two come from behind victories before that, throwing the whole town (and all my classmates) into delirium.

    But, hey, promotion-relegation is awful, MLS will never agree, it goes against the league’s structure, the owners won’t agree, there is no well-developed 2nd division, there is no benefit to the system, bla-h, bla-h…

    • If you want pro/rel, support your local independent team and forget MLS nonsense. Don’t stay quiet, that’s how the system remains without changing.

    • And I’ve find most of the arguments from pro-rel gnomes goes:

      1. Institute promotion-relegation
      2. ???

      Hell, Ligue 1 just cut back from 3-up/3-down to 2-up/2-down. You know why? “Those who invest in football must be less subject to the permanent threat of relegation.” That’s not Don Garber speaking, that’s LFP president Frédéric Thiriez.

      And that’s even before you get into Argentina blowing up to 30 teams so as to bring in enough cannon fodder to make sure River Plate never go down again.

      • Yep, pro/rel allows this type of flexibility.

        How many teams were killedas a result of this decision? NONE, every place in France that can support a team has a team to support with access to the top flight.

        How about MLS? Killing teams at all levels, left and right. Don’t call me a gnome, you bot. Regurgitating selective facts here and there and resting your case on arguments that haven’t been true in over 20 – 30 years, if they ever were true.

        But hey, here’s an example from the UNITED STATES – every soccer league in American history that has failed has been a closed franchise league.

        Hey Jason bot, tell me a pro/ rel league that has failed? If you can think of any, then I will tell about 100s that are still going strong.

  4. A new species that has been discovered on the SBI boards – MLS snobs. Too funny.

    Guys that think US is not ready because there aren’t enough clubs of MLS for multiple tiers, too funny, as if there is an insurmountable gap between Lower divisions and MLS. Hilarity.

    Plenty of clubs and fans here, open the pyramid and there will be more.

    To support pro/rel, support your local independent soccer clubs!

    • Have you seen the facilities that some of the lower tiers play in? Many of those teams are no more stable — in a business sense — than new restaurant that just opened up down the street. Why would MLS want to allow those types of organizations in when it could clearly hurt the overall structure?

      • Many of these teams look small-time because nobody’s investing money in them. Who would invest big money in a team that’s going nowhere?

        If they thought they had a chance to climb their way up D1 or Champions League, you would see much much more investment.

        Too often we talk about pro / rel only how it affects MLS franchises. The positive changes it would have on the lower divisions is the real story

      • You say that most of the USL teams want to be in MLS. Isn’t that a form of promotion? If they have a solid owner, build up their roster and fan base enough, then they can get into the league. All without threatening the viability of a still relatively fledgling top flight. What’s the problem here?

      • There is zero proof pro/rel leads to instability – in fact all like he evidence is to the opposite.

        Show us your evidence for this.

      • Firstly, there is no need for MLS involvement period. Pro/rel is the domain of USSF, it is not for MLS to dictate to the rest of the country.

        Secondly, are we concerned with soccer on the field or what your stadium looks like? If the new restaurant has good food I’m going there, not the over priced one that charges more for the same quality. And here is the point, MLS quality is not so much better than NASL and USL that MLS snobbery can look down on them. That’s the funny thing, trying to say there is huge gap b/w MLS and the lower divisions. Hilarious. NASL probably has a better record against MLS than MLS has against LigaMX. Hilarious.

        More stuff here, but it is depressing talking to MLS fans who value facilities instead of the quality on the field.

      • Pretending like the gap between MLS and the other leagues isn’t sizable is disregarding reality. The difference in the rosters is absolutely significant. Then consider things like staffs, facilities, youth development, etc. and you would be nuts to say that the other leagues even compare to MLS. Fast forward five years and the gap will be even wider in these areas — even though the other leagues will benefit from the trailblazing that MLS has done just as they have benefitted in the roster department. Don;t act like MLS isn’t helping the other divisions in a major way.

      • I’m not sure. Why don’t you go back to being a fan? I’ll keep doming what I’m doing.

  5. If you value pro/ rel then you will have to look elsewhere, not MLS. Also, USSF should control it, not MLS, less MLS is necessary, not more.

    Btw – there would be no Messi in a franchise system.

      • Actually, you’re wrong. Look into his youth again and how Barcelona helped him out – the details are things that would not happen in the franchise system. Do some research, it has more value for you to look into it than to have a stranger tell you here.

      • Easy with the passive aggressive insults, bud. Messi getting on an hgh program at FCB has nothing to do with how the league is set up. What, exactly, is the connection there?

  6. I have been left with such a bad taste from US Soccer under Klinsmann. A matchup like US v Germany should excite me. Instead, every game the US plays turns my stomach. My joy for US Soccer is gone. I can only hope it returns after his reign. Bad tastes tend to linger.

    • Just enjoy the soccer. JK is annoying as hell, but the US soccer and it’s players developing to a level where they can beat the Dutch is heaven.

      JK isn’t slowing down that growth with his troll-like comments.

  7. So JK is contending that Stuttgart playing to not be in last place is more exciting then them vying for a title?

    YES, yes he is. Beyond belief.

    • He never said that. He said it’s more exciting than them playing pointless games at the end of the season, which it clearly is.

      • No. Wrong. MLS is a parity league where every team can win every year.

        Stuttgard will never win it. Ever. Players are better off developing where they know they can win it. Period. Dumb, in my opinion to think otherwise.
        Artificially relegating teams because you only want the league to be 20 teams is fine, let them do it. But it is dumb and the US will NOT do it.

        To recap Stuttgard wil never win it all, MLS will always let every team win it all, in fact it will encourage all teams to have a great chance to win it all.

        Who is playing meaningless games? Every game that Stuttgard plays from now to my death is meaningless.

      • First of all, Stuttgart won the league in 1950, 1952, 1984, 1992, and most recently in 2007. If you’re implying that they will never win it again…maybe in the immediate future, but odds are that they will hoist the trophy again because they are one of the most historic clubs in Germany.

        Second, why should I care about MLS? The league determines which teams play in it. My local team is from Iowa and they will never have the opportunity to be promoted or relegated in our current closed system. What incentive do I have to support MLS teams or the league itself by extension then? Stuttgart at least gets to compete on merit — and that means something, especially when they win a title after 15 years. The game is about glory (i.e. How did you accomplish your goal?) — not solely about winning.

      • There’s also the fact that the Bundesliga has certain measures in place that act as a leveler, namely the “50+1” rule for club ownership (although they’ve loosened that for people with long-standing involvement in a club, like Hoffenheim’s sugar daddy). You can’t have some Russian or Dubai oilagarch buy a club and proceed to spend whatever it takes to win a trophy.

        The greater concern is ending up like La Liga, where Barcelona and Real have finished 1-2 for 9 of the past 11 seasons, in large part because the TV contracts have been skewed so heavily in their favor due to individual clubs negotiating their own deals (which the Spanish government has now passed a law requiring TV deals to be negotiated as a collective, like the EPL), or Scotland where for decades the smaller clubs’ ambition has been no more than “split the Old Firm”

      • I’m not saying a system where one or two teams wins every year is ideal but neither is a system where every team is the same and it’s just a matter of who plays a little better on the day that determines who wins.

        I’m an MLS season ticket holder so I’m in no way anti-MLS. But parity is not the holy grail you’ve made it out to be. Plus the Stuttgart comment was hilariously wrong.

  8. No matter your opinion on JK, can we ALL agree he is a soccer blog commenter?

    Unbelievable. He brings up Pro/Rel more than Big Soccer.

  9. Within the last month, the Guardian ran an article describing the post-soccer lives of several English players. Admittedly none of these players made huge salaries (they played when salaries were modest), but they were full time professionals for considerable periods. Nearly all of them experienced real challenges trying to find a new life and career for themselves in their mid-30s. None of them had any post-high school education. It made interesting reading.
    If that’s what successful players experience, imagine what it is like for a 22 year old who never made any real money playing soccer.
    It is true that, in the United States, our education system includes various paths and you can go back to school. Nonetheless, post high school education costs money and takes time and effort. If you haven’t been focusing on education since you were 14 or 16, it could be a significant challenge to go back to the classroom.
    We already have too many young people who struggle to find decent jobs in a field that means something to them. I don’t think we should be cavalier about pushing still more young athletes to abandon education in their teens.

    • truth on both sides of the argument. education should never be pushed out of consideration. the issue here is that ncaa and local high schools are not the best entities to develop good soccer players – but they share the same time frames *moreorless

      best solution is like what most hs athletes do; they go to school but play for a club. ideally this continues thorought life where education and athletics are thru different entities so a 20 year old could be a professional or academy athlete at the same time as a college student.

      a lot more players these days are more heavily involved in academies and usl team while in school. so the issue is kinda resolving itself but there are still major ncaa regulations and complexities that stand in the way of this really being a non-issue.

  10. Context:
    1) Can anyone name a player from a promoted team (from any league) who later played for a Champions League team?
    2) Can anyone name a player from a team that survived a relegation battle who later played for a Champions League team?
    I’m supposing there are maybe a small handful of players who would be an answer to those questions. The level JK wants to get his players to is miles ahead of bottom-tier pro/rel battles. Read Pogba’s bio. He’s a more common example of how top-tier talent develops at a young age. Acadamies and under-x teams.

    • 1 and 2 Lukas Podolski
      1 Michael Ballack
      2 Kevin Prince Boateng

      That took about 5 minutes. I’m sure there are more. In Germany, it’s unusual, but it happens.

    • 1) Buffon, Del Piero, Trezeguet, Nedved, Podolski, Platini (European Cup)
      2) Hummels, Dede, Kehl, Kuba, Lucio, Ze Roberto, Ballack, Emerson, Llorente.

  11. I disagree when re down to the last 4-5 matches draws are not as helpful as wins. However as long as we have franchises instead of clubs we will not have Pro/Rel. Do you really think the owners are going to vote to have the possibility of own team going down to the second division. But before that is even discussed MLS will have to stop expanding

  12. It somewhat difficult to compare the USA to other countries and their leagues. Most of the leagues have one dominant team because that team resides in the biggest city in the country–bigger city=more fans=more money to spend on players. The smaller cities and the markets for their teams dollar wise aren’t even close (some bigger clubs spend more on one player than an entire smaller team is worth payroll wise)-but support for those teams is very regional with a few exceptions (Bayern Munich isn’t even the most popular team in Munich, it’s 1860 Munich).
    The smaller clubs remain competitive through loans and their academies. I think those who live in big cities in America just don’t get it lol. I live in a smaller market in America–put out a good product at a good price that well represents the community and people will show up–whether the team wins or loses. We don’t expect to win against teams with higher budgets/populations and I will never support the argument to only allow teams to spend a certain amount and be capped–that’s unfair.

  13. How many people are actually watching a relegation fight? I find it often just promotes an ugly defensive style of the game. MLS needs less of that, not more.

    • common misconception! american players need to play in more games where the pressure is on, there are negative implications for losing and creative ways of holding on to leads, scoring the equalizers, grinding out results, etc. — that nastiness that JK often talks about —

      id say our playoffs deliver this to a degree but its a large component of soccer we just don’t get here.

      and i gotta say, as a lukewarm fan of a terrible mls team, I would absolutely love to see my team in this situation! intense games rather than flopping around the the bottom of the league all year..

  14. A very trenchant analysis. The MLS model has worked and provided financial stability, especially when is important, in its infancy. Soccer is growing both in quality and popularity in the US. I believe the track the MNLS has taken is the best for steady, long term growth. MLS had the example of the NASL which shot up like a rocket and then flamed out. Many European teams outside the top tier are struggling financially; some have gone into receivership. The US system is working and is best suited to the US market and society. I think you hit all the nails on the heads.

  15. Does promotion/relegation make for greater competition within soccer leagues? Pointing to “relegation battles” many say “yes.” It is certainly true that the prospect of relegation motivates some teams to play harder towards the end of the season and gives fans something to fuss about. At the same time, the common model for soccer leagues (that is outside the US) does not little or nothing else to promote competition. Teams can spend as much as they can; there are no salary caps. As a result, only a few teams can aspire to win the championship. Many teams are doomed to mid-table survival and thus there are still many meaningless games in the second half of the season. How many meaningful games, for example, did West Ham play after Christmas?

    The US model, on the other hand, tries to promote competition by leveling the financial playing field and by making qualification for a post-season tournament the immediate goal for regular season play. Is this better? The answer, despite the passion with which some argue for promotion/relegation, is not obviously “no.” ( I shan’t bother to discuss the fact that MLS has a business model that would make adoption of promotion/relegation complicated at least.)

    Is training young soccer players completely outside the school system better? It is an article of faith with many that such training produces more, better soccer players. The evidence for this belief is rather limited — if only because the principal country that does not use this system, the United States, differs from the principal soccer countries in many other ways.

    Is training outside the school system better for soccer players? — not a question that often comes up. If you look carefully at soccer outside the US, you see far more “failed” soccer players than successful ones. The failure rate for soccer academies and such approaches 90 or 95%, that is, it takes perhaps 20 entrants to produce one successful professional player. As a result the rest of the soccer world is full of former trainees who end their usually short soccer careers at 18 or 20 with little or no education. Is this really a socially responsible system? (Again I will skip the obvious facts that the US long ago moved away from any such system for sports and that it would take a monumental effort to reverse that decision.)

    If people are serious about producing more skilled, successful professional soccer players in the United States and they believe that intensive training starting at 14 or 15 is essential, they need to devise an approach that allows aspiring players to continue their educations, even through college, while still receiving serious soccer training.

    • I think you’re unnecessarily combining pro/rel and the salary cap model. Starting a system of promotion/relegation doesn’t mean we have to get rid of the salary cap and make the playing fields unlevel as is the case in Europe.

      The other thing people seem to be implying is that turning professional at 15 means forfeiting an education. Players in European academies are still getting educations while they are training. I have a few friends who played in academies when they were younger and it’s not like they just skipped school altogher. It’s similar to university, but with more emphasis on training year round. In college, you spend a few months training and then are distracted by the other facets of a college lifestyle the rest of the year…not the ideal situation for growing players in my opinion.

      Anyway, I think we’re still not at a point were implementing pro/rel is feasible, but maybe sometime in the future. I do think it would be interesting watching the top teams compete for the Supporter’s Shield, the middle teams compete for playoffs, and the bottom teams fight to stay in the league.

    • Sorry, this is nonsense. Nowhere else in the world do elite players go to college because you prepare for a career in professional soccer by being a professional soccer player, not by going to history classes. This is absurd. Do you guys know that people can still go to college later on if a soccer career doesn’t work out?

      I know if I was 17 or 18 and had a chance to play professionally, I’d take it. There’s some small risk, no question, but it’s one I’d surely take. And I imagine most others would too.

      • There is some small risk?
        Are you kidding or being sarcastic? You have to be.

        You will make how much playing in USL right now? I am guessing zero is closer to the wage you can live on.
        And Jordon Morris can go to Stanford to play soccer versus that.

        That is a pretty big risk.
        ZERO question what kids will do. Zero question on what they are doing.

        If most others would take that risk…then why aren’t they?
        13,000 college soccer players. Great players like Zakuani and nagbe coming out every year.

      • Going to college is the right choice for the vast majority of those college soccer players because they’ll never make it as pros. I’m talking about the elite who can.

        LOL, “great” players like Zakuani and Nagbe?! Wow, we have very different definitions of “great” Also what “great” players came out this year? Last year? More and more, college soccer is becoming irrelevant and the game in this country is all the better for it.

      • Just wishful thinking Slow, wishful thinking.

        Roldan is crushing it for Seattle.

      • Yedlin left early and therefore doesn’t have a degree. Zardes would probably be better if he’d played professionally. Like I said, some guys are able to overcome the loss of development time wasted playing college ball. But it doesn’t mean it’s what best for soccer in this country as a whole.

        Look at tennis – hardly anyone plays college tennis if they’re good enough to go pro. That’s the way soccer is headed and the sooner the better.

  16. JK is full of crap.

    England has the top league in the world. They are crap at developing talent and their national team sucks. The EPL has pro/rel.

    • Promotion relegation is not unique to England, it is the NORM. What MLS does is an aberration. Spain, Germany, Holland, Argentina – all have promotion/relegation system- and are fantastic at developing talent. From the sporting prospective, promotion/relegation is a much better system than the closed system with no competition to be in the top division. Pro/relegation forces clubs to field a better product either by buying or developing talent or both. And by the way, as much as English clubs suck at developing young players relative to Spain, Holland, Germany, they are much better than MLS academies. Southampton academy alone produced Gareth Bale, Walcott, Llalana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and many others. ManUtd’s class of 92 was loaded with talent. We’d be doing cartwheels if we had a player of Gareth Bale’s quality on the USMNT.

      • And the US is a huge country where soccer hasn’t “stuck” yet. No desire to return to the days of the original NASL.

    • How embarrassing to attack England. No one on Earth would claim we are ahead of England in category related to soccer. Just embarrassing the arguments made by MLS apologists

      20 years is enough time for your failed MLS monopoly/cartel whatever you want to call it.

  17. However at the same time Klinsmann points out that Green walking into a relegation fight, being large factor in him not seeing any minutes this year and perhaps regressing his development.

  18. This is all true, but I don’t think he fully realized the ramifications of his statements.

    In Germany most players already have a type of diploma, based on the educational path they took. He’s basically asking that all soccer players go all or nothing with no back up plan whatsoever. That’s fine in Germany that has a system that will take care of you for life. But we don’t really have that in the U.S. I’d love for the national team to get better, but is it really worth it? Say you join an academy at 15 and all you do is play soccer. Let’s even say the academy helps you get a high school diploma. Then you’re lucky enough to go pro at 17 or 18, but you’re paid poorly. If you get a career ending injury before you’ve had a chance to make big bucks you are scr$wed! All you know is soccer, you have no degree, no real job skills, etc. As a parent, a teacher, and a veteran, this sort of short-sighted thinking scares me.

    • Your proving his point though. When someone has a safety net behind them, it diminishes your hunger, no matter how much you think it doesn’t. When push comes to shove the one with the most hunger and drive wins out.

      • “When push comes to shove the one with the most hunger and drive wins out.”

        I’m not disagreeing with that at all. As I said in my post, I’d love to have a national team with better players.

        But at what cost?

        Personally, if my son told me he wanted to quit school and become a professional soccer player, I’d quickly tell him to reconsider.

        I’d tell him that for every Ronaldo, there are thousands of guys just like him that couldn’t make it (for whatever reason) and are living in poverty. And that might be okay for them because maybe soccer was their only possible ticket out of poverty.

        But this is a huge issue, and I don’t want to pretend that it isn’t.

        One of my students last semester told me he had a trial with LA Galaxy. He was a sharp kid, but was not a great student. He’s from a poor background and he’s straddling Mexican and US cultures/identities. I don’t know what the best answer is for that kid. Soccer is all he cares about. And maybe that’s all he will ever care about. And there will always be kids like that.

        But there’s more to it. I’d say all or nearly all the players on the German national team have career training beyond soccer and some kind of diploma. Then they have a country that will look after them if they really hit hard times. We don’t have that.

        But if all that matters is that we have a good national team, then yes, you are right. I am wrong.

        Personally, I’m fine with the system as it is. As soccer becomes more popular, kids will start getting better younger. Kids trying to escape poverty have two models to choose from (college and academy system). I don’t see any problem with that.

      • People with the ability and desire to play soccer professionally should do and they can always go back to school later. Literally millions of people get degrees later in life. This is not an all or nothing proposition. If a kid is marginal in terms of his ability to make it as a pro then, sure, college soccer is a good option. But not for the cream of the crop.

      • i agree with you 100% but.. at age 18 with budding soccer potential you can possibly go to school for free! — and thus our problem — and if you pass at this then its going to be the most expensive thing you ever purchase..

        hopefully education costs go down and young athletes recognize what you said.

      • It’s not going to more expensive than a house.

        And there are more cost effective ways to get a degree, i.e. going to county college for first two years, going to a state school etc.

      • This is a non argument. Pro contracts can easily guarantee to be the equivalent of college tuition should kid decide to college. If US military can guarantee a college tuition, so can pro teams. If kid can’t get a contract that beats a free tuition, then the kid should take the scholarship.

        But, remember, there would be no Messi in our McFranchise system. Look what Barcelona did for him as a kid, no one in the franchise system would do that for a kid here.

      • Europe also has a “soccer economy” (and extremely cheap vocational education if someone needs to start over), so there are lots of coaching and training jobs available to those with connections. We don’t have that.

      • The problem here is not college sports. Colleges are perfectly acceptable academy learning environments from which kids could develop into world class soccer players.

        The problem… and let no one change the subject here… is NCAA. Their rules on playing time, their rules on seasonality… their rules on games.

        Universities have no intrinsic restrictions on how many hours a kid can play soccer… or whether he can be a “professional” or not. it is ALL NCAA b*lls*it. Let kids go to colleges, just remove the restrictions on playing time, practice time, seasonality, payment, etc. that stunt the development of our best players.

        Also… trust me when I say that a true college league, full year, with a small playoff at the end… and real money. Man, look at what boosters do for US football. Imagine that kind of investment in Soccer! no one would ever win another world cup… it would be US forever.

    • He’s not saying everyone should have no backup plan but elite players should not be wasting time in college. Millions of people go back to school and get their degrees and so can anyone whose career in soccer doesn’t work out. The career span of a professional soccer player is pretty small and wasting four years of it not developing is a huge price to pay. But who am I to argue with a “parent, teacher and veteran?”

      • Probably because his Dad has millions and there’s no need for him to make money. Same reason Mariano Rivera’s son is going to college even though he’d be a high draft pick if decided to play pro baseball. Plus, who knows if young Klinsmann is good enough Maybe he’s not. The situations of these young men are not in any way typical.

      • Drive is drive, and I don’t see why it should be tied to the amount of money that your dad has. Does he want to be a professional, or not? Does he want to be the best he can be, or not?

        His dad being a millionaire should actually encourage him to chase the soccer dream. If he doesn’t make it, he can rest on his dad’s laurels/monies or go back to school at that point.

        “Who knows if young K is good enough?” Who knows if any 17 year old is good enough? That is why you have to test yourself in a professional setting, right?

        There is a huge contradiction between Klinsmann’s words and his actions here.

      • Wow. I wonder how those “millions of people who go back to school and get their degrees” pay for it? With all their earnings from their “small career span”? Not unless you’re Bradley, Dempsey, or Altidore. And when they graduate and finally start making money, it will be years behind the kids they went to school with.

        And college soccer was a complete waste of time for coaches like Arena or Porter, and players like Reyna?

        Pete’s point was there might be more to lose in the US if the soccer dream doesn’t work out, which it won’t for the vast majority.

      • Those guys came up at a time when we didn’t have the options we have today, like MLS. And yes, college soccer is now pretty much a waste if you want to be a top player. Not that some players can’t overcome that lost development time but it sure doesn’t help.

    • Always the option to coach in the youth club system for peanuts. Big money set aside for those with English accents.

    • Plus the cost of education. In the US, it is very expensive. In Germany (and most of Europe), not as many kids go to university and those who do, do not incur the kind of cost of university education. Even at the cheapest levels, it cost over 10K a year in the US (unless you get a scholarship) whereas it costs almost nothing in Germany (essentially the cost of room and board which is really cheap). On top of that, the elite soccer players in America get free rides.

  19. If pro/rel makes the teams at the top and bottom of the table compete for something with meaning (which is not always the case as evidenced by the EPL this year), what does it do to the mid-table teams. Again, in the EPL, a good handful of teams had absolutely nothing to play for one way or the other for the last month of the season.

    The playoff system probably keeps just as many teams “playing for something” than pro/rel does. It’s just that it is the middle of the pack teams that are fighting — for the last playoff spots — instead of the bottom of the table teams.

    I am not against pro/rel necessarily, but we are clearly a ways away from being able to actually implement it, and I don’t have a ton of faith that it would be a game changer in terms of fan interest or player development.

    • To rebut my own comment, I can see the true benefit of a pro/rel system being for the second tier. If those teams have an opportunity to move up, it could change the way they approach their team and business model. Still not convinced it makes total sense though since this scenario also presents challenges for the lower tiers that are not good.

      • ZERO truth to the straw man argument that pro/rel hurts lower divisions. ZERO.

        The franchise system kills not only teams, but leagues as well. LITERALLY entire minor leagues disappear when the top flight is a closed league.

        Don’t believe that? Just google something like “defunct minor league basketball/baseball/football/hockey teams.” Then Google the same for clubs in pro/rel countries.

        The franchise system KILLS minor league teams. Eviscerates them annually.

      • Dude, you might want to read again. I said that the major benefit I see is to the lower tiers…

        To your other point about the franchise system killing minor league teams, that is not true at all. Look at baseball. For a soccer example look at USL and how they have benefitted from an allegiance with MLS franchises.

      • Sorry, got lost by the argument-rebuttal nature of your posts.

        You are flat wrong, minor league baseball teams disappear constantly – one might argue because they are not playing for anything. I’m not in front of desktop right, but just google it.

        USL actually makes my point, all those new teams joined because they think it is a path to MLS and advertise that they will be MLS one day. USL has grown because it is marketing itself as a path to MLS. If there were an open system there would be more investment because of teams’ belief in the potential of moving up to first division.

      • Minor league baseball players salaries are paid by the major league club. Minor league teams have limited expenses.

      • Whether or not they are subsidized by MLB is not relevant. Minor league baseball is a huge attraction in this country. The facilities alone are impressive, and while they might change affiliations, teams in the AAA, AA, A don’t go under very much, especially when you consider just how many there are around the country. I don’t think that USL cities are trying to move up to MLS — their markets just don’t make sense for it in the vast majority of the cases. They seem perfectly content to be a second tier and work with MLS in that capacity.

      • Right, they don’t go under because another entity pays all the salaries of the players. How that isn’t relevant is beyond me.

        Independent minor leagues, where the teams have to pay their own way, have teams go under all the time.

      • No offense intended, but you are clearly not aware of what is happening in USL if you don’t think USL teams want in MLS.

        As for minor league teams, don’t limit yourself to baseball, applies to all other sports as well – what happened to the CBA? As old, if not older, than NBA and poof gone over night.

      • Okay, so promotion and relegation would turn these minor leagues into symbols of stability overnight?

    • The EPL/BL/Serie A “always have something to play for” mantra is driven partly by the number of competitions that teams are also competing for. If MLS had pro/rel without playoffs, you only have the title chase, relegation battle and CCL berths to fight for. Fewer games might “mean something” than under the current system.

    • imho i feel the pro/rel system can coincide with the playoff system. perhaps the playoff would only be in the top league (MLS) thus teams will have something to play for at the top and bottom of each league and the ‘top of the top’ get the added bonus of MLS cup (kinda similar to CL or Europa as an incentive for EPL teams fighting for the top 4 or 6.)

  20. “The risk for club investors to all of a sudden play in the second league would be too high.”

    This is the key comment. I would say he’s just kind of saying “it would be cool,” not a serious call for instituting it as he realizes it’s not possible.

    In other words, it’s a small, nothing comment not worthy of either hysteria or praise.

      • There is a HUGE difference between investing in a team/league where relegation already exists and investing in a team/league and having relegation added later.

        I would have thought this was obvious, but I guess not for everyone.

      • The investors not interested in it can leave then, and new ones will come in. Goodbye Mr. Kraft.

      • You guys know that relegated teams don’t go out of existence right? They can, and often do, can promoted back.

      • In order for pro/rel to exist, you need the stamp of approval of MLS and its owners. Owners that have invested large sums. That are presently recruiting and carefully evaluating other owners to invest 100 million to play in the league. That they would willingly increase the risk to their investment and create an end around into the league, by teams from a second division filled with non vetted poor ownership, with teams with very poor stadiums/infrastructure is way naive- frankly would be idiotic. The return/upside is minimal and completely overstated by proponents- particularly from the vantage point of an investor. Shall we add the repercussions of recent demise of traffic sports/thier prominent role in the second division to the list of reasons why pro/rel will happen no time soon- probably never.

      • You left out the part where they come back so weak they can never win.

  21. Totally agree with JK on this one. Not sure we have a viable enough second division yet to implement pro/rel but I don’t see any reason why say 20 years from now we couldn’t an MLS2, meaning MLS consisted of 2 20 team divisions with 2 or 3 teams promoted/relegated each year. I know the usual arguments against but I’m not convinced. There’s no case for American exceptionalism here, just like we didn’t need countdown clocks or breakaway shootouts or any of the other nonsense MLS started out with.

    • We essentially have an MLS 2 right now with USL. And we have a round-about promotion protocol in place where teams that show promise in the lower divisions can be granted MLS status, but if soccer continues to grow at the rate it’s growing at now I think market demands will force American soccer into some brand of pro/rel.

      I think your 20 year timetable is reasonable.

      • +1 mls survives on expansion its the logical next step. 20 years sure.. i wouldn’t mind sooner! but a lot of second div growth and business planning still needed.

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