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Herzog: MLS didn’t listen to advice from Klinsmann

Though Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge of the U.S. Men’s National Team is over, residual drama from his time in charge remains.

Former USMNT assistant coach Andy Herzog elaborated on the relationship between Klinsmann, MLS, and commissioner Don Garber, stating that the latter groups had no interest in taking advice from Klinsmann, reports ESPN FC. While Klinsmann’s opinions towards MLS are well-known and controversial, they appeared to open a significant rift between the coach and the domestic league.

“MLS, the American league, is getting better and better, but Jurgen wanted to help them and give them some information, some inputs, where they were making some mistakes,” Herzog said. “Jurgen said, ‘Yeah, we need to do this, this and this better,’ and this was the reason why he started to have a fall-out with the [commissioner] of the league, Don Garber.

While Klinsmann and Herzog were ultimately fired for the lack of on-field results, the rift between their staff and U.S. Soccer led to several public criticisms from both sides during the German’s tenure. While news of the rift is nothing new, the level of fallout that Herzog describes adds perspective to the Klinsmann era.

“Jurgen wanted to help the league keep improving but [MLS executives] were not happy and thought he was just criticizing everything,” added Herzog. “One point Jurgen was not happy with was that they were buying and overpaying over-aged former European superstars like crazy, but they have already found out that it is not a good way.

“And this was a big problem, because there was a big pressure from [Garber]. … When we lost a game, [Garber] came and said: ‘No, he’s criticizing our league and he’s making some mistakes, too.’ So this was a problem — a bad relationship between the American league and Jurgen.”


  1. While Klinnsman & Herzog have a point about “Over paying for Aging European Stars” there are other issues that continue to hold MLS, and subsequently the USNTs, back….
    1) Roster Size: Team depth seems to continue to be an issue with MLS teams. We constantly hear about the difficulty of keeping players healthy due to travel & weather conditions. Adding additional roster spots would potentially help address this issue.
    2) Youth Players: While I hate to give the Mexican League any props there is one thing they do that I wish MLS did. Namely institute a rule forcing clubs to have a certain number of youth players (Under 23) on the roster, and force them to actually play them. 10 years ago the Mexican National teams weren’t fairing well in international youth competitions, so the League forced teams to have young players and play them. Since then Mexico has steadily improved at all youth levels…and is now seeing improvement at the SR level too. Force clubs to invest in their Academies and develop players rather than just buying scraps from Europe.
    3) Salary Cap: The cap needs to be increased and/or other DP salary waivers type clauses need to be added. Make homegrown a greater write off….or add a US Youth International DP slot. I don’t want to continue buying/importing players….but find a way to get more of our quality young players to sign and playing for the league.

    • I think you leave out number of foreign players on the roster as well. Many nights there are more Argentine’s on the pitch than there are Americans and/or Canadians. I’ve been keeping an eye on the number of American and Canadians that see the pitch in MLS matches and it is usually 5 or 6 per team per match out of the 14 that play including subs. MLS likes to talk up its academies, but for the most part MLS teams are still filling their rosters with players trained in other countries. I think its good for the quality of the league, but its not good for US Soccer development.

      What Klinsmann said and what Herzog is saying is true, US players can develop better by playing in the top leagues in Europe and paying big money for say Gio dos Santos instead of playing guys like Bradford Jamison, Jose Villareal, and Jack McBean is bad for US Soccer. Just as Klinsmann wasn’t hired to promote MLS and shouldn’t have been criticized for his criticism Garber wasn’t hired to make US Soccer better. Both benefit from the other being successful, but both have their own bottom line in mind first.

  2. those old players filled stadiums, and a team not susceptible to relegation appealed to investors. Having said that, during Klinnsman’s early years many MLS team owners were notorious for under-investing just to keep costs down and the return from league high. Toronto and Seattle were paying everyone else’s bills. Things changed with KC. Once they took that step to invest a great deal and witness the return, other teams starting looking at that model. There’s always the possibility that bottom feeders will increase in number- teams that don’t invest and are only interested in having their cost of operation fulfilled by league-wide payouts- which is something the relegation system is meant to discourage. Having payouts from TV contracts tied to such things as the increase in team investment (infrastructure and player quality) should be considered in the future as a way to fulfill what relegation aims to solve.

  3. The world according Klinsmann. His ideas were failing with the NATs and he openly encouraged young players not to play in MLS. He left a very good player off his WC roster while dressing others that had no business being there. Why would MLS listen to anything he said when he was so clueless on coaching, managing and even selecting players? Herzog was just a JK stooge

  4. Honestly its hard to say that we’re even past buying over aged players today. David Villa’s been great, Kaka’s at least, been great spokesman and face in an expansion city. Drogba even brought some excitement to Montreal. While at the same time, Dallas has one of the best young teams in the league and there stadium is often half empty.

    Just saying different cities and owners just have different needs, to be addressed.

    • I have heard that they put Toyota Park in a terrible location and many fans deliberately avoid it. Dallas has always been a poorly attended city, dating back to the days of the old NASL too, so who knows?

  5. cmon herzog, thats the best you could come up with? overpaying aging players? he was one!

    pulled right from his wikipedia page: “After returning to Rapid in 2002, he decided to end his career with Major League Soccer franchise Los Angeles Galaxy in 2004.”

    • I couldn’t find the salary of Herzog in his year with Galaxy, but it was no where near the numbers aging stars are being paid today. It was also a very different time in the league, before academies and before DPs. Freddy Adu was the highest paid player with 500,000 guaranteed and John Spencer was the highest paid foreigner at 311,000. Clint Dempsey the rookie of the year that year after being drafted 8th made 42,000.

  6. I wonder what Klinsmann’s position was regarding the salary cap vs. DP money? I don’t recall seeing him make a public remark on that, but I think the league needs to show more creativity in that regard and to definitely increase the cap. There are exceptions, of course, but I think Klinsmann was generally right on the overage stars. Too many have flamed out while younger players like Valeri and Giovinco have been great additions.

    • There is no need to wonder or guess. I’m sure Klinsmann would have wanted the salary cap higher and for teams to spend more. But that’s an outsider’s perspective. The people running the league (owners/commish) clearly prefer to keep costs down and make sure the league is on solid footing. Every single debate around MLS comes down to this principal: being realistic vs fans’ desires. Pro and Relegation, switching to international calendar, etc; these are all things that would clearly be bad for business so obviously MLS avoids them, even though some fans and Klinsmann would clearly want these changes.

      And there have been many successful older DPs. It’s probably pretty equal down the middle between success and flopp. For every Giovinco there is a Keane.

      • I was with you until that last sentence. “For every Giovinco, there is a Keane.” You’re saying Robbie Keane was a flop?! You can argue if you want that he wasn’t worthy of that MVP award. Or that he didn’t play much his final season. But the dude scored 83 goals in 125 games for LAG. On that basis alone, he was an unmitigated DP success.

      • I think he is saying for every young DP who has succeeded there are also “aged” DPs like Keane who were successful.

    • As I have suggested before, it’s not just how much you spend, it’s how you spend it. Instead of limiting big money to DP’s, I think MLS would be far better off if it allowed teams to take DP level money and add it to their salary cap. For the price of 1 big money DP, a team could get 5 very good players. For example, Lampard, Gerrard, and Pirlo all made around $6 million per year. I think the teams that paid them would have been better off spending that money on 5 or 6 players. NYCFC spent $12 million per year on Lampard and Pirlo. Imagine how much better they would have been if they had spent that money on 4 or 5 good defenders and another striker to go along with Villa. BWP started out at $92,000 and slowly climbed up to $660,000 in 2015 and $710,000 last year. This is why the rigid rules for DP’s is not good for the league.

      • How about instead of a salary cap, you impose a team minimum payroll equal to the amount you proposed. Allow teams to spend above it, but impose a luxury tax above a certain amount. This way, teams would be incentivized to get more medium priced quality players than overpaid, overage name players.

      • Super Nintendo–There are probably several different ways to achieve it and your idea is one. I think that the current approach is more for show than quality and MLS has advanced to the point that they no longer need the famous old guys to bring in fans. Consider that the two MLS semi-finalists in the CCL, Dallas and Vancouver, didn’t have any real superstars (I wouldn’t call Montero one), RSL, which lost in the finals a few years back didn’t, and the teams that have spent a lot of aging superstars, rarely get far in that competition.

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