By FRANCO PANIZO
Never one to shy away from letting his opinions be heard, Jurgen Klinsmann has a bone to pick with MLS regarding its scheduling.
Namely, he does not like that the league has games during FIFA international fixture dates.
Klinsmann touched on a topic on Tuesday that has been discussed at length in recent years by saying that MLS needs to find a way to avoid playing league fixtures on dates designated for international matches. The U.S. head coach said those dates are made to help build national teams and that there should not be the tug-of-war that often comes from MLS clubs looking to keep their players.
That is especially true during the fall months when the battle for playoff spots ramps up, and is affecting Klinsmann now more than ever as a growing number of his regulars ply their trades in MLS.
For Klinsmann, the current setup simply “is not working anymore” and is a “lose-lose” situation.
“Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, whoever plays in MLS, the foreign guys, they all go,” Klinsmann told reporters in Prague. “But I compromise my own players? It’s because the coaches say, ‘We need them now badly to go towards the playoffs. Now it’s really going to get hectic. ‘There’s something wrong, then, because the other nations, they benefit from the professional league in MLS. They call them because it’s a FIFA fixture date.
“Therefore our wish is (that MLS) extend the season,” Klinsmann added. “Obviously you get 21 teams next year. Start earlier, finish later, but open these slots for the national team program.”
Klinsmann used a recent conversation he had with now-former Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen to highlight his point. Klinsmann said that he wanted to summon midfield ace Michael Bradley, but Nelsen was reluctant to let the veteran player go despite technically being required to release Bradley, per FIFA rules, because of the club’s current position in the Eastern Conference.
It is not just the full national team, however, that Klinsmann feels is being limited by MLS having games on international fixtures.
“You want to not only build your senior national team to the highest level, but also at the same time — this is what all other teams do — you have your U-23 camp, they have U-20 camps, they have U-18 camps with games, meaningful games,” said Klinsmann. “Those slots are made to develop your national team program, globally. In the past we compromise that because we want MLS to do well, and we want to do well as well.”
Klinsmann clearly wants some change, because as things stand now, the U.S. is not optimally benefiting from the international dates like other nations.
What do you make of Klinsmann’s stance? Agree that the MLS season should start earlier and finish later so that league games are not played on international dates? How feasible would a break during the MLS playoffs be in November, when there are international dates scheduled?
Share your thoughts below.