By staff writer:
SANTA MONICA, Calif. Major League Soccer commissioner, Don Garber made a statement this week, supporting his oft-stated view that up-and-coming American prospects will get more opportunities by staying in MLS.
“MLS gives players an opportunity to play day in and day out and lead a team and get lots and lots of reps, as opposed to going overseas to test their courage and test their mettle and maybe not playing,” said Garber, speaking to a meeting of Associated Press Sports Editors.
Garber’s views are in stark contract to those of USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann who won the World Cup as a player with Germany and plied his trade as a striker in the Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Premier League, has regularly encouraged American players to test themselves in Europe’s top leagues.
The opposing viewpoints of two of the most powerful men in U.S. soccer represent the dilemma faced by many of young, upcoming American prospects. One example is Jordan Morris, the former Stanford striker who spurned an offer from Bundesliga side, Werder Bremen to join the Seattle Sounders.
The 21-year-old has scored one goal in six appearances for the Sounders. Not a bad return for a player who’s just gone pro. But compare Morris to Christian Pulisic, the 17-year-old American who’s just scored his first Bundesliga goal for Borussia Dortmund and has earned a regular spot in the starting lineup.
Morris will be turning out for one of the top teams in MLS. However, Pulisic will be competing for top honors in Germany and getting experience playing in the UEFA Champions League.
Garber may be right about the relatively easy opportunities for players who stay in MLS. But while many may disagree with Klinsmann on any number of issues, it’s hard not to agree with the former German National Team coach’s view that, in order for American soccer to truly progress, we need more Christian Pulisics out there, testing themselves at the very highest levels of the game.