U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann blasts MLS season scheduling
PRAGUE -- U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann reiterated his call for MLS to observe FIFA's international fixture dates, saying the league's approach is "lose-lose."
While MLS has gone to a vastly reduced schedule during international tournaments like the World Cup and Gold Cup, it typically has played through FIFA's dedicated windows for friendlies and even World Cup qualifiers. The primary reason is that such an approach would require MLS to extend its season, which would force the league to play more games during the winter months.
But Klinsmann has his reasons for observing the FIFA dates. Speaking to reporters ahead of Wednesday's friendly against the Czech Republic, Klinsmann said that MLS' approach puts him at a competitive disadvantage in that other CONCACAF countries are able to call in their top players while he is often forced to negotiate with MLS coaches as to which players can be released.
"Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, whoever plays in MLS, the foreign guys, they all go," he said. "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."
Klinsmann added that with the national team increasingly being composed of MLS players, the league's decision to play through international fixture dates is making his job even more difficult.
"It's not working anymore," he said. "Therefore our wish is [that MLS] extend the season -- obviously you get 21 teams next year -- start earlier, finish later, but open these slots for the national team program."
Klinsmann's desire to have MLS observe FIFA fixture dates goes beyond just the impact to the senior team. He said he would also like to use the dates to hold camps for the various youth national teams, but if he's already taking senior national team players away from MLS, those clubs will need to use younger players.
"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," he said. "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."