If there's one characteristic that has defined Don Garber's 15-year rein as the commissioner of Major League Soccer it's "measured." In one hastily arranged 30-minute teleconference, he threw all that out the window.
The 57-year-old native New Yorker offered a full-throated defense of MLS, calling Jurgen Klinsmann's recent comments criticizing the league both "detrimental to the sport" and almost seemed to take the remarks personally.
"To think that we are not aligned with our national team coach is disappointing and personally infuriating and frustrating as hell," Garber said. "Frankly I don't think it is in line with the shared vision that this league has with the [U.S.] federation."
Garber also offered some strongly worded advice to the United States national team's head coach and technical director:
"I am demanding that [Klinsmann] refrain from making comments which are critical of our players and damaging to our league."
Garber also extended that advice to anyone who works for the league or is really associated with it in any kind of professional way.
The entire speech and subsequent question-and-answer session seemed entirely out of character for Garber, but seemed to come from a very real sense of frustration with comments Klinsmann made leading up to the recent United States friendlies. What really seems to have bothered Garber was Klinsmann's insinuation that both Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey have regressed since leaving Europe for MLS.
"There's nothing I can do about it," Klinsmann said. "I made it clear with Clint's move back and [Bradley's] move back that it's going to be very difficult for them to keep that same level that they experienced at the places where they were. It's just reality. It's just being honest."
Although Klinsmann never implied those players' moves were about money, Garber also took issue with any insinuation that their decisions were based on anything other than a desire to get more regular playing time. Both Dempsey and Bradley were facing uncertain futures at Tottenham and Roma, respectively, before they returned to MLS.
"I think it is incredibly judgmental for anybody to say that Michael Bradley or Clint Dempsey's sole motivation to come back to MLS was financial," Garber said.
Garber also apparently saw Klinsmann's criticisms as a growing trend, drawing a direct link to comments made about Landon Donovan's career and the decision to leave him off the World Cup roster.
"Landon should have been in Brazil," Garber said, adding Donovan's "treatment was inexcusable."