Former United States coach Bruce Arena is denying claims that the United States favored MLS players with its player selection during World Cup qualifying, saying those claims are “completely false”.
Midfielder Danny Williams made comments during an interview with NBC Sports last week said that there was belief that “political things going on behind-the-scenes” influenced call-ups in favor of MLS players.
Williams also questioned why he was never called up by Arena in 2017.
The United States failed to qualify for the World Cup. Arena resigned in October.
Arena rejected those claims, according to ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle, saying that; “we took who we felt were the best players, regardless of where they played. The statements are completely false.”
“I think there are too many political things going on behind-the-scenes,” Williams said in the interview with NBC Sports.
“I wasn’t really close enough with the team for that amount of time so I can’t really talk, or give too much information, because I don’t really know about what happened.”
“Obviously I spoke to the boys when I was in Portugal. Everybody has a different view. I heard from a few people that they tried to ‘market the MLS’ a bit more, in the qualifying games and get a name for the MLS.
“At the end of the day it shouldn’t be about that. It should be about quality and bringing the best players and having a plan. That is it.”
Williams, who was born and raised in Germany and has never played in MLS is still wondering why Arena never called his name.
“It was frustrating but nobody really ever talked to me or gave me a reason [for not recalling me],” said Williams, who was unavailable for the October qualifiers with a foot injury.
“I didn’t even know what the reason was, you know? Some people might have said ‘you only play in the [English] Championship’ or whatever, but I think the Championship is still a strong league and I think you could see last year with Newcastle and even the teams down there now they are big teams, big, big clubs and good football players.
“I could never understand why I was [not] invited because I think in the four years at Reading I did, basically, everything in my power to show the world that I am still on a good level and I can perform. Obviously I was a bit unlucky with injuries but in my opinion nobody really spoke to me.
“Some people wanted to play the MLS guys a little more but whatever, but Bruce Arena emailed me and said ‘you’re in the picture but I haven’t really seen you.’ And I thought that was a bit strange because you must know your players, don’t you? Especially because I am not 18.
“I was around the camp but I read something where he said the players Klinsmann invited were German-Americans, I don’t know what it was, but I felt a bit weird about it because I played on a high level for basically now eight or nine years.
“But again, I didn’t really want to say anything because, what could I do? I can’t influence if a manager likes me or not but I think we could all get a fair chance. It was a bit weird but hopefully now that I’m in the Premier League, that will change.”