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Q&A

With a lull between DCU's maniacal moves and several months (or years or decades) until the USSF decides on a full-time head coach, I figured this would be a good time to get all interactive and answer about a dozen pressing questions from the masses. (Fear not: My live online chats on washingtonpost.com will resurface this spring.)

So drop your inquiries onto this thread by midnight tonight (Thursday) and I'll pick a handful of good ones to answer Friday. Got it?

FYI, DCU stadium questions will be answered with a string of my favorite letter that appears very late in that alphabet thing. Consider yourself warned.

By Steve Goff  |  January 25, 2007; 9:17 AM ET
Categories:  Q&A  
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Comments

A three-part question:
1. Is DC any closer to signing the South American players they've been chasing for the past few weeks?

2. If so, can we expect them to be signed or announced before training camp begins?

3. Can you provide us faithful readers with a few hints about who DC is targeting?

Thanks for the great info and giving us something to look forward to in this lull period of the offseason!

Posted by: Jason | January 25, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Any chance Tommy Soehn will be switch to a 4-4-2 (with Gros possibly dropping back to a wingback position) if United are unable to land a new winger to replace Freddy and Donnet?

Also, did United make a conscious decision to "go large" with their draft picks this year, or did they just happen to draft a bunch of players who don't really fit into the team's traditional Lollipop Guild mold?

Posted by: EdTheRed | January 25, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Player-wise, what is DC United most urgent need most at this point? Another big-time forward? Maybe some more help on the backline?

Posted by: Ron | January 25, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

With all the discussion over what's hindering MLS' progress, I feel one critical and often-overlooked issue is OFFICIATING. Performance of soccer refs will always be a subjective, controversial topic. And the turmoil around officiating at WC06 proves it's difficult to get it right even at the highest levels.

But what's the real deal with MLS refs these days? Aren't there still way too many games in which the officiating is embarrassingly amateurish? Why don't players/coaches/journalists comment more? How experienced are our refs? What are they paid? Are they struggling to grasp the unique style of MLS play? And what can be done to improve their performance?

Posted by: speculation | January 25, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

How do you think Donovan and Beckham will interact? Will playing with someone like Beckham finally challenge Donovan to bring his game up a notch? The announcers during Denmark game, including Arena, certainly thought that Donovan needs to prove himself in big matches. Does having a big name/former EPL player help LD in this improvement or should he still try to play abroad?

Posted by: DC fan | January 25, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

What are the feelings of the coaches and top brass at DCU about their unfulfilled positions as it relates to overall team performance in the CCC and spring training/preparing the team for the regular season? I'm assuming they didn't plan on having this many gaps this late into the process. Are they worried it will affect the team's performance at all, since players may not have enough time to gel? Any sort of contingency plans being drawn up in case they can't get who they want in time?

Posted by: L St | January 25, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

MLS Confidential at Soccer America is floating a Beasley back to MLS (Salt Lake). They also suggest that Houston is entertaining trade offers for Brad Davis.

Hmmm, left side midfielder. Can you think of any local teams that wear black that could use a left side midfielder of the quality of either Beasley or Davis?

The serious questions are: why would Beasley leave Europe for Utah and why would Houston trade away the most underrated player in MLS?

Posted by: Cubicle | January 25, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Superliga:

1. Do you have any sense of how the team feels about being involved in this competition? More directly, do they consider it to be a distraction from the league?

2. Any word on the location of the SuperLiga match between United and Houston?

Posted by: Eric | January 25, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

What is the status on Matias Donnet? The roster depth on wide midfielders doesn't seem that strong, so why wouldn't United keep him? He's got professional pedigree and is only 26 years old. Christian was a blessing to this team in the way he improved the roster with an immediate impact, but not all imports can do that at an end of the season introduction to a new team and league. If his conditioning didn't improve by the end of training camp, then I could see him being cut, but the exit door right now seems a bit premature. Please clue me in, thanks.

Posted by: Dominic | January 25, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Im hoping to get to Engerland in May; any suggestions on how to get tix to see Fulham or Reading, or any other teams with American players? Do they even have walk-up sales at Premier League games anymore?

Posted by: Dave | January 25, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

What is the status of getting a shirt sponsor for DCU? Any names of possibilities?

Posted by: Dirk C. | January 25, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Why wouldn't Bobby Boswell sign an extension with an option to get out if he gets some minimum transfer fee? Is United not willing to offer that?

Posted by: dcu_fan | January 25, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Are discussions still going on to get John Hendricks involved in the ownership group, or are they set with what they have now?

Posted by: pat | January 25, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Any idea when the MLS schedule will be announced? I'm specifically interested in knowing when the Galaxy will come to DC, for some strange reason! Will DC United open up all of RFK if demand for tickets for that game exceed the current amount available?

Posted by: Dsmac | January 25, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

With the re-signing of Brian Carroll, does this mean that Clyde Simms will be coming off the bench for another year, or are the new coaching staff looking to re-position him (perhaps as a defender in a 4-4-2), to get him into the starting 11?

Along the same vein of re-positioning players to take advantage of their best attriubtes, many fans seem to feel that Josh Gros' future lies as an outside defender. Have the coaches made the same evaluations many of the fans have regarding Josh Gros' crossing ability and his future on the attacking end of the field? Or do they feel he still has room to improve in that regard, and are willing to stick with him on the wing for now?

Posted by: SWWJ | January 25, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!

Posted by: DCAustinite | January 25, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

What are some of the stregths and weaknesses of Luciano Emilio's game? Is he a finisher (like Esky) or more of a creative type player (like Moreno)?

Also, how much do you sense the new ownership is willing to spend on a Designated Player?

Posted by: Mark | January 25, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I was thoroughly impressed by Kenny Cooper in his rookie year, and was impressed and satisfied to see his workrate as a sub vs. Denmark. Plus, he's friggin massive.

The new crop of MLS draftees all seem to be growing in size. Is this a random happening, or is this the start of seeing athletes who would normally play football/basketball/hockey making their way toward soccer as a viable sport?

Posted by: Dan | January 25, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

With the re-signing of Brian Carrol and the selection of Bryan Arguez in the draft, DC's deepest position seems to be defensive midfielder (Olsen, B. Carrol, Simms, J. Carrol, B. Arguez).

Any thoughts / hints of trading someone like Simms to get a forward?

Posted by: Marc | January 25, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Has the increase in matches shown on television led to a decrease in interest in the MLS? You can now follow teams in Europe pretty easily with the Internet and GolTV, FoxSC, Setanta, and other broadband services. I wonder if this taking a bite out of the MLS.

Posted by: Andrew | January 25, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I am a little worried about the huge (and I can't understate state this) huge emphasis MLS is putting on building soccer specific stadiums (SSS). I understand the desire to build SSS but I am worried that MLS doesn't seem to care at all about where these stadiums are located.

One of the main reasons to build SSS in the first place is to provide the fans with a great soccer experience. I think a huge part of that soccer experience is what people do before and after the game, and how they get there. Going to see Arsenal and Chelsea in London would be completely different if people had to drive 30 miles outside of the city and park in a huge suburban parking lot.

I would much rather see MLS teams in non-soccer specific stadiums in urban areas with good mass transit (ie: RFK) then teams in soccer stadiums in far out suburban towns (Galaxy, FC Dallas, new Fire stadium, potential new RSL stadium, etc.)

I was in Columbus a few weeks ago and struck by the terrible location of the Crew Stadium. And this was in direct contrast to the Columbus Blue Jackets arena which had a great, Camden Yards-style field in the downtown. Think of the difference between the Verizon Center and FedEx Field.

If I were MLS I would be requiring new stadiums to get built in locations with access to great public transit and with stuff to do nearby (bars, restaurants, etc) instead of merely parking. Thoughts?

Posted by: Diego R. | January 25, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

With DCU playing more matches this year (), is Soehn going to rest his starters/older players more than Nowak? And if he does, what younger players/rookies will be asked to step up?

Gomez and Moreno especially seem to run out of gas at times, and I'd like to see Soehn use more depth players for certain matches, kind of like Wenger using his reserves more in the League Cup.

Posted by: the cheat | January 25, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Since the 2006 talent pool for MLS Defenders and Goalies of the Year came from undrafted free agents, are there any similar trialists identified who will be attending DCU's pre-season camp?

Posted by: Eric Z | January 25, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

can you recap the MLS TV contract for this year? What channels and how often, etc. thanks!

Posted by: Ed | January 25, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Are there any MLS players out-of-contract that DC United might take a look at in the preseason. Squad-type players that have been released by their clubs.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: JayRockers! | January 25, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

How good is Mo Edu? And Seitz? Maryland has really built a program, huh?

Posted by: adams morgan | January 25, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

When is the Goff/Steinberg "Crossbar" Death Match?

Posted by: Bill Urban | January 25, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Any word on what Keith Tucker will do next? I watched that team with Hislop back in the day--probably the most entertaining college team I've ever seen.

Posted by: adams morgan | January 25, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I know you're not the Post film critic, but I'm curious about other ways to get through the off-season other than using this blog. So, what are must-see soccer movies? Have you seen Green Street Hooligans? Thoughts about Goal? Other movies?

Also, with the thing about Dana Leary, I understand he didn't get an invite to camp, but if he does, am I the only one who sees an uncanny resemblance between him and Robert Parrish? Could the moniker "Chief" stick?

Posted by: Grant | January 25, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

will the youth initiative include a residency program? do you think it should?

Posted by: hokie soccer fan | January 25, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's my question. I've read all I can find about Emelio, and it's underwhelming. Please tell me there's something to this guy that I haven't heard about, or that DCU has plans for a true high profile scorer. I mean, how is this better than the 15-20 injury free games your likely to get from Esky?

Posted by: Matt | January 25, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I'll second the question about the refs. To build a little on it, let's assume the refs are not good. Does the league or USSF admit this to themselves? If so, what are planning to improve the situation?

On another topic, what is the league's idea for the next few years on how to handle the almost-great U.S. player. I think the future of MLS during the "Beckham phase" will, in part, be based on the quality of play that newcomers see when they watch a game. That will depend on the rest of the players on the team beyond high-priced imports and USMNT guys. Is the league gearing up to keep these players? I'm not talking about MVPs and USMNT starters like Clint Dempsey, but rather the types who might slip away to lesser (but more lucrative) teams in Europe, such as younger versions of Steve Ralston, Jason Kreis, or Jeff Cunningham.

Posted by: Rob | January 25, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

How is Dominic Mediate recovering from his broken leg suffered last season versus the Galaxy? I haven't heard much about him in a while but he was starting to look promising before the injury.

Posted by: Marc | January 25, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Any news on Nicky Rimando? I heard something thru the grapevine but wanted to read your take on things.

Posted by: Chico | January 25, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

The Galaxy and MLS made international news twice with Beckham's arrival and the much less publicized new "Super Liga" competition with the top four clubs of MLS v Mexican League. Major league sports history is finally coming to pass with teams from south of the border.

Most of the sports and entertainment pundits got it right with Beckham; i.e. it's about revenue, not just the sport. Today the MLS differs from the Pele/NY Cosmos days of the old NASL because Beckham also sports the Hollywood look with a celebrity wife and an MLS that has stadiums and more good American players.

Yet it's a business decision involving a sport, not vice versa. To the contrary, the Super Liga will have long-term positive impacts on professional soccer. Interestingly but not surprisingly the Galaxy and Chivas de Guadalajara are involved despite the fact that neither made the top four in their respective leagues. Furthermore, former AEG club DC United will also participate. Thankfully, soccer expert Kevin Payne has become part owner with the recent sale of DC United although that was not nationally publicized.

Ultimately the winners will be those who reach out to the minority and largely Hispanic community, dealing with critical social issues and becoming part of the community market for long-term fan and brand loyalty. Former Galaxy and El Salvador standout Mauricio Cienfuegos who attended AEG/Beckham's press conference said as much publicly. Otherwise, it's a short ride for the quick buck.

MLS finally took the right step with the Mexican League. Now they have to follow up with the Central American and perhaps Caribbean teams. This has major economic, social and political implications here and abroad. Jorge Vergara, owner of Chivas and Saprissa (Costa Rica), are you listening?

Bruce Daniels
P.O. Box 3137
Running Springs, CA 92382
(909) 867 5879

Posted by: Bruce Daniels | January 25, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The MetroStars are making big moves - Bruce is in charge, Claudio is back, and they still have room for another international - plus they have some good young players and a new stadium on the way. Is DC's front office a little more concerned about what their rivals up north are up to?

Posted by: Bubba | January 25, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Great question from Diego R. about the stadiums. I agree with you completely, but on the other hand there are plenty of our countrymen who are apparently perfectly happy to "drive 30 miles outside of the city and park in a huge suburban parking lot." This could get into an ugly cyberspace debate, couldn't it . . . well, I hope our new stadium is on metro and I also shop at my local hardware store rather than the big box.

Posted by: gringo | January 25, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Diego R-

Are you currently in Urban Planning School?

That sounds like planner speak.

Posted by: Benny D | January 25, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Diego, great question and thoughts. Isn't part of what makes Anfield, Stamford Bridge and all the other stadiums in Europe partly so great is that they're nestled into cozy environs around them? It helps to give the game the brews with your mates atmosphere and makes it really interesting.

My thoughts, if anyone cares, is that those large, suburban parking lot stadiums are what we're used to in this country now, and acquiring the land makes sense for MLS teams because of their small cash flow. But should the Poplar Point plan work, or even better acquiring some of the land by North Capitol on H that's just lots now, you might see more support for the game and more of that atmosphere.

Love to hear Steve's thoughts on this.

Posted by: Grant | January 25, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Steven,
DCU is supposedly taking Concacaf seriously this time around, so to ensure peak performance they dealt away playmaker Freddy Adu to bring in the even more spectacular....zzzzzz?

Posted by: Nick | January 25, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The developmental salary has gone up. The minimum for senior roster players went up, thanks to the CBA. It's small progress, but progress nonetheless. Still, with DP salaries on the horizon, what do you think the MLSPU's strategy when the CBA is up in a couple of years? Will they push for more senior roster spots? Higher minimums? Both? Free agency?

Posted by: Brian | January 25, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Steve - now that you have a blog, it's already attracting blowhards like Bruce Daniels (above) that blabber on in the comments section like they have these great original ideas (and not even accurate in this case, since KP is not an owner of United at all) just so they can hear themselves talk.

Do you have l33t admin access to delete stuff like that that makes cool resources like this blog tiresome and difficult to read? Or do we just have to put up with it.

Or are you going to send him a postcard since he provided his address?

Posted by: Important Question | January 25, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Be careful what you ask for, yes?

What's happening with Ryan Nelsen? I know he had some kind of surgery over the summer, but Blackburn keeps signing defenders (or is rumored to be signing more defenders). Is Nelsen's injury career threatening? If not, and he's just out of favor for Rovers, would a certain local team in black be interested in reacquiring?

Posted by: Cubicle | January 25, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Cubicle,
I can field this one, so Goff doesn't have to, as I had the same question yesterday and decided to search for an answer.

Ryan Nelsen is now healthy and currently regaining his fitness and played 75 minutes in a reserve match this past week. The club looks for him to get a run out and return to the line-up in the coming weeks. Mark Hughes is very happy to have him back in the fold. Ryan remarked that he felt pretty good, and had no pain after the recent match.

Posted by: RE: Cubicle's question | January 25, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Goff, I'd love to see a discussion of the building of elite players from a young age through to a strong professional league. Foreign leagues have youth club teams that feed talent (Ajax's development program is impressive) but the U.S. has a terrible ODP structure in place that really is insufficient. What can MLS do to grow talent early? The 14-16 year old Convey's and Adu's need a serious place to play real matches before being thrown in over-their-head ir MLS matches.

As to Diego R.'s urban stadium--One man's hip urban stadium is another man's suburban stadium. When you live in the city you like Metro Accessible, when you live nowhere near Metro, you like parking lots just fine. You have to look at what makes sense financially and the specifics of each individual property. Either way, when it comes to D.C. zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | January 25, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Can we get Posh to be ESPN's on-field announcer?

Posted by: Becks | January 25, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I "THIRD" the question about officiating, especially "offside" calls. I was watching a Real Madrid game last weekend on Telemundo, and one of the side refs got beaned in the arm with a water bottle thrown by an irate fan after he called a Real player's goal offside. The poor schmuck was just doing his job.

What is the POINT of the offside rule, anyway? I mean, why should a defender even bother getting near an oncoming attacker if all he has to do is step aside, let the attacker pass him (and receive the ball from another player), and then get the ball back on a turnover via the side ref's offside call?

And then at the end of the game, if it's a championship match, the game is decided via penalty kicks, which, for all intents an purposes, are offside kicks, the ONE THING the players we prohibited from doing during the game itself -- i.e. kick the ball with no non-goalie defender between him and the goal.

God forbid you should see a midfielder do a fast break from his team's area, the crowd starts to roar, he gets a clear lane right around mid-field, then gets called offside two seconds later.

THIS is why soccer will never be that popular in the United States. Gimme Lacrosse any day.

Posted by: Juan-John | January 25, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

It seems like the US national team and fans consistently over-play/over-hype two kinds of players. The first would be "proven" players experiencing poor form. Renya, Pope, and Beasley come to mind from the last WC. None seemed to be doing much for their clubs and they all showed poorly in US games leading up to the Cup.

The other kind of player is of the "but they showed flashes of greatness once" variety. See E. Johnson, Ching, JOB (who I adored last time he was healthy, circa 2002). Maybe this was mostly Arena thing or is just universal to soccer/sports, but...

Will the US get past this with continued development and a deeper player pool? (Wasn't the player pool supposedly soooo much deeper than 2002?) Can we please not hype Mapp too much, yet?

Posted by: Dancy | January 25, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Question: 1) academic now, but how does Luis Robles' game compare to Shawn Crowe, and do we retain his rights after his time in Europe--and what kind of an impact might he have in Europe?

2) academic also: how does Boswell compare to Ryan Nelson at this stage of their tenure at DCU? Ryan is now captain and has adapted to international play, something you think Boswell hasn't proven yet.

3) While you can't name names, are you confident that DCU will get a wing player capable of starting and doing well at the MLS level and fit into MLS style of play?

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