Lots of Questions Answered
Q: Do you think RSL will really be sold and leave that area? Implications of RSL fiasco for DC getting a stadium built?
A: You mean that stadium groundbreaking in Salt Lake with Beckham last summer was all for show? Shocking. Salt Lake is a long way from DC, in so many ways. St. Louis is a possible destination for RSL. So is the trash heap. Here is a good story from St. Louis.
Q: What's the latest word on further expansion teams? Will it happen at the end of 2007?
A: St. Louis, Philly, Cleveland, Bay Area are all in the running. I would be surprised, though, if another expansion team is announced this year. Maybe the league will just contract the RSL disaster (in every way) and get back to an even number of teams, then add two new clubs in '08 and two more in '10.
Q: Do you get the sense that DCU is going after younger talent in South America or older, more experienced players like Emilio with the final two signings? And do you see any of the younger players (rookies, reserves) switching positions more this season due to a lack of players in certain positions?
A: Younger and older, based on cost. With its budget, United appears to be pursuing an experienced, older player and a younger, cheaper player. (Sorry, no names yet.) Preseason just started; too early to say how players will be used, but I can't imagine many major positional changes.
Q: It's been noted that Galaxy ticket prices have gone up now that they have Beckham, do you think other teams will do the same? Fans like MLS because tickets are cheap, and the players are accessible and attitude free, do you see this changing now that Beckham (and other higher profile players) are coming?
A: Ticket sales help offset salary expenses, so if there is a major influx of expensive talent, yes, prices will go up. Player accessibility probably won't change, although I don't think you'll see Beckham wandering the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott in the Meadowlands this summer.
Q: Apparently Soehn doesn't speak Spanish. How's Christian Gomez's English these days? Stuff about soccer being the universal language aside, hopefully they can speak to each other without Jaime or Francisco Tobar around. As a monolingual person myself I'm always interested how difficult the language barrier is for teams like DC.
A: Interestingly, Soehn and Emilio communicate in German (Soehn is the son of German immigrants, Emilio played in Germany for four years). Gomez's English is not good, but a player of his experience and stature does not require much instruction. When necessary, Moreno can translate. Everyone else speaks English.
Q: What are the main differences in approach you've seen from Soehn so far?
A: The intensity level on and off the field is a little lower.
Q: Will Jamil Walker fall back into favor with the first team this season? It seems that Nowak was unhappy with his performance towards the middle/end of the last season. Will Soehn give him another shot?
A: Barring an unexpected move, Walker will be on the roster. Whether he plays depends on his performance in practice and how he responds in game situations. Last year, he was hardly effective.
Q: Why have we not heard anything from Peter Nowak since he left DC United? If I recall correctly, he not only did not show at the press conference announcing his departure but he did not release a statement and has not been quoted anywhere since. His silence fuels my suspicion that DC United wasn't sorry to see him go.
A: Peter did not appear at the press conference because he felt it was Soehn's moment and he didn't want to become a distraction. He did issue a statement in the press release but declined interview requests. The front office liked Peter, but some of the players seemed to grow tired of his rigidness.
Q: What do you know about Crystal Palace USA?
A: Third-division team, backed by the English club, that will play at Cal Ripken's baseball stadium north of Baltimore and eventually move into its own facility. No players have been signed yet. Check out their Web site at www.crystalpalaceusa.com
Q: How much longer do you see Moreno being a day-in, day-out player? He always seems to wear down toward the end of the season, so will he be used a little more sparingly this season? Is there an order of succession as far as the armband goes? Moreno to Olsen to who, Carroll, Boswell, etc?
A: Moreno definitely wore down last season, but seems healthy and refreshed this year. Jaime's form and fitness will dictate playing time. As for the captaincy, Olsen and Boswell are logical successors.
Q: International Transfer Window slamming shut and we have a Brazilian to show for our efforts. Now what?
A: MLS teams have until April 15 to acquire foreign players.
Q: Has there been any talk of/momentum in favor of moving to a single table format, effectively getting rid of the ridiculous East-West conferences?
A: It was proposed this offseason, but rejected.
Q: Did you get a chance to find anything new about DC's shirt sponsor? Do you think every team will have a shirt sponsor at the beginning of the year?
A: No and no.
Q: With the end of the European winter transfer window, what is the status of Jay Nolly?
A: Nolly's search for a club overseas has been so far unsuccessful. He might've really messed up because DCU is losing interest fast and may start looking for an experienced keeper to back up Perkins (unless they think rookie Shawn Crowe or second-year Ryan McIntosh is up for the job).
Q: List of players going to Florida? Any tryouts down there?
A: Everyone in camp this week, with the possible exception of an invitee, is expected to travel to Florida. There might be one or two longshot candidates brought in, as well, in Florida.
Q: What are your views on the Gomez non-signing?
A: At his age, you would think he'd take the 325K offer for each of the next two seasons. Perhaps he feels he could do much better if he left after this season.
Q: It seems more and more of the young American players are trying their luck in Europe first before settling for MLS. Is this a push from their agents or from the players themselves? Or is this what always happened and is only getting more press because of MLS/soccer's better coverage?
A: The allure of playing in Europe is powerful -- the history, the competition, the money. Some American players feel they belong in Europe, others are more comfortable in MLS.
Q: Which players can we expect from Europe to play vs. Mexico next Wednesday?
A: Onyewu, Howard and Beasley are on their way. I'd imagine Dempsey, Spector and Bocanegra will come too. We'll find out for sure soon.
Q: Will the United youth program include a residency program in the near future? What do most players that make $12,900/yr do to make more money?
A: No residency program, just local players training and playing for the youth teams regularly. The guys making little money work camps, youth programs, etc.
Q: Are Gooch and Boswell likely to be the U.S. central defenders for 2010? Does Boswell have the speed for international play?
A: Gooch definitely, Boswell we'll see. He's got a long way to go in the international game.
Q: I know this isn't your call, but why does hockey get more coverage in the Post than soccer? Regretably, I can understand why this is true re: baseball, football and basketball, but hockey?
A: The NHL gets more coverage than MLS because the league has more history, more teams, more games and a greater national following. However, Caps and United coverage in the Post are comparable. It might appear the Caps receive more coverage because they play three games a week and, as a result, get onto the front page midweek when there are fewer sporting events taking place. United usually plays on Saturdays, the busiest sports day of the week, and becomes a lower priority when competing for space with the Nats, NFL, college sports, etc. As for hockey and soccer in general, there is no comparison. We cover the World Cup and the qualifiers extensively, college soccer, the national team and women's soccer. When's the last time you saw a non-NHL, non-Olympic hockey story in the paper? Also, consider how many times United has been on the front page during the dead of winter this offseason. You never see that for the Caps during the summer.
Q: I would really like an update on David Stokes. He's been with us a good while, he is a native, and he has some raw talent. Will Soehn give him another chance? Is he out to prove himself this training camp?
A: Stokes went to Europe after last season looking for a team, but didn't sign. He is at United training camp without a contract and will have to make quite an impression to earn one of 18 senior roster spots (he had been a developmental player, which made him exempt from salary cap and senior roster issues).
Q: Do you think Gooch hurt his chances for a long-term deal this summer given the way he and his agent played teams off each other...and the way he revealed himself to be openly chasing paychecks, rather than a player committed to a club?
A: If he does well at Newcastle the next few months, he'll make the permanent move, and all is well. Otherwise, I'm sure some other Euro club will buy him. A young, athletic, 6-foot-4 central defender with World Cup experience is a commodity.
Q: Top 5 most important DCU players ever, in order:
1) Jaime Moreno
2) Ben Olsen
3) Marco Etcheverry
4) Eddie Pope
5) Christian Gomez
A: I'd go with, in order, Etcheverry, Moreno, Pope, Olsen and Gomez.
Q: Are you surprised by the amount of activity on this blog? I mean 45 questions, that's pretty amazing.
A: The mothership is pleased. The bog weeps. Keep reading and contributing.
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