Q. Surprised that Freddy Adu wasn't called into the U23 camp?
A. Not surprised. RSL wanted him in camp as soon as possible -- and as much as possible -- to begin working with his new team. Several other u-20 players were left off the u-23 roster because of MLS demands. Keep in mind, too, that many u-20 guys will be away from their MLS teams for an extended period this summer for the World Cup in Canada.
Q. I just saw something that links DCU with a possible Chelsea partnership. Something similar to the Rapids/Arsenal deal, I think. Have you heard anything about this?
A. Yes, there appears to be something to it, mainly for marketing purposes. Chelsea, the brand name, needs a strong presence in the United States. What would DCU get out of it? Probably a visit from Chelsea for a friendly every few years and perhaps the opportunity to train at their facilities in England. Again, nothing has been finalized. Remember that DCU-Bayer Leverkusen alliance a few years ago? That didn't exactly yield much.
Q. Do you tailgate before DCU games? Will I see you with the Barra Brava or Screaming Eagles before a game this season?
A. I'm a reporter, not a fan. When I'm at RFK, it's for work purposes only. Enjoy!
Q. Any updates on Daniel Karbassiyoon?
A. I've left a message with Karbassiyoon's agent, Craig Sharon, to check on his status. MLS is a possibility, but I'm not sure how much money the league would be willing to offer.
Q. Any updates on DCU securing a stadium?
A. Z...z...z...cough, ack, gag...sorry...zzzzzzzzzzzz. I'll believe it when I see it.
Q. Who is the best option at left back for a full-strength U.S. squad at the moment: Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce or Carlos Bocanegra?
A. Bornstein showed a lot of promise vs. Mexico, Pearce has Euro experience and Bocanegra is a proven veteran, although I like Bocanegra in the middle, not on the left, unless absolutely necessary. Maybe we'll see Eddie Lewis again?
Q. Why hasn't MLS attracted Italian players. We've got South Americans, Africans, Brits, Canadians, et al.
A. For the same reason MLS does not have any Spaniards, quality Brits, Germans or Dutch players: money. MLS can't afford these guys.
Q. What will it actually take for Sunil Gulati to give Bradley the job? Will he wait until this summer to decide? Quick side question: With Bradley having New Jersey roots, does he have any ties to Rossi which could persuade him back to the U.S.?
A. Gulati is quite confident in Bradley's abilities to guide the U.S. team, and may end up giving him the full-time gig by May. However, there are many who believe Gulati wants to make a big splash by hiring a prominent Euro or Latin coach. If that is the case, someone like Houllier, Queiroz or Pekerman will get the job. Bradley would probably stay on as the top assistant (as well as lead the u-23 team) and be in position to take over the national team if a foreign coach does not work out. As for Rossi, no connection.
Q. Some of us in Ohio are wondering what exactly the status of Kiki Willis is. Was he eligible to be drafted in the draft? If not, what MLS rule allows an underclassman to drop out of school and sign with an MLS team?
A. Willis apparently signed with an agent, which ended his NCAA eligibility. DCU gave him a tryout and invited him to camp. From what I understand, he was not on the draft list and essentially slid under the radar. Whether DCU has exclusive MLS rights to him remains unclear, although unless another team protests, I don't think it's a major problem. His issue at the moment, however, is toe infections. If it doesn't heal properly, he could lose his chance at a DCU roster spot.
Q. When will I wake up from my nightmare known as Leeds United?
A. Are you ready for some League One football?
Q. With so many U.S. players in Europe, why can't we field two MNTs on friendly dates? One MLS-based team could play Ecuador and Guatemala at home, the Euro-based team could get a friendly with Norway or Poland over there. Doubles the income, avoids long interruptive travel, and gets experience for twice as many players.
A. Huh? What? No. This isn't baseball spring training with split squads. First, there aren't enough quality players in Europe to realistically do it. Second, you have to pay everyone who is called up. Third, you want to build chemistry with one team, not two. Fourth, you'd have to hold two training camps with two separate coaches. Also, I don't know if an opponent would want to face a partial U.S. national team.
Q. Twellman's new deal is for $300K, which the Globe says is the max for a non-designated player. Is that a real maximum or a traditional MLS maximum where they will bend the rules for a few players each year (after the grandfathered players move into DP slots)?
A. Yes, that is the approximate new maximum. (Actually, I think it's a bit higher.) Starting next year, anyone earning more than the standard maximum (Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, etc.) will fall under the designated player rule. No exceptions. Clubs will have to use designated player slots on those players (each team is given one and permitted to acquire a second); renegotiate a lower salary; or trade them.
Q. Your thoughts on the goalie situation with the new signee. Can he step in and play if Perkins goes down for an extended period of time? Also, this new winger, is he the long-term or year-round solution or are we still waiting for a seasoned left wing foreign signee?
A. The new goalie has not signed; it's just a trial. The club has been very quiet about the situation, but I'm sure they are still looking for a more experienced back-up. Jon Conway and Zach Thornton's names have come up. Kasali Yinka Casal seems to have a lot of potential, but keep in mind that Fulham did not want to keep him and apparently no one else in England pursued him. We'll see how he does in MLS. Meantime, the club is still actively pursuing a wide midfielder. Kasper was in England last week and apparently was looking at a Chinese under-23 player, but the chances of a signing appear slim. I still think they'll end up with a Latin American midfielder.
Q. At this point, which is more likely for the MLS season opener:
1. McTavish at RM, Gros at LM
2. Gros at RM, Wilson or DeRoux at LM
3. Unnamed foreign player at RM, Gros at LM
A. At the moment, it's Olsen and Gros on the flanks with Simms and Carroll at defensive midfield. Ideally, I think the club would like to sign a foreign flank player and move Olsen back into a central role.
Q. Your assesment of two players: Big Board members disagree over Gros and Dyachenko. Many rag that Gros is below caliber for the US MNT; I see his motor, speed and heart as great value even at that level. Many disagree over Dyachenko's speed and creativity, is he that rare player or just a role player--for now?
A. Gros is a great athlete, but needs to become better technically to be effective on the international scene. When MLS players make up the bulk of the national team for a friendly, he's definitely in the mix. When everyone is called in, he's a secondary player. Dyachenko has a lot of potential, and that's why DCU was willing to give up a first-rounder to reacquire him. Will he pan out and become an impact player? We'll see. He certainly has the tools.
Q. How are players compensated for national team duty? Would Troy Perkins be paid for being in camp even though he wasn't on the game roster? Does starting or getting into a game have a financial impact? Is club compensation diminished when players are away for national team duty?
A. Yes, players are compensated for reporting to national team camp, for being named to the 18-man game roster, for starting, and for entering a match. (I don't have the exact figures in front of me.) They are also put up in a hotel and given a per diem. When a player is away on national team duty, they are not penalized by their club.
Q. Will the Post do a big pre-MLS season spread in a Sunday paper, with a whole page dedicated to United?
A. We'll probably do what we did last year: A nice MLS spread the day before the season starts and a big DCU package on the day of the opener.
Q. At what point will Landon Donovan get called what he is: overrated? The goal was a gimme (he barely made the PK against Denmark), and the assist was great since he has swung 478 other corner kicks that were perfectly aimless. He is no leader and he absolutely will not take guys on. I'm not sure how he earns the respect that he is given inside the States.
A. Well, you just called him overrated, so I guess that question is answered. That goal against Mexico was no gimme. Yes, it was a breakaway, but he did well with it. Not many Americans have the poise to finish that opportunity. While I understand the frustration with Donovan not reaching his potential -- and he clearly did not play well at the World Cup or in the first half against Mexico -- what is the alternative? Do you want Bobby Convey in that position? Should Reyna come out of retirement? Josh Wolff? Is Dempsey the answer? Present a realistic alternative, and I'll consider it. Until then, Landon is the best option in that withdrawn forward/attacking midfield role.
Q. How much of last Wednesday's ESPN telecast of USA v Mexico will we see incorporated into MLS and national team telecasts in the future? Was that a one-off because of the US/Mexico rivalry, or will productions like that be considered the norm from now on?
A. Things are changing for the better. ESPN has bought the rights to MLS and is going to start pouring money into production. You will see many improvements as the season progresses.
Q. While the Soccer Insider Blog had good detailed coverage of last week's U.S. game against Mexico, the Washington Post only ran the AP story on the game. Will increased Blog coverage hurt soccer coverage in the print edition? Say it isn't so!
A. Things are shifting toward the Web, where there's an infinite amount of space and a growing audience. That's why DCU information that appeals mainly to the most passionate fans is showing up on the Web site and not in the paper. Having said all that, yes, I think we mishandled the US-MEX game in the print edition.
Q. Disappointments in DCU history:
1) Steve Guppy
2) Jason Moore
3) Stephen Armstrong
4) Matias Donnet
5) Thor Lee
Nod to Chris Albright and Quantinilla
A. I guess it depends what you consider a disappointment. I consider a disappointment someone who does not fulfill expectations. There were no expectations for Thor Lee. Albright and Moore arrived with very high hopes and didn't produce. Armstrong never really fit in. Guppy? Well, we knew he was old. Donnet didn't get much of a chance. My list? Moore (first overall pick), Albright (much negotiation to get him here), Filomeno, The Great Juan Berthy Suarez, perhaps Convey and Adu to some extent because of the hype. Quaranta maybe, because he showed so much early promise and then got hurt so often.
Q. Thus far in the preseason Emilio is scoring as promised, and at his introduction press conference he listed being this year's MLS scoring leader as one of his personal goals. Do you think he will acclimate to MLS quickly enough to have a good chance of accomplishing that goal?
A. Yes. From all indications, he's the real deal and will have no problem acclimating to a new league and new club. But let's see how he does in big games.
Q. Do you see Bobby Boswell being able to break into the starting lineup for the USMNT? They seem pretty deep in that position right now.
A. Conrad and Onyewu are my starters. Bocanegra is much more experienced than Boswell, who will have to learn to make quicker decisions with the ball for the national team than in MLS. Other backs to consider: DeMerit, Spector, Pearce, Califf, Robinson...
Q. Beckham's impact on the league? Media coverage, ticket sales, product on the field, ability to make MLS viable for other exceptional players?
A. Media coverage up, ticket sales up, product on the field about the same. Yes, other foreign stars will take notice.
Q. Any chance that DC would give a look to Richmond's Ronnie Pascale at GK? He's 31 I think, has done very well for the Kickers and would be a relatively cheap veteran pickup a la Pat Onstad.
A. I have not heard that. Onstad is a proven MLS goalkeeper, an all-star. I'm not sure Pascale could play at the MLS level.
Q. What happened with talk of Palermo from Boca? Was that just rumor or something more substantial? He seems more expendible now since Riquelme and Marioni are in the fold.
A. Very quiet on the Palermo front. Can't imagine he'll be coming to D.C.
Q. How do some of the players feel about their former players Adu and Esky? Especailly Esky, since we did such a stunt to NY only to be in cahoots with the team this year. I would be pretty upset if I was them.
A. Esky is in Toronto, not NY. Players go where they are wanted. It's a job. Few retain emotional ties to a club after leaving or harbor animosity toward former teammates. D.C. players will treat Esky and Adu like any other opponent.
Q. Any more news on the Zidane to New York rumors?
A. No. But the Zidane to Chicago (AEG) angle might have new life.
Q. Is the Post sending you to Honduras to cover the away game? Is the match going to have English-language commentary on FSC?
A. I'll be watching on Fox Soccer Channel, which is always in English.
Thanks for all your questions!!
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