Answering the Call
Okay, here are some answers to some of your questions from earlier today:
Q: What's the latest on Fred?
A: A compromise is near. Melbourne wants money and will probably get some. Regardless, Fred will be on United's flight to Guadalajara on Saturday. Once the deal is finalized and the Aussies sign the international transfer certificate, he will be eligible to play vs. Chivas on April 3.
Q: I've heard enough "Blanco to Chicago" rumors over the past month or two to figure that, even if the move doesn't happen, it's being seriously considered...which means I have to ask: who's idea was that, the "soccer peoples'" (Sarachan et al.) or the "business peoples'" (Guppy, AEG, et al.)? Just sounds like Luis Hernandez II: Electric Boogaloo to me.
A: LOL! Sure seems like it's going to happen. Big mistake, in my opinion. Short-term gain (ticket sales, a few goals) but knowing Blanco's reputation, this will not end well.
Q: What are your thoughts on the new USL team based in Annapolis: Crystal Palace USA? Do you think Crystal Palace has a hidden agenda other than fielding a team in the US third division?
A: I'm intrigued (and plan to write a story about them this summer). Will this significantly benefit the mother club back in England? I doubt it. It's good marketing, I suppose, and perhaps they'll discover a young American player.
Q: Assuming the best about Fred, and he goes midfield wing, which current starter goes to bench? Simms? Fred to right, Olsen back to holding, Simms to first midfield sub?
A: Yeah, great question. Fred on the right, Olsen back to defensive MF, and then either Simms or Carroll sits. I like Simms a lot, but it's hard to knock Carroll out of the lineup. Soehn certainly has some good options: Simms or Carroll (or Olsen), Casal on the flank, if needed, Dyachenko, etc.
Q: Who do you think would be the first player who would be valuable enough to a team to 'graduate' to designated player status from the regular roster in order to keep them in the league, or will an MLSer have to prove themselves overseas before earning the big paycheck back home?
A: Hmmmm. Gomez has a good case, although DCU is trying to keep him around by increasing his base salary to 325K (less than a designated player) and offering him a couple guaranteed years. Teams are in a tough situation right now because the designated player rule eats up such a big chunk of the salary cap. The cap has got to go up if the designated player rule is going to be effective.
Q: I just wanted to share an experience I had last week overseas. I was in Jerusalem for the Barcelona-Real Madrid game, the first soccer game I watched outside the US. All I can say is it was amazing. The chanting, drinking, cusing, dancing. It is amazing how both those teams are able to attract fans across the globe. In Israel, it seemed as if everyone was pulling for Barca. I get the idea that are very similiar to the Dallas Cowboys (I hate them with all of my heart), because the Cowboys are the most recognizable NFL team outside the US. I really wish the US had that kind of vibe during huge soccer matches. Hypothetically speaking, say DC United beats Chivas, and actually ends up winning the CCC, do you think they would have a good showing at the FIFA Club World Cup or is it way too early to think about it?
A: Thanks for sharing your story. IF DCU were to win the Champions' Cup, then clearly they will have proven they've got the talent to succeed on the international stage. I suppose they could win a game at the Club World Cup, but a semifinal matchup with the Euro or South American champion would probably not go very well.
Q: Boswell's launch party ... what went down?
A: No idea. I certainly wasn't there. I'm too old for that stuff. So is Olsen.
Q: Casal sounds like a project with potential... if he turns out well, will his be a one-year stay, or is there a possibility he could be in black and red for a while? Also, i've read that team policy dictates that Fred wear "da Silva" on the back of his uniform instead of "Fred." Any truth to this?
A: Casal belongs to DCU/MLS now, so as long as he impresses here, he'll stay for the duration of his contract. Concerning Fred's uni, I asked Kevin Payne just that question the other day. He said they would likely allow Fred to have "Fred" on his jersey, but had not made a final decision.
Q: Will United be working any trades to add some backline depth?
A: As far as I know, no trades in the works. United's STARTING backline is fine for the MLS season; their DEPTH is another issue. Losing Jay Needham to the USL was a significant blow.
Q: What's the word on Omar Bravo's status for game 2 with Chivas?
A: DCU is under the impression that Bravo is suspended.
Q: Does it sound like Arguez will be able to get in the mix of a very crowded midfield for some first-team minutes in the early season or will we only be watching him on Sunday mornings for now?
A: Arguez has big-time potential. He's very comfortable with the ball, likes to play in the middle of the pitch and has great size. But with DCU's experienced midfield, I don't think you'll see much of him in regular season matches this season. That, of course, could change. Keep in mind he'll miss a lot of time while with the U-20s this summer, as well.
Q: In the EPL, kids often walk out with the starting lineup and shake hands with the opposing team, etc. It seems like just a PR thing these days, but has it always been? What's the history of it and how it got started?
A: I have no idea. You might want to check with Jack Huckel at the US Soccer Hall of Fame: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Shouldn't MLS start their season a month earlier, and end a month earlier? Which would you rather soccer compete against -- basketball in March, or baseball and football in October?
A: It's a no-win situation in terms of attracting casual fans; there's always something else going on. The problem with starting earlier is that teams like Colorado and New England might have weather issues.
Q: Any update on the Freddy Llerena/DCU situation?
A: Nope. A post-discovery status conference is scheduled for May 4 at U.S. District Court.
Q: I know you don't want to be asked this, but could you do us a favor and ask someone in the front office about the stadium. Finally, have you tradmarked "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" yet?
A: Z...z...z. The club is quietly confident that the deal will get done at some point soon. When that is, who knows?
Q: If NE does in fact trade Shalrie do you think they'll be in the market for a defensive midfielder? We seem to have several of them, what are the chances of a Simms + draft pick for Dorman or Ralston trade or something similiar?
A: I don't think DCU is interested in any complex trades at the moment. The front office is comfortable with its current roster.
Q: Who do you think is the most improved team in MLS this offseason? Who's going to be worse off than last year?
A: Once Beckham settles in, LA could have a very good team after missing the playoffs last year. NY has some potential with Arena in charge and Reyna in the leadership role. Worse? Things aren't looking good in New England.
Q: What other footie journalists do you read on a regular basis? Who do you like/respect/admire for their writing abilities and insights?
A: I read everything George Vecsey writes in the NYT, soccer or otherwise. Ives Galacep has a very good blog; I check Michael Lewis's bigapplesoccer Web site; Grant Wahl is a great read at SI.com; Ridge Mahoney at Soccer America; Del'Appa at the Globe; and many other colleagues on the MLS/USA beats. I'll also check the BBC and various British papers. I know there are a lot of other blogs out there, but I just don't have time to read em all.
Q: Is it really true that Moreno will play for Bolivia in Copa America?
A: I saw those reports. I find it hard to believe Moreno would be effective on the international level after such a long layoff. We'll see...
Q: What's with the continued lack of coverage of DCUnited on local news programs (except Univision and Telefutura)? For once I would love to see highlights, in English (although I don't mind them in spanish).
A: Stick with the Post and Comcast SportsNet.
Q: Are there long term plans (or discussions) to pull the USL and MLS together in a format similar to those in Europe with promotion and relegation?
A: I'd be surprised if that ever happened. Most USL teams don't have the budgets or facilities to play in MLS.
Q: I'm a DCU fan living in Ohio, and I managed to schedule meetings in DC for April 3rd and 4th. Can you -or anyone- suggest a good place to watch the game?
A: Check this out: http://bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=494690
Q: Still wondering what's going on with #99.
A: If Moreno does not perform, don't be surprised if Fred moves into that withdrawn forward slot.
Q: What do you think about replay cams for whether the ball crossed the goal line?
A: Why not utilize the technology to determine whether a goal is truly a goal? It's not like the game is going to be stopped regularly. Once every month or two, maybe? I would gladly welcome a three-minute stoppage if it means getting the call right on a goal-line controversy.
Q: Who has been your favorite United player to cover? Which one has been the biggest headache?
A: A lot of good guys have passed through the United locker room -- Olsen, Kamler, Agoos, etc. Stoitchkov was a headache.
Q: Any word on how our old friend Freddy Adu is doing at RSL? Is he becoming the player everyone wants him to be in his new location?
A: Too early to tell. RSL is convinced that Freddy will spark the club's renaissance.
Q: What kind of mls preview is in the works at the Post? also, how often will you be traveling with united this season?
A: We'll have a lot of DCU/MLS stuff in the paper between April 2 and April 8. I am planning to travel for every, or almost every, United match. If we can have a staff writer at all 40-odd road games for the wretched Caps, how can we not cover 15 DCU road matches?
Q: I think trading away Freddy Adu was the worst trade in sports history.
A: You've got to be kidding. The worst in sports history? Um, no.
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