In response to your questions......
Q. Will this be the greatest year in DCU's history?
A. Certainly has potential, but the 1998 team was the best ever (even though it did not win the MLS title).
Q. Is Fred DC's last "big name" signing before the season starts, or are there whispers of anyone else?
A. Yes, from all indications, Fred is the last major preseason signing. Keep in mind, MLS teams can look for reinforcements again after June 15.
Q. How is the Gomez contract coming along?
A. Last time I checked, no progress.
Q. Will there be any DC & Houston callups for the upcoming national team games, or will the DCU and Dynamo players be left home to prepare for their Champions' Cup games the next week?
A. USA roster will be unveiled at noon today. Because the games against Guatemala and Ecuador fall in an international window, I would expect Bob Bradley to select many Euro-based players.
Q. Will DC have a shirt sponsor this season?
A. I doubt it.
Q. What do you see as the bigger need for the last senior roster spot - a defender or a forward (assuming Dyachenko got bumped up to a Senior roster spot, there is just one senior spot left to go along with one reserve spot which could already be reserved for North)?
A. Dyachenko is already a senior roster player and don't be surprised if someone such as McTavish is upgraded from developmental to senior.
Q. What can we expect Casal's role to be this year, considering United's needs and his age/experience?
A. Casal is very young (he looks like he's 14!) and still learning the system. He's got a lot of potential but do not expect much contribution right away.
Q. Is DC going to add another true defender or work with what they have, 4 defenders and a couple of mid-fielders/defenders?
A. For now, what you see is what you get.
Q. Who is the most underated player for United?
A. Hmmm, great question. I will go with Clyde Simms.
Q. Has the dc govt reloacted the US Parks dept. helicopter pad from Poplar Point yet?
A. Why? Are there some sort of plans for Poplar Point? :-)
Q. Will DC defeat LA in this year's MLS Cup in RFK?
A. DC is certainly the favorite to come out of the East and reach MLS Cup. As for LA, we'll see. Remember, this team was a huge disappointment last year and will be disrupted by Beckham's arrival midseason. I will say, however, that Joe Cannon in goal will make a difference in many matches.
Q. Does the "power outage" in Houston tonight have anything to do with DeRosario's scratch from the roster? Conspiracy theorists want to know . . .
A. LOL. Well, they only delayed the match for one day, so I'll have to say no.
Q. Is it possible that Fred could play in the second leg of the CCC semis (or the finals)?
A. Yes. Teams have up to 48 hours before kickoff to submit a roster. New players are eligible.
Q. What changes has Soehn implemented?
A. On the surface, it's hard to see any definitive changes right now, but as the season progresses, I think you'll see Soehn show more confidence in his younger players and get them increased playing time. I also think Nowak's rigid approach to training and game preparation is gone.
Q. What current MLS player would most improve DCU's present lineup?
A. Whoa, um, I'm sure DCU would welcome Jimmy Conrad to pair with Boswell in the middle or Ronnie O'Brien for depth on the flank. But that's just not going to happen.
Q. Is the very long 2007 schedule, bookended by the most important games, setting DC United up for failure? I fear that they won't be good enough at the beginning (rust) or end (fatigue) while playing their best soccer in the middle. If this theory holds, Superliga might be our best bet.
A. Good point. Among Soehn's challenges will be managing playing time, keeping his top players fresh and healthy, and, if necessary, using his secondary players in starting roles (perhaps in the Open Cup) from time to time.
Q. Do Fred and Emilio know each other?
A. Yes, all Brazilians know each other! (kidding) No, I don't believe so.
Q. Do you think Americans buying EPL & other English teams will translate to more interest in soccer here? i.e., will Glaser et al. use their purchases to drum up some kind of marketing shenanigans for Americans?
A. It certainly has attracted some attention here and has prompted other owners to consider upgrading their global portfolio, but I don't know if it will necessarily increase the popularity of the sport.
Q. How big of a difference can Casal provide on the wings compared to our current lackluster performances on the wings?
A. I have not seen enough of Casal to determine whether he crosses effectively or is more of a runner down the flank, but as I said before, do not expect immediate contributions from him. He's young, new to United and MLS and does not have much big-game experience.
Q. What do you think is DCU's biggest weakness right now, and will it be addressed come season opener?
A. I am curious to see how the defense performs against a world-class attack like Chivas's. We'll get a good idea of where the backline stands after this series. However, at the moment, there are no plans to add any significant players.
Q. Jamil Walker - makes plenty of noise around the mouth of the net but never seems to pop on in. How are the coaches and his teamates trying to help him with this and what do you see as the main problem to it?
A. He's fast, he's a great guy, but so often his touch betrays him and he falters badly on scoring opportunities. He will have to get better if he wants to play this season (or, for that matter, remain on the roster).
Q. It seems that DC will have both cap space and allocation money available after the Fred signing. Any insight on how much and who they may be saving it for?
A. In the secret world of MLS, we will never truly know how much cap space remains. As for allocation money, I believe the team plans to use what's left on contract upgrades for Gomez and Moreno (and perhaps others).
Q. Should we expect any revelations this year from Moose, McTavish, Dyachenko, deRoux, J. Carroll, etc.?
A. Yes, yes, maybe, maybe, maybe.
Q. Why do you think Soehn has made the change of spots between Erpen and Namoff? (Last season, Namoff and Erpen were predominantly right back and left back respectively)
A. Erpen is more comfortable on the right. Namoff can play either side.
Q. Can any team in the East challenge DC?
A. Of course. Chicago has always been a DC nemesis and is very well coached. NY will be better, NE is always a threat, no one knows what to make of Toronto just yet. It's a long season.....
Q. Will the new DCU stadium (zzzzz) have overhangs to keep us dry?
A. What stadium? What overhangs? Seriously, if this thing ever gets done, it will be very nice (and mostly dry).
Q. Can you name a few key Chivas players to watch?
A. Bofo Bautista, bald striker who wears No. 100; Omar Bravo, who scored twice vs. Iran in the World Cup; Ramon Morales and Gonzalo Pineda, national team midfielders.
Q. What marketing efforts were undertaken for this game?
A. There were many ads in The Washington Post the last week, including a half-pager on Monday, I believe. This match is obviously a big deal in the Latin community and fans are well aware of the significance of Chivas's appearance. And of course, your friendly neighborhood Soccer Insider has mentioned the game regularly (that's good for 5,000 tickets sold, right!)
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