Late Night on the Insider
Just got home from slushy Baltimore.....
Nothing urgent, but a couple items to share before I get some pre-draft sleep.
*Read about Virginia Tech's Patrick Nyarko here.
*I received a tip that Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan is headed to Glasgow Celtic on Sunday to start a trial. Still awaiting confirmation. Anyone see anything in the British press?
*I asked D.C. United Coach Tom Soehn if the club, which does not have a first-round pick, is trying to move up in the draft. His response: "Not really, but you never know. At this point, it does not seem likely. A lot of things happen on draft day, so if someone approaches us with something we feel will improve our team, we would consider it."
His thoughts on the combine: "I don't think there were as many sure things as in past years, but it is a deeper draft. There are a lot of guys who can play in our league, but I just don't think there are large number of impact players."
Is the team looking to sign defender Jay Needham, last year's draft pick who chose to play for USL1 Puerto Rico and won rookie honors? "Not really. He's under contract with his club."
*I had the opportunity to sit down with Tonya Antonucci, commissioner of the new Women's Professional Soccer, which will begin play in 2009. Some highlights:
-- The season will begin around Apri 4, 2009, and conclude sometime near Labor Day.
-- Each team will play 20 matches.
-- The league has commitments from seven clubs for the inaugural season and would like to add an eighth and possibly a ninth, but at the moment, they are planning to go with seven. San Jose appears to be the top choice for an eighth team, but there have been discussions with Vancouver, Kansas City and North Carolina (Cary). The league would also like to talk to Seattle about the long-term future.
-- The Washington club will probably end up playing at Maryland SoccerPlex, but "is still looking at other options." It is quite possible the team will play a few doubleheaders with United at RFK Stadium.
-- Los Angeles will play at Home Depot Center, Chicago at Toyota Park, Dallas is in negotiations with Pizza Hut Park, New York/New Jersey is negotiating with Rutgers University, Boston is close to a deal with a "prominent university" (Harvard?), and St. Louis is at Anheuser-Busch Center.
-- By the time the Olympics roll around this summer, league officials hope to have a plan in place to allocate high-profile players to the teams. There will be a draft next winter for college players and others. Each team will have a minimum of 20 players and there will be a salary cap.
-- The league is planning to acquire as many foreign stars as possible, but "we will have to be flexible and creative to make it happen." One of the possibilities is acquiring players on loan from other leagues that play at other times of the year.
-- On the belief that the new league will be hurt by the lack of true American superstars: "I don't think our success is predicated on having another Mia Hamm. I think that happens organically. Stars will emerge."
-- On appealing to a broader audience: "We're not branding toward just the screaming 13-year-old girl. We're branding to everyone. It could be the 35-year-old guy who plays twice a week."
-- On the league's long-term vision: "We have to be the premier league in the world. That's our mission. We want to set the standard."
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