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Your Questions, My Answers

Jump down to the continuation of this thread for the full Q&A.

Caution: Leave yourself plenty of time to read it -- we covered a lot of ground.


Q. What are the chances that Benfica will allow Freddy Adu to play for the U23s during Olympic Qualification?

A. Most Euro-based under-23s will not be available for group play in Olympic qualifying because of club commitments. However, don't be surprised if players such as Adu are made available for the semifinal match only, which will determine an Olympic berth. My sense is that there will be a compromise between the USSF and Euro clubs.

Q. Luciano Emilio is not a D.P., but should he be? Also, will it happen after his contract expires?

A. Emilio wanted a new deal this season, but that is not going to happen. He's disappointed, but he also seems to understand that he signed a contract that does not mandate a raise after one season. My hunch is that, if he has another productive season, he will get a new contract for 2009 and beyond. Let's see what happens this year.

Q. Any insider news or personal thoughts about Benny Feilhaber's position at Derby? He really needs to be playing.

A. Agreed. He's needs first-team matches. It's really a shame because he was on the verge of becoming a top-tier U.S. player. Hopefully a move is in his near future.

Q. What will be United's plan for the depth they will need for all the games this year, especially at MF?

A. Good question. DCU seems set at goalkeeper (Wells and Carvallo), in the back (Burch, Namoff, McTavish, Peralta and Martinez) and at forward (Emilio, Moreno, Niell and Kpene). But midfield is indeed a question. Olsen and Fred on the flanks, Simms in a defensive role, Gallardo as a playmaker and Mediate provides flank depth, but they need Dyachenko to emerge. Even then, the MF corps is thin at the moment.

Q. Will United announce a sponsor anytime in the near future?

A. Indications since the fall have been a jersey sponsor for the '08 season, and the new uniform seems designed with that in mind. Frankly, I haven't lost any sleep over it. I appreciate the importance of a sponsor and the money it brings in, but I really don't think it matters what it says. Of course, I vote for Five Guys. ;-)

Q. From a league-wide prospective, what newly drafted players, including GA's, have been signed by the league?

A. All Generation Adidas players signed MLS contracts in advance. Most others, I believe, are not under contract at the moment.

Q. Assuming that Gomez will be traded for money/picks, and not a player like Cooke, are there any other plans in the works to acquire some more depth on the flanks? Or are Soehn and Co. going to rely on the reserves for that? Any movement on a Vanney trade?

A. I would be shocked if United received any players in a trade for Gomez's or Vanney's rights. Dave Kasper has said on the record he does not expect to make any additional significant acquisitions. No word on a Vanney deal, but as I've reported, a Gomez trade to Colorado is close.

Q. Any word if Comcast SportsNet is going to make a ploy to can together broadcasts and production like they do in for NBA (Wizards, Sixers, Bulls) or NHL (Caps, Flyers, Blackhawks)?

A. I'm not familiar with Comcast's multi-city production strategies. Sorry.

Q. I'm a Toronto supporter and have been frustrated by the lack of news we've received this offseason. It seems like Toronto FC are very secretive about the club and don't release information. Are DC the same way? And you're just doing some real investigative work to break stories or is DC a bit more forthcoming with information on signings, players news, etc? Is the lack of TFC coverage due to poor reporting or the club just not being forthcoming about information?

A. All clubs are secretive about what they do; it's the tenacious reporting that exposes their plans. Some markets have media that is more aggressive and effective than others. You don't hear much from places like Colorado either.

Q. Is there much talk among MLS bigshots about raising the salary cap (not for the 2008 season, but maybe for 2009)? A lot of players left MLS this offseason for small European leagues, partly because those leagues pay better.

A. The salary cap goes up every year, just not by much. From the very beginning, the league has promoted slow growth, which means conservative salary caps. The designated player rule was a step in the right direction, but until a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated after the 2009 season, I don't see much change in salaries.

Q. Who should start and what formation should be used for the USA versus Mexico?

A. In the next few days, we will find out which Euro-based players will be available. But it's safe to assume we'll see Howard, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Dempsey, Bradley, Cherundolo and others. You've got to figure Donovan is in the lineup. Let's wait to see what the roster looks like before determining a lineup and formation.

Q. Who is quicker on the blog draw - Mr. Bog or Senor Goffino?

A. Bog is wittier and appeals to a broader audience, but the Insider draws more hits.

Q. Any word or rumblings on any DP signings in the immediate future for some of the other MLS teams?

A. We continue to hear reports from South America about Lopez, Palermo and Ortega coming to MLS, and Figo at some point this year. We'll see.....

Q. If the winner of the CONCACAF Champions League is going to the FIFA Club World Cup, then why play the CONCACAF Champions Cup at all?

A. Champions Cup field was set before the Champions League was created. Plus, CONCACAF needs a representative for the world tournament in December 2008. The first Champions League will not conclude until spring 2009.

Q. What needs to be done to prevent MLS from becoming a feeder league to Europe and how many more years till a major structural change to prevent it?

A. No matter what the salary cap is in MLS, there are always going to be players who would prefer to pursue the European dream. Having said that, I think MLS needs to do a better job of retaining mid-level players rather than losing them to leagues such as Norway's.

Q. Is there any way for Mastroeni to fit under DC's cap?

A. Not likely. They've spent a lot on five new South American players.

Q. Since we have fulfilled our qualifications on the academy program, when can we start using those players, and is that what the DC FO is going to try to do for depth in this upcoming monster of a season?

A. Academy players are barely prepared for MLS reserve matches, much less league games or international play.

Q. Will the MLS schedule be released on Friday, or will it be next week before there is a release to the media/public?

A. My understanding is that the full schedule will be released next week. Every club has a tentative schedule in place; national TV slots are usually the final consideration.

Q. Who is your preseason #1? And do you think United has gotten significantly better this offseason?

A. At this early stage, Houston has got to be considered the favorite, but it's quite premature to make predictions since clubs are still finalizing their rosters. Yes, United appears to have better balance and international savvy. The key will be the effectiveness of Gallardo in place of Gomez and the new central backs.

Q. When the league reaches 16 teams, will we see a single table and a round robin of play? Certainly 30 games is satisfactory, and as the league gets to 18 and will move to a 34 fixture list with round robin play a single table will make sense.

A. Makes sense to me, but I don't see it happening in the foreseeable future. MLS seems committed to conferences and American-style playoffs. Maybe someday.....

Q. What are other possible expansion teams that are rumored for the future?

A. Now that it has approval for a stadium, Philadelphia is the front-runner for the 16th slot. Beyond that, I think MLS very much wants to get into Miami and, at some point, St. Louis, possibly a second team in New York as well as another Canadian city.

Q. Can you give us an update on the Real World Fort Washington house since Guy-Roland Kpene is the last member of the house after Bryan Arguez, Kasali Yinka Casal, Shawn Crowe and Kiki Willis are all gone from the club?

A. Ha! That's Dan "Sports Bog" Steinberg's account. I'm not sure where Guy is living these days.

Q. Joe Jackson or Graham Nash?

A. One More Time, it's Joe.

Q. With the recent influx of defenders, where does that leave McTavish? Will he be a defensive substitute or will be move to a withdrawn midfielder type role?

A. Great question. He's in the mix for central defense. Remember, folks, United is going be playing an awful lot of matches this calendar year and they are going to have to rely on a number of players. Preseason will determine the starters, but you will also see regulars rested periodically because of the busy schedule. Fear not: McTavish will see plenty of action this year.

Q. Can you see Gooch regaining his form and moving out of Belgium to a bigger league this summer?

A. I figured he would've been elsewhere this past fall, but it didn't happen. I imagine bigger clubs will take a closer look again this summer.

Q. If DCU can't find a taker for Vanney, what do you think will happen? They'll just waive his rights?

A. At some point, if they are unable to trade him, I imagine they'll cut their losses and waive him, which would allow him to then sign with any MLS club. The issue with Vanney is not his ability because, although he is past his prime, he is still a decent player; it's the amount of money he's willing to accept to remain in the league.

Q. How will DCU/Soehn prioritize the season? In my opinion: 1)Supporters' Shield, 2) Champions Cup, 3) MLS Cup, 4) SuperLiga, 5)US Open Cup.

A. Don't forget Champions League, which will start in late summer/early fall. I disagree about the Supporters' Shield. They've won it the last two years and you don't exactly see parades taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue. MLS Cup is first and Open Cup last, in my opinion, although with Champions Cup and Champions League, I don't know how excited they are about SuperLiga.

Q. With all the recent player movement and complaining about salaries, how ugly do you think CBA negotiations will be next year between players - owners?

A. Batten down the hatches! Hide the women and children! The current CBA expires on Jan. 31, 2010. Let's hope a new deal is in place well before then.

Q. Any idea where the United will be staying when they're in TX (preseason)?

A. Yeah, I can give you their hotel and room numbers. ;-) Even if I knew, I would not be at liberty to share that information.

Q. With the initial reports indicating that the WPS (women's league) is aiming for rather small crowds at first, how will they have the money to attract key international players (which in turn will help draw crowds)? And without those big-name players, do you think the league will be able to survive?

A. They need sponsors, and lots of them. And investors who are willing to lose money for several years. I'm sure we will see most, if not the entire, U.S. national team player pool on WPS clubs. However, it's critical to also add Brazilians, Germans and African players as well.

Q. Do you know what the state of the current DCU roster? How many more spots are up for grabs, and how much salary cap room are we really talking about. This is a similar question to one above, but is DC just sitting up a revolving door system. We sign good players like Gomez and Emilio, but can't keep them past two years. If Emilio has the same kind of year again, then he is going to demand the same thing as Gomez.

A. Players coming and going is the norm in professional sports. Clubs are businesses, and their leaders must decide how much to spend on their employees and investments. DCU has several non-contract invitees at training camp, as well as draft picks, vying for roster spots. There still is time to identify new players, as we've seen DCU do in recent years with Perkins and Boswell.

Q. I understand United will train in California part of this preseason. Any word on where in Cali they'll train?

A. Plans have not been finalized, but Quakes Coach Frank Yallop told me at the draft that he expects a SJ-DC friendly at Cal Poly-SLO.

Q. How much will WPS have to pay to attract Marta, Prinz, etc?

A. Good question. Still too early to say. League investors and officials are formulating plans on how to sign (or acquire on loan) international stars. They hope to have things in place after the Olympics.

Q. When do you think realistically the US will be able to compete to win a World Cup?

A. Realistically, how about 2026? Impossible to say, really. But there is no shame in not winning a World Cup. England, founders of the modern game, has done it exactly once (at home under controversial circumstances). Spain has never won it; neither has the Netherlands, Portugal, Mexico or any African and Asian nation.

Q. Which of the current presidential candidates is most likely to be seen at a DCU game?

A. LOL. I'd say Barack; he's a pretty worldly guy (consider his personal background) who would probably appreciate soccer's culture, diversity and energy.

Q. Why does MLS own all player contracts and pay most of their salaries from league sources?

A. MLS is a single-entity business. Individuals and groups invest in the league as a whole - they are all in this together -- and are awarded operating rights to teams.

Q. Any idea if and when RFK will host a U.S. MNT game? A WC qualifier would be nice, but at this point, I'd take a friendly.

A. Now that RFK is a soccer stadium again, it has returned to competitive status to host national team matches. You could see a semifinal-round qualifier at RFK later this year or in the final round in 2009. A word of caution, however. Competition for U.S. matches has intensified since RFK was last a player in this process as several new stadiums have opened and cities have come to realize that bidding for, and hosting, soccer games is a higher priority.

Q. Will Moreno be #9? Whose your pick for the African Cup of Nations?

A. As far as I know, Moreno is keeping No. 99. I'm going with Ghana at home in the African Cup.

Q. How is Jamil Walker looking in preseason on his road to recovery?

A. Jamil is healthy again and attempting to earn a contract and roster spot. It's not going to be easy to claim one of those 18 senior slots.

Q. Does the wave of South American signings reflect, at least in part, an attempt by DCU to be more able to win regional competitions? Presumably Latin American veterans would be more used to playing in the kind of conditions DCU faces on the road in Mexico and Central America.

A. It has more to come with economics - Latin American players are more affordable than Europeans - but in talking with DCU folks, they certainly appreciate the need for experienced Latin players when entered in tournaments such as Champions Cup, SuperLiga, Champions League and Copa Sudamericana against teams from Central and South America.

Q. John Hiatt or John Prine?

A. Cry Love, baby! Hiatt. (No disrespect to Prine.)

Q. What's more likely this year -- announcement of stadium location or MLS Cup?

A. Wow, that's a tough one. Given United's playoff struggles of late, I'll go with the stadium location announcement.

Q. Whom should I support: The DC United (my home since 1993), The Chicago Fire (where I was born), or The New York metropolitan area Red Bull (where two states combine for 46 electoral college votes)? [This question was submitted by FC Hillary Clinton 2008]

A. Well, senator, given your propensity for political pandering (ouch!), I recommend speaking out in favor of a DCU stadium in Congress, wearing a Fire scarf when in Illinois and slurping a Red Bull drink when campaigning in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Q. Just wondering, when will your presidential endorsement come? The BigSoccer voting bloc is eagerly awaiting your decision and hoping to see it before Super Tuesday.

A. As Little Feat once sang, I've got the apolitical blues.

Q. As the de facto Bruce Arena connection (when Grant Wahl's busy anyway), can you tell us about his plans this year? Is it true that he'll be in the ESPN booth?

A. Who's this Grant fellow you speak of? ;-) I was IM'ing with Bruce the other day. He said he's retired. My guess is he'll pop up on TV before long.

Q. Would you happen to know an update on Raul Diaz Arce? Last I heard he isn't the assistant coach with the US men's U17s anymore.

A. Since the U17 coaching shakeup, I'm not sure what Raul is doing now. Anybody out there know?

Q. With all the new players, does DC have room for more international players, or have they reached their limit?

A. Unless an extraordinary situation arises, United does not plan to make any more significant acquisitions this preseason.

Q. On a scale of one to ten, with one being "you'll never notice" and ten being a completely wiped out season, how contentious will it get? And what issues are most likely to be the sticking points?

A. I'll go with an 8. It is not going to be a smooth process. Issues will include salaries, roster sizes, salaries, insurance, salaries, free agency, salaries, pensions and salaries.....

Q. Any idea on Ben Nason's prospects with FC Dallas? We wouldn't normally expect any inside info on other team's 4th round draft picks, but since he's a local kid, being from Stafford and playing at Virginia Tech, thought you might know a little more.

A. I have no insight at this early stage of preseason, but I would guess he's got a chance to earn a developmental roster spot.

Q. Over at Buzz Carrick's Third Degree blog, there's an interview with Jay Needham, DC United's draft pick from a year ago who went to play in USL instead of accept a developmental contract, in which Needham says he wants to play in MLS but he wasn't invited by DC to trial with the team in training camp. That seems like an odd decision for a team with limited defensive depth. Any insight into what's going on there?

A. Two issues: He's apparently under contract with Puerto Rico and DCU does not want to have to buy his rights, and they are not sure he's MLS material.

Q. Do you see any MLS teams in the Copa Libertadores in the coming years?

A. Absolutely.

Q. What is the future of SuperLiga after the 2008 competition?

A. Good question. We have yet to receive the specifics of this year's tournament. It's an awfully cluttered calendar for MLS teams. This event is largely dictated by Spanish-language TV, particularly in Mexico, which means there is a lot of money behind it.

Q. How exactly will the Canadian representative in the Champions League be determined?

A. I'd imagine it will be decided by qualifying matches involving Toronto FC and the Canadian teams in the USL.

Q. Are you going to be covering the USA-Mexico game for the Post? Also, does the Post have resources to cover all the WC qualifiers? Are you going to Barbados or Dominica for the first round away game?

A. I will be in Houston for USA-MEX, arriving Tuesday. I also plan to cover every USA qualifier, except the second (away) leg of the series against Barbados or Dominica. Assuming a big US victory in the first game at home, I cannot justify covering a largely meaningless game in the islands. Best to conserve financial resources for future trips.

Q. Is DCU planning on sticking with the same formation? What are the current options behind Benny and Fred at wide MF's?

A. Too early to predict formations. My guess is that they'll play with four in the back again. At the moment, not a lot of options on the flanks.

Q. Who is the better substitute for you, Steinberg or LaCanfora?

A. I have no substitute. ;-)

Q. Will South Africa's three-and-out performance in Ghana give ammunition to parties who are already inclined to get the 2010 WC moved because of concerns about crime, infrastructure, etc.?

A. None.

Q. What are your favorite soccer blogs/site to read about soccer news?

A. I check my fellow U.S. newspaper bloggers/reporters daily. I also scan the English papers and BBC site. Despite my limited Spanish, I also search some of the South American and Central American newspaper sites as well.

Q. Will people ever give up on entirely unsubstantiated non-rumors about Terry Cooke, who is never, ever going to play in DC? Will they ever give up on the idea of Jay Needham playing for DC?

A. They'll never give up, I'm afraid. (sigh) I like Cooke on the flank, but don't see him coming here.

Q. Do you think that the MLS should have a promotion and relegation system? I see a lot of potential by doing that with the USL leagues. That would increase competition and soccer markets everywhere in the nation.

A. The issue is money. A promoted USL team owner cannot afford to become an MLS investor. And an MLS investor is not going to tolerate spending his money in the USL. It's never going to happen. Sorry.

Q. Would it be worth getting to know Jerson Monteiro or is he just another body to fill our revolving "fifth forward" slot?

A. Dan Steinberg wrote a nice Monteiro feature when he was acquired in September. (I was in China at the time.) At the moment, Monteiro appears well down the depth chart. Maybe they'll try to convert him into a flank player.

Q. When will MLS go to a single table? When will MLS cooperate with international dates? When will MLS increase the salary cap? When will MLS get a better TV deal?

A. Someday; Not until they control every stadium and the scheduling flexibility that comes with it; The salary cap goes up a little each year; What's wrong with the TV deal??? ESPN is actually paying MLS to show its matches.

Q. Why are United fans so supportive of the front office? Yes, they land an ocassional success like Emelio and Fred, but they have far more failures, including drafting several players who had already publicly stated their desire to play in Europe, not to mention Guppy, Stoichkov, Chris Albright, and a seemingly endless list of players who cost us draft picks and other players. We're NOWHERE on a stadium, because the FO failed to realize it needed to put pressure on the administration by securing bids from elsewhere (isn't that basic business strategy?) Why is this a blind lovefest?

A. United has been awfully successful on the field over the last 12 years. Hard to complain about that. If the team performed like, say, the Red Bulls, you would see and hear more public criticism. As for draft picks, MLS is not the NBA or NFL, where you look to the draft for immediate help. The MLS draft is secondary to identifying and signing international players, or finding a diamond in the rough (Perkins, Boswell, etc). The stadium situation has not gone smoothly and I'm sure United regrets its initial negotiating tactics, but they have secured two potential sites in Maryland and will pursue one of them for construction if the District does not commit to a stadium very soon.

Q. What's the latest on Freddy Adu? How is he doing at Benfica? I heard how he started off as spark off the bench, but haven't heard anything in a while.

A. Freddy has done well in his first year in Europe. Mostly he comes off the bench, but seems well-liked by the club and its supporters. Hopefully we will see him in a USA uniform again soon.

Q. If I make and sell a T-shirt that says "Got Goff?" or "In Goff We Trust" or "Insider Nation" , will the Post (or you) sue me?

A. Consider yourself sued!

Q. Your take on ESPN's new commentator lineup? Did we whine enough about Whinealda to get him moved?

A. Wynalda got himself removed with inappropriate comments and apparent difficulty working with the ESPN folks.

Q. Whenever there is breaking news, you say that you got it from your sources or contacts, but I always wondered what or who are your sources or contacts?

A. I have lots of them, but most prefer to remain anonymous in order to avoid trouble. Sorry, can't share my reporting secrets.

Q. Does DCU's front office believe only Latin foreigners are capable of playing attacking positions in MLS? Houston and New England seem to think otherwise. Giving minutes to young prospects (like Arguez) or even having them on the roster doesn't seem to be a priority. Or is this part of some obsession with continental trophies (building a team to win in Mexico)? Own enough MLS Cups already?

A. United has had much success with Latin playmakers - Etcheverry and Gomez. Gallardo is/was a world-class player and the club could not resist bringing him in when it became clear they were not going to re-sign Gomez. Houston's man in the middle is a Canadian, no? New England didn't really have a traditional playmaker - Ralston, a winger, moved into the middle when Dorman was dropped late in the year. As for Arguez, an offer of 350K for a player who did not show much progress last year was too good to turn down.

Q. Do you expect DCU would have the same large crowed they had last year when the Galaxy play here this season?

A. Yes. Beckham sells tickets.

Q. What will be Jaime's role this season. Is he expecting to be a super-sub? Or does he expect to be in the starting lineup?

A. Jaime will start some games, come off the bench in others. It's a very long, very busy schedule, and United felt it was imperative to increase their frontline depth and become less dependant on two forwards. That's why they went out and signed Niell.

Q. Are you and Ives friends? Best friends? Arch enemies? Do you think that Niell will start at all this season? I see a potential log-jam with Moreno, Emilio, Dyachenko and Kpene. Emilio is a constant, but with Moreno, I don't see how Niell fits in.

A. Ives and I are friends and competitors. There's mutual respect for each other's work. Niell did not come here to play 10 minutes a game. That does not mean he will start each and every game, but again, this is a very long and busy year - you will see different combinations throughout the season.

Q. Can you explain what the daily/weekly schedule of an amazing soccer blog writer like yourself is?

A. Thanks for your kind words. I am online, on the phone, IM'ing and texting all day to provide material for the blog. Of course, I also have soccer writing responsibilities for the print edition of the Post. And during the winter, I cover college basketball as well.

Q. If Emilio, Gallardo, McTavish and Burch were on a boat with you and you fell in the water and couldn't swim, which one would be the first to jump in to save you?

A. None of 'em. I'm a sneaky reporter, remember? ;-) Which reminds me of a great line from the film "Almost Famous": "He was never a person! He was a journalist!"

Q. Have you seen Christian Gomez at all around camp?

A. He's no longer with the club.

Q. Why does the USMNT treat any game against Mexico, even an off season friendly, as supremely important, but yet the USMNT will send a B team to play competitive events such as the Copa America on the road?

A. Unfair comparison. Every situation is different. Most USA-MEX matches fall on international fixture dates, so naturally the Americans trot out their best squad. Copa America came on the heels of the Gold Cup, which quite frankly, was more important to the Americans because it is their regional championship. They were guests at Copa and decided to use a largely experimental roster. That said, they should have sent a little better squad to Venezuela.

Q. I understand that Hendricks (of Freedom and SoccerPlex fame, and oh yeah, and of Discovery Channel fame), owns a minority interest of some type in United. Am I right? How will this affect plans for the new Freedom? More joint marketing? Doubleheaders? Shared front office staff?

A. He is not part of United's investment group at this time, but does have a good relationship with the DCU folks. Don't be surprised if there are a couple doubleheaders once the women's league starts up. And someday, when DCU has its own stadium, the women's team will probably play there as well.

Q. John Hiatt is a pop 40 hack.

A. You, sir, are banned from future chats!

Q. Will you ever do this again?

A. But of course. During the MLS season, I have regularly scheduled live online chats on washingtonpost.com. During the offseason, I offer these occasional Q&As on the blog.

Hope y'all enjoyed it. Sorry I couldn't answer each and every question.

By Steve Goff  |  February 1, 2008; 12:55 AM ET
Categories:  Q&A  
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Comments

I'd give you a raise if I had the power or money to. Well done. Thank you.

Posted by: sitruc | February 1, 2008 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Goffinho!

Posted by: Dave | February 1, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Quakes/DC details in San Luis Obispo were announced today:

http://blog.soccersiliconvalley.com/archives/2008/01/quakes_crew_dc.html

Quakes/Crew at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 22
Quakes/DC United at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 24

Oh, and to work in a John Hiatt reference, how do you get from San Jose to San Luis Obispo?

Drive South!

Posted by: JJH | February 1, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Your coverage makes fans in all other markets jealous...well done as always.

Posted by: Kurt | February 1, 2008 2:03 AM | Report abuse

"In my opinion: 1)Supporters' Shield"

The amazing game of "Let's Pretend the Supporter's Shield Matters" continues.

There is one league championship, and it's MLS Cup.

Internationally, we'll also put up there CONCACAF Cup and Libertadores. We'll see if the CONCACAF Champions League takes off.

If a different trophy earns you a ticket to CONCACAF (or, in our dreams, Libertadores), then that trophy is useful for something other than a doorstop.

Otherwise, they're Cracker Jack prizes. If the prize money is nice, that's good for the players. But the Supporters Shield, Superliga, Open Cup, and Sudamericana are good only for pretending like the season wasn't a waste of time. Or, if you're New England, pretending that your team isn't a joke, despite having lost a hat trick of MLS Cup finals.

Think about this: if the Miami Fusion had won MLS Cup in 2001, they certainly would not have been contracted after the season. They won the Supporters' Shield, which we pretend is a big damn deal, but actually was as useful against the contraction of the team as a q-ray bracelet is against multiple sclerosis.

Real supporters of real teams in real leagues might take a tiny amount of pleasure in winning a stunt trophy, and it's a nice opportunity for fans to see a few more games, but do you think Chelsea fans give a tinker's cuss about having won the 2007 Carling Cup?

Let's grow up. Last season wasn't a total failure, but crashing out of the first round of the playoffs was very bad. Acting like the Supporters Shield is a relevant piece of hardware-- more important than the MLS Cup, say some of the more embarrassing elements!-- doesn't change the facts.

Posted by: Scot | February 1, 2008 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for the info Goffinho
you've got a way with words my friend

Posted by: kid a | February 1, 2008 2:40 AM | Report abuse

"The amazing game of "Let's Pretend the Supporter's Shield Matters" continues.

There is one league championship, and it's MLS Cup."

---------------------

I'll never understand this mindset. Look, nobody (well, few people) would argue that the SS is more important than the MLS Cup. I think every DCU fan out there is disappointed that we didn't win the Cup, especially given that the game was in our home stadium. Losing to Chicago (again) sucked.

But it's simply a huge jump from "winning the SS is less important than winning the MLS Cup" to "the SS is worthless". Does being the best team over the course of the season matter? Does earning qualification for the CCC and CCL and SuperLiga matter? Does getting the top seed in the playoffs matter? Hell, even if you just consider the SS to be a large pointy paperweight, wouldn't you rather have that paperweight helping to fill the trophy case? It's better than what's in the RBNY case, right?

In terms of the original comment of prioritizing, I don't see how a team/coach won't prioritize winning the SS -- at least during the season. Getting home field advantage for the playoffs would be one big reason to do that. So is guaranteeing a spot in the CCL (and possibly SuperLiga if the same entry qualification is in place). Are you suggesting those are *not* reasons to pursue getting the most points?

One of the great things about soccer is that there generally isn't just "one trophy" to win -- one might not win the league, but at least win something else of meaning during the season. I want to win MLS Cups. I want stars on the jersey. But that doesn't mean I'm not excited to win a SS too.

YMMV.

Posted by: Phil | February 1, 2008 2:48 AM | Report abuse

That wasn't a question about Hiatt -- just a trial balloon opinion....

Please let me stay......

Posted by: Fisch Fry | February 1, 2008 2:51 AM | Report abuse

What's all this Jackson/Hiatt nonsense? Must be an Inside(er) joke. Dump 'em both and go with the White Stripes. And before you say it, no...I'm 54.

Posted by: Scott Dunham | February 1, 2008 3:02 AM | Report abuse

The Supporters' Shield is a trophy, and it does matter. It's a more impressive feat than the MLS Cup.

But the Cup is our championship. It sure would be nice to get another one of those.

Posted by: Joe S. | February 1, 2008 4:38 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the first question, Freddy Adu's teammate and competition for playing time, Angel di Maria, just flew off to play in Argentina's friendly against Guatemala in LA, thus missing tomorrow's league match. Benfica let him have the time off to integrate into Argentina's olympic team. This bodes well for Benfica letting Freddy Adu do likewise.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 1, 2008 6:47 AM | Report abuse

What kind of player is Niell? Jaime Moreno holds the ball well which makes the whole team better (much like Kpene). Is Niell more like Moreno or a pure striker like Emilio?

Posted by: Asher | February 1, 2008 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Goff. Couldn't think of a better way to spend the last twenty minutes.

Shh...don't tell my girlfriend.

Posted by: Jared | February 1, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

post Q&A question - do you think it's weird that there are no breathlessy excited questions about Gallardo? Or even many mundane questions about Gallardo, considering the amount of cash DC dropped on him? Does the front office expect him to only have some effect on the field, or did they expect him to have a marquee effect on ticket sales, etc?

Posted by: pat | February 1, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to answer the question about why DC United fans are so supportive of the FO, if I may. Another reason besides Steves's point is that all the atmosphere you see at RFK is directly attributable to Kevin Payne and Steve Zack. Speaking specifically on behalf of the Barra Brava, we wouldn't be in existance without those two gentlemen.

And John Hiatt rocks....

Posted by: Chico | February 1, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Steve,

Seems like you might have missed my question. It was the first on the list.

What do you think of Fulham's 5-4-1 they were sporting with Dempsey up top on Tuesday? Do you think that Hodgson is going to pack it in to try and avoid giving up goals and therefore, try to keep him out of relegation?

Can there be a more boring formation?


Thanks!

Posted by: Brad | February 1, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Goff, I'm suprised you answered so many questions!

Posted by: strago | February 1, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

It's great that Fulham has all these American's on their roster, but why should a Post reporter/blogger be concerned with the tactical choices of a team/manager in London? He's got DC United, MLS and US issues to cover.

Yes, there is a great US angle at Fulhamerica, but realistically, your question on Fulham's 4-5-1 formation and efforts to avoid relegation aren't all that important at this moment.

Of course, I hope Eddie Johnson starts on Sunday and knocks in a couple versus Aston Villa. It would be a shame if Fulham gets relegated at the end of their season. But either way, we'd still have 6 more months of MLS action to entertain us at that point.

Posted by: Why is London calling? | February 1, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

-------
Thanks Goff, I'm suprised you answered so many questions!
-------

I'm not. Look back at this answer:

-------
A. I have no substitute. ;-)
-------

Posted by: * | February 1, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Another reader very much appreciative of the impressive volume and fast turnaround of this Q&A. Thanks!

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | February 1, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Joe Jackson, Molly Hatchet, John Prine, White Stripes... a cornucopia of musical tastes on Soccer Insider.

Great job, Steve, as always.

"Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive..."

Posted by: Joe Doc | February 1, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I heard my cousin say down in the west coat, that Luis Figo is coming to LA Galaxy? Any word if this is true??

Posted by: yo its me | February 1, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Goff,

I didn't see this on your Q&A and I know I'm late - but with Liverpool's Fans launching their own intiative to oust the Yanks and MyFootballClub.com up and running - how do you think these will work, what implications will they have with Seattle?

Also, are you a Three Dog Night fan?

Posted by: UVA-United | February 1, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"John Hiatt is a pop 40 hack"

Whoa. Hiatt rules...and so does Joe Jackson.

Posted by: KR in DC | February 1, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive..."

Posted by: Joe Doc | February 1, 2008 09:32 AM

Well said. For those using a wireless connection, Steve's Invisible Airways crackle with life.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | February 1, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

If John Prine had never released a single recording after his first album, he would still be transcendant. I like John Hiatt, I listen to John Hiatt, I have several of his albums; but John Prine is on the very very short list of the best songwriters this country has ever produced in its 232 year history. John Hiatt has never come up with anything that approaches "Angel From Montgomery." Hope this clears things up, Senor Goff!

Posted by: Bootsy | February 1, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"That ain't the way to have fun, son"

Posted by: WNT fan | February 1, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Beg to differ Boots but if you get into Hiatt's anthology album you'll see dozens of songs that sparkle and are every bit as poignant and well written as Prine's work. Lipstick Sunset comes immediately to mind.

I remember watching the old "Sessions on West 54th St" show that Hiatt used to host. One day he had John prine on. I remember thinking...Wow, two of the greatest songwriters EVER, sitting and chatting. I wish they would've joined forces and put out an album together. Much like Little Village...

Posted by: Chico | February 1, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Goff, thanks for the long, detailed QA session.

Great stuff as usual.

Posted by: Golden Child | February 1, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

How come no-one is talking about Verdi. 60,000 fans singing Aida must count for something.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | February 1, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"Q. Joe Jackson or Graham Nash?

A. One More Time, it's Joe."

see you in the RAIN at the 9:30 on April 10th.

Posted by: the other RK | February 1, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Put me in the White Stripes corner

Posted by: p | February 1, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive..."

Right on, Joe Doc. "Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free!"

Posted by: 2112 | February 1, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

If Five Guys was the DCU shirt sponsor I would be first in line for the new jersey and I'm a RBNY fan. Five Guys...mmmm!

Posted by: Nick | February 1, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Lancaster County, PA now has 5 Guys. I may never eat healthy again!

Posted by: We have ARRIVED | February 1, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

This was awesome. Thanks Goff.

Posted by: We're not worthy! | February 1, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I still vote for Eastern Motors.

Thanks, Goff, as always. this is how you do a Q&A!

so, we know that Obama is a Hammers supporter, and Hillary is a ManU bandwagoner, the only other question is: has John McCain ever seen a match?

Posted by: northzax | February 1, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: I wish I was Franco Niell... | February 1, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

We all have our own musical tastes, but most of the choices mentioned on this thread leave me less than fulfilled. Joe Jackson, John Hiatt, John Prine? Power Pop, New Wave, country, bluegrass, folk and good ol' rock and roll -- I like them all, just not mixed together. I think I'd prefer the older generation of genre-skippers like Cash, Kristofferson, Dylan, Orbison, and Emmylou Harris for their truly groundbreaking work.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | February 1, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'll chime in on the SS issue. It's an awesome accomplishment. I'm glad we won it. And I would go so far as to agree with the original post that I'd place it at the top of MY list of coveted trophies.

We've all heard the arguments on both sides of the issue of why we don't have a European structure to our league competition. I certainly don't have any control over it, and it's most likely going to stay the way it is for the forseeable future. But regardless of where MLS places the most emphasis with their awards system, it cannot be argued that being the top dog after a grueling 30 plus game season is not a major accomplishment.

DC Rocks!

Posted by: Matte | February 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't just referring to "playmakers", but DC's seemingly overwhelming lack of interest in getting US players at ANY attacking position (Olsen a DM playing at RM the only possibility right now). Noone in the pipeline either.

Posted by: L Dykstra | February 1, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Houston has Ching, Davis, Mullan, Holden, & Ashe. New England had Twelman, Noonan, Ralston, Thompson, Cristman. I guess my question wasn't communicated clearly. If everyone follows the DC approach of sticking the US player at fullback, DM, and keeper, I might as well watch the MFL or Argentinian league. I'm fine with awarding spots on merit, but don't agree with Payne's total lack of belief in the ability to fit contributing attacking US based players on the roster, much less having any in the pipeline.

Posted by: L Dykstra | February 1, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

So if Simms, Olsen, or heaven forbid Gallardo get hurt, apparently we have reserve mids Mediate, Carroll, and Dyachenko to go in; and Dyachenko is listed as F on the roster (but he may be more of a mid? I think SI has covered that before.) Anyway, that seems slim. Maybe Burch could take Simms's place, if need be, since he has offense capabilities; but it seemed like other teams caught on to Burch's offense skills quickly. Should be some interesting tournament games if Mediate, Dyachenko, or maybe Moreno (?) have to fill in for Gallardo.

Posted by: gringo | February 1, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't Fred be Gallardo's backup? Someone would then take his place.

Posted by: L Dykstra | February 1, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Joe Jackson, Molly Hatchet, John Prine, White Stripes... a cornucopia of musical tastes on Soccer Insider.
-----------------
And yet, no love for A3. Y'all are missing out on a great group.

Posted by: seahawkdad | February 1, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Add me and my buddy to the list of those who would snap up a Five Guys sponsored jersey. The checkerboard logo would look great with the red and black.

Posted by: JB | February 1, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

LeesburgSoccerFan -- Emmylou and John Prine are in the same generation.

Posted by: Bootsy | February 1, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

You are the man Goff, we would all be lost w/out you, American Soccer on Gol TV is nice, but having an in depth look at our local team like the one you gives us, is phenomenal, thanks for the job you do, you seriously need a raise!

Posted by: Jeff S | February 1, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Whoever asked the question about the "Got Goff?" t-shirt, consider yourself doubly sued.

-----------------------------------
Is anybody else really, really psyched that Goff has just been crushing it this week? I'm tempted to make some t-shirts or something to profess my undying love for this blog. How about "I'm a Soccer Insider"? Or "Got Goff?"

Posted by: Kenobi | January 30, 2008 04:42 PM
-----------------------------------

Posted by: Kenobi | February 1, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm fine with awarding spots on merit, but don't agree with Payne's total lack of belief in the ability to fit contributing attacking US based players on the roster, much less having any in the pipeline.
=================

US players with attacking jones get signed to other leagues. Dempsey, McBride, Johnson, Adu, etc all moved on. Jeff Cunningham and Ching are amongst the few exceptions (Donovan and Twellman both got Europe cracks).

Building a team with US talent is foolish in MLS, a feeder league. When DC was the USMNT club team ... our club got split up into tiny pieces. When we grew a generation of young American players over the last few years ... Convey, Adu, Perkins, Carroll, Boswell, etc all either got picked up by other teams, became muy expensive or got chapped about their futures.

There is a lot to be said for signing players from other countries who have little or no prospect of playing in Europe or their national team.

We have hardly ever had to worry about Gomez, Moreno (a bit last year to be true), Fred, etc being unavailable due to NT duty. On the other hand, Adu, Convey, Twellman, Quaranta, etc were busy all the time either with the full team or the youth teams.

DC can get foreigners who are just as good as our US players and have them consistently on the pitch. That is crucial for a team that plays so many games in a league that limits roster size so much. I think Payne is a genius in this respect. You want solid, veteran players who are always available and are content that MLS is a great opportunity for them.

Posted by: Liverpool_SC | February 1, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

love the answers. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: M2 | February 1, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I saw that Raul Diaz Arce was listed as an assistant coach for the U-20s in the Copa Chivas youth tournament:

http://www.ussoccer.com/articles/viewArticle.jsp_4947968.html

Posted by: Eugene | February 1, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

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