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Wednesday Kickaround

harkeswynalda.jpg*American soccer enters the unseemly world of Sen. John Ensign and England captain John Terry with this tawdry tale, which according to Insider sources, began during a D.C. United trip to northern California for a U.S. Open Cup semifinal in September 1997. No one looks good here: Harkes, for his alleged behavior; Wynalda, the notorious loose cannon who, in the context of the Terry scandal, decided to stir things up more than a decade later; and Sampson, who uses the revelation to help make excuses for the 1998 World Cup fiasco he oversaw in France.

*On an even darker note, American midfielder DaMarcus Beasley's BMW was set ablaze outside his home in Scotland.

*On a brighter note, Paraguay star Salvador Cabanas, shot in Mexico city, told his boss he wants to return for the World Cup. Meantime, another Club America player was shot, this time in the buttocks during a robbery attempt.

*On a lighter note, Ray Hudson, the former MLS coach and current TV commentator known for his clever quips and colorful metaphors, is the subject of an essay.

*The complete MLS schedule will be unveiled at 2 p.m. ET.

For today's TV listings.....

*Soccer on TV:
English FA Cup, Leeds-Spurs 2:30 p.m. FSC
Italian Cup, Inter Milan-Fiorentina 2:45 p.m. GolTV
England, Fulham-Portsmouth 3 p.m. Setanta
Spanish Cup, Sevilla-Getafe 4:45 p.m. GolTV
Copa Libertadores, Cruzeiro-Potosi 6:30 p.m. FSE
Copa Libertadores, Tecos-Aurich 9:30 p.m. FSE

By Steve Goff  |  February 3, 2010; 8:19 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Americans Abroad , D.C. United , MLS , Mexico , TV , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: D.C. United Schedule Announced

Comments

OK, I like to consider myself a dedicated USMNT fan, following the team for the past decade or so ... and I NEVER heard the Harkes-Wynalda rumor until yesterday. Was this an open secret that every other true fan knew?

I'm shocked, and to be honest, it does exculpate Steve Sampson and the horrible 1998 showing a bit .... that team did look out of sorts and now we know one reason.

Posted by: jofij | February 3, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I have nothing against with Wynalda commenting on things that happened in the past. The similarities are there between what happened within the US ranks and what is happening now in England. I always wondered why Harkes was left off the US squad when Sampson was in charge and I never forgave Sampson for not bringing him to the World Cup. The US with Harkes was FAR more dangerous than than the team that showed up without him.

I don't know what to think of Beasley's situation because this has happened to other Ranger's players as well. I have no doubt though that a bit of hate is involved and if I were him I would look to move on simply for peace of mind.

As for what is happening in Mexico, it is a shame, it is certainly tarnishing their image as a country. If I were a player considering a move to Mexico City I would think it over after not 1, but 2, players were shot within weeks of each other.

Posted by: elfelixg | February 3, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Sampson is a loser, plain and simple. So is Wynalda. Nobody gains anything from re-visiting this now. It's a personal matter for the Harkes and Wynalda family. Sampson once again shows poor judgement. It does NOT excuse the awful performance from 1998.

Posted by: DC0071 | February 3, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Did they literally just hear the Terry rumor, and say "That reminds me?" Sounds like a Wynalda move if there ever was one, although Sampson is a cretin as well. All three of them just deserve to go sit in a room and think about how ludicrous they all are.

As far a Beasley, get out of there, dude. You can't make it on the plane with your injuries and inconsistency, might as well find a nice league where you don't get fire bombed and injured on a regular basis.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | February 3, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I echo the sentiment that Sampson is a total loser. Wynalda is trying to sell a book. Pathetic. This story has been out there for years now. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe a word of it now.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

This "rumor" had been well-known in the soccer community since the beginning. I knew that it had legs when my father told me that he had heard it through a DC United player's father during a Metro commute. I always thought that it was interesting that it never went public. It did explain some things.

Posted by: billq1 | February 3, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Look, Wynalda got screwed over in this situation, he doesn't have any obligation to obey when the people who screwed him over put their fingers to their lips and say "shhhh!"

The people who come of looking bad earned it. It's his life and he gets to talk about it. And we know he loves to talk...

Posted by: teo_68 | February 3, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Yes Wynalda got screwed over IF, IF, IF there is any truth to the story. teo_68, you talk as if you have the facts. You don't. I believe but do not know it to be a fact that Roy Wegerle and possibly others did a hit on Harkes and took him out. Sampson is a fat headed idiot who spent all his time on the internet trying to bring player from overseas at the last minute to play for the United States. He is human garbage.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Wow Michael Bradley hasn't aged one bit.

Posted by: PEddy | February 3, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Good, now people can see Harkes for the bleep that he is. I've heard plenty of stories about what an ... he is, and this couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. And some people wanted him to coach?

I hope this vindicates Sampson a bit, and all coaches in general -- sometimes they make decisions that baffle us (Szetela???), but we don't know the whole story. Sampson made a difficult decision, and his career has suffered for it. The 3-6-1 didn't help, either.

I knew about the Beasley story last night, but I didn't have a link to it yet. Unbelievable. Here we are, chastising Mexico, when awful things can happen anywhere when stupid people are involved. That's the 3rd attack on his car.

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"Look, Wynalda got screwed over in this situation,..."

"Yes Wynalda got screwed over IF, IF, IF there is any truth to the story."

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

I believe it was Wynalda's wife who got screwed ;)

Posted by: ManOfLaMancha | February 3, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Sampson wins in LA and is fired next season. Where there is smoke there is fire. He's a jerk who should go back to coaching high school soccer.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Here is a fact for all of you: Harkes was married and continues to be married to the same woman during all of this. That has more weight than rumors.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

He's a jerk who should go back to coaching high school soccer.

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

Why subject the next generation of players to such things? Can't he coach a beach soccer team in Brazil instead?

Posted by: SoccerVA | February 3, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

Posted by: OWNTF | February 3, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Jesus Gene, you sound a lot like dsp87260 from Big Soccer...

There are countless couples who stay married after infidelities, especially with husbands who LIE about it, and refuse to admit it.

Posted by: DadRyan | February 3, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Wynalda looks bad in this at all.

First off, his (ex) wife slept with his teammate. He can talk about it anytime he damn well pleases.

Second, he hosts a talk show about soccer and his qualifications to do so are to lend his personal experiences acquired during his playing days. Well, it's not his fault the Terry story came to light and if he chooses to share his own similar experience, that is quite relevant.

He may still be an arrogant prick but I don't think he looks bad.

Sampson deserves credit for keeping dirty laundry in-house until Waldo aired it in public. I don't fault him for dropping Harkes over this and he gets a pass on that from now on. But this doesn't exonerate him from the France 98 disaster because there were many other mistakes in tactics, players, team chemistry, etc... that blew up in France that he is responsible for.

Harkes just looks like a scumbag. Not just for schtooping Waldo's wife but for then playing the victim, including in a book a lot of us bought, for 12 years.

Not only did Harkes betray his teammates (and his wife), he betrayed all of us by playing the woe-is-me routine for so long.

Posted by: mercedeskk | February 3, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Well DadRyan as you and fischy are The Founding Fathers of this blog, I will put more weight on what you say than an objective fact.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

@jofij

I remember hearing about the remember in 2000 or so when websites like bigsoccer.com became popular. I never believed it thinking that Harkes was a standup guy, but man was I wrong about that.

Posted by: no_recess | February 3, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Yeah this rumor has been around a while. Harkes even mentioned it in his book.

Posted by: grabowcp | February 3, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

This reminds me of Buddy Ryan cutting Cris Carter, seemingly without reason. Ryan never revealed why; years later, Carter admitted that he had an alcohol problem, and that being cut by the Eagles was the wake-up call he needed.

Just an example of things going on behind the scenes that we didn't know...

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Wynalda's a dooochie b/c he randomly decided to subject his three kids to an old, should be long dead story.

If these kids are in HS or Jr High . . the teasing is going to be endless. Nice job, Eric.

Posted by: delantero | February 3, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Here's another fact. Wynalda stayed with his wife for a while after the alleged affair. Do you really think he would have if it was true? These are all percentages of doubt here, but my view of them is that there was no truth to this. I do think Harkes tended to yap a lot (he missed the 1994 World Cup game for a yellow card for pointless dissent) and probably badmouthed Sampson, and some tattletale like Wegerle took him out.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Which is more important, who schtupped whom in 1998? Or the details of Charlie Davies' accident?

Posted by: OWNTF | February 3, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Is infidelity in for 2010? Just curious, cuz Elliot Spitzer was on the Colbert Report last night . . .

Posted by: delantero | February 3, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I was pleased to see that Charlie Davies has been asking himself how he put himself in that position. He didn't specifically say "Why did I break curfew the night before a game", but it is a start.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"OK, I like to consider myself a dedicated USMNT fan, following the team for the past decade or so ... and I NEVER heard the Harkes-Wynalda rumor until yesterday. Was this an open secret that every other true fan knew?"

Really? NY supporters were signing "Harksey is a swinger!" as early as August or September of 1998. It got around fast.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | February 3, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

You seriously doubt that Harkes nailed Wynalda's wife? Why? Who has anything to gain by making this up?

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Gene, you are a weirdo. The Charlie Davies stuff was creepy, but this just makes you sound b@t sh!t delusional.

Posted by: DadRyan | February 3, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Reignking: Put on your speculation cap. If Harkes was known as Captain for Life, and if you were Sampson or Wegerle and you wanted to get rid of him, would that be easy. Would it have to be something completely out of the blue and outside of soccer. Yes, it would.

If people just don't like Harkes, they should come out and say it instead of making stuff up.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Harkes was a great player for united, but lets not be partial here. IF he did slept with erics wife? how does that make Eric the bad guy? Also to me it seems like Steve did harkes and his family the bigger favor for not going public. Yes it may have also helped Eric and to some extent his wife, but seriously what did Steve sampson get for keeping this a secret? Nothing but grief from fans that think he was an idiot for giving Harkes the Captain for life title and then booting him out.

Harkes as a player will always be in my heart for what he did for United and US. as a person he is a -----. I am now glad that he was never offered a job here with UNITED.

Posted by: Norteno4life | February 3, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gene, if the park police released a report saying that Harkes had an inappropriate relationship with Amy Wynalda would you then believe it!?!

Posted by: DadRyan | February 3, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

DadRyan as Founding Father of this blog you are entitled to decide not to criticize any of the members of the USMNT.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I heard this back in late 1999 or early 2000, but when asking a couple of others who I thought might be "in the know" could not get any corroboration. Since that time, there has been one other instance where Harkes disappointed me with his actions and attitude. Not a stand-up guy in my book.

Posted by: soccerman | February 3, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Um, what does Wynalda have to gain?

People don't like Harkes. That's no surprise, from the many stories I've heard (not internet rumors, but people that have played with him, been coached by him, etc).

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I can't take it -- this Harkes news and Lost last night. Too much good stuff.

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"Wynalda stayed with his wife for a while after the alleged affair. Do you really think he would have if it was true?"

Without commenting on the rest of all this -- yes, a cuckolded spouse may try to stick around and maintain the marriage; do it for the kids' sakes, etc.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 3, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand how this makes Wynalda or Sampson look bad. Harkes put them both in a horrible situation and has done nothing but make it more difficult for both since (like going on the attack with his book or denying anything that can't be proven in a court of law - own up, for crying out loud). Who do they owe silence to here?

Having said that, Sampson's contribution in this was that he tried to run the 1998 team in a strictly hierarchal fashion. Had he shared some of the decision making amongst the team, at least there would have been more of a perception of honesty and respect within their community. It is important that, when things get hard, that players understand why things are getting hard and feel like they are being informed about things that affect them and that they have some kind of voice - even if the final decision is not theirs.

The problem is that it takes a skillful leader to keep a balance between hierarchal organization and community organization. Sampson did not have the skill or experience to keep that balance so he defaulted to hierarchy to deal with virtually everything. He was able to get away with it while things were routine, but when things got hard, it pretty much all broke down for him.

People talk about his infamous formation shift, but he had already sown the seeds for the breakdown when he made the decision to handle everything from top-down perspective without player input. There was no shared sense of responsibility for any decisions. How do you build a successful team when everyone automatically thinks that anything bad that happens is somebody else's fault?

Posted by: mddeblois | February 3, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I've met Harkes, seemed a bit of a jerk, but honestly, who isn't when your on top of the world in your chosen profession.

Nevery met Wynalda but have seen his analysist skills. Seems to me he's much more of a jerk than Harkes was. Regardless, they are two jerks who were great pro soccer players.

GeneWells makes a good point, though. Harkes is still married, was married at the time. Whether its true or not, personally, I think its a marketing/advertising ploy for people to buy Wynalda's book.

Posted by: dogboy | February 3, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Sampson should have been removed for bringing in David Regis from France just before the 98 World Cup. How is that for infidelity to your team and destroying team cohesion. He's just lucky he was Bora's assistant. That's how he got the job and then he coached the US team when it was in its ascendancy in the CONCACAF region. After a while people could see that he was a dope. His career has been pathetic since 1998.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Spot on Mercedeskk. And yes, there was lots of talk as this being the exact reason he was dropped back then. I know I also heard it through someone with connections to the program, so it wasn't THAT big of a secret.

Posted by: Henchlow | February 3, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Bigsoccer readers already knew of this internet "urban legend" long beforehand. It was unsubstantiated until Wynalda confirmed it.

Like others have mentioned, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | February 3, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Is infidelity in for 2010? Just curious, cuz Elliot Spitzer was on the Colbert Report last night . . .

Posted by: delantero | February 3, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

=================

Elliot's on the cumback trail.

Posted by: OWNTF | February 3, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

im surprised to see even a handful of skeptics on here. there was no conspiracy to remove Harkes GeneWells, this happened. Sampson made the right call to boot Harkes, and he suffered for it. Sampson is still the fall guy for '98 though. I'm disappointed to see him try and off-load some of the blame 12 years later though. anyway, we can all hope for the same outcome with England this summer...

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

1. The story (Harkes-Wynalda) is basically true. It's been passed around hush-hush within USSF circles for a while.

2. I absolve Wynalda of any criticism here in bringing it up. If he feels he needs to do so for getting closer by opening up, so be it. Personally, I'd think the better course would be to just move on.

3. The argument that it didn't happen b/c Wynalda and his wife didn't immediately divorce is silly. Lots of times couples try to "work it out" and sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. There could have been other issues we don't know about. But the point is, Wynalda has no reason to make this stuff up.

4. Sampson just looks like a fool for bringing this up. Screwing over Agoos (who got zip playing time in the WC) and bringing on Regis had a lot more to do with team chemistry than this mess (which I'm sure didn't help). If Sampson really felt it was such a disaster for team chemistry, he should have left Wynalda off the team. If you go back and look at that time period, Wynalda was just coming off of knee surgery, hadn't played in a while, clearly was not match sharp and also didn't fit Sampson's formation. Bottomline--Wynalda, even without the affair, was a bad choice for the team that year b/c he wasn't match-sharp. So it comes off as just punishing Harkes. I think a better coach might have done what Arena did with Beckham and Donovan: sit 'em both down and say "we're all in this together so the two of you don't have to be buddy-buddy but we've got to make this team work and that means the two of you have to be able to play together. So how are we going to do that?"

Instead, Sampson comes off as making excuses. For instance, I supose this means we should expect England to go 3 and out at the WC--yes? Our NT looked terrible that year for a couple of reasons:
--we were intimidated against Germany, they just schooled us that day. And after the first match it was all downhill.
--we struggled to score
--we were riding the talent and team of Bora Miluntonic of 4 years earlier and a lot of the key contributors on that team (Lalas, Dooley, Harkes, Balboa, Ramos, Wynalda, Sorber, etc.) were either absent or notably off their game in "98.

Posted by: JoeW1 | February 3, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I hope you believers in "if it is on the internet it must be tru" don't bring those reasoning skills to jury duty.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Scottish football is a f***ing toilet.

That's all

Posted by: Kev29 | February 3, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

GeneWells - with this blog being on washingtonpost.com and Harkes having playd in the DC area during the time period of the alleged affair, wouldnt you think its not that much of a stretch for some readers of this blog to have direct knowledge of this incident? I'm not sure who you are trying to defend here...

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

VTUnited: Yes we have all been reading this story for a long time. Does time establish a story's validity? Not in my world.

Direct knowledge would be to hear from the parties involved or to hear or be an eyewitness. You don't know anyone who has that. I treat these stories as if I were a juror. When it is a situation of he said, he said, then the default position is to accept the defendant's innocence.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gene were you on OJ's jury by any chance?

Posted by: OWNTF | February 3, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Although in this context, if the glove don't fit you must acquit takes on a whole new tone.

Posted by: OWNTF | February 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

No I wasn't on OJs jury but if I were I would have needed only a few minutes of deliberations to convict him based on all of the objective evidence, and would have given him the meximum sentence.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

actually Gene, I do. and while I'm sure mr harkes appreciates you playing henry fonda for the day, you look incredibly foolish.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@ Gene - the rules of evidence don't apply here. This is not a trial. The rumors have been out there for more than a decade, two of the three parties involved have acknowledged the events (with general details) and the third probably will never do so publicly. It's sad that the current events have devolved to a blame game and/or publicity stunt, but it happened and the team suffered for it.

Posted by: soccerman | February 3, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Gene - I don't understand why you're sticking up for Harkes so much. Read between the lines of his own quote:

"I am not going to rehash the things that have happened in the past," Harkes said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "1998 was devastating to me and my family. It was hard enough not to play in the World Cup, but it was even difficult to go through that time period, the most difficult time period of my life."

Posted by: joe_hill | February 3, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

This is a place where you can't criticize Charlie Davies for an objective fact because you are a fan (out after curfew before a game) but you can repeat unsubstantiated rumors about Harkes, who apparently is not well liked. Out.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

If Sampson had revealed this right after the WC, then I think it would be "sour grapes" and his making an excuse.

I tend to not believe rumors...and man, they almost always tend to be right. This time, I believe Brangelina are breaking up!

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Wynalda is a chump. Can't satisfy his wife and can't keep his mouth shut.

Posted by: FrancoNiell | February 3, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I've met Harkes, seemed a bit of a jerk, but honestly, who isn't when your on top of the world in your chosen profession.

Posted by: dogboy

True; there were plenty of dbags when I was growing up playing soccer.

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

@OWNTF: Wasn't "Who's Schtuppin' Who?" an Aretha Franklin song?

Nice Derek and the Dominoes ref.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 3, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

This time, I believe Brangelina are breaking up!
Posted by: Reignking
===============

Is Harkes boinking either one of them?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 3, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Gene - I did think the same thing when I saw posters who had criticized you for questioning the Charlie Davies story making John Terry jokes on this blog the other day...

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else amazed that there's an article about Sampson and the 1998 World Cup without mention of the 3-6-1?

Posted by: kolbkl | February 3, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sampson and Hudson...two of the most interesting articles I have ever seen referenced on your blog, Goff. Thanks!

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | February 3, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@GeneWells: I didn't realize that your perseverating on the name of the driver was because Davies broke curfew.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 3, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Perfect tjeme song for this whole mess..

The old NWO theme song from WCW...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWZ0gJ0HAyA

fade.
outro.

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | February 3, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I want accountability with both the driver and Davies. It is not an either or situation.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

/rant/
As a side issue, the "objective" evidence in the OJ trial was so ridiculously mishandled by the LAPD as to be worthless. Degraded blood samples, missing blood--there's a reason most of it got thrown out. Not to mention the other LAPD misconduct that came out.

None of it makes OJ innocent necessarily, but don't pretend that the "objective" evidence is the reason.

//rant off//

Posted by: vivzig | February 3, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

All very interesting but there's still only ....

Posted by: Curious99 | February 3, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

actually Gene, I do. and while I'm sure mr harkes appreciates you playing henry fonda for the day, you look incredibly foolish.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

HA! I love it! Gene, I thought you left when you said "OUT"

Posted by: dculoyal | February 3, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if anyone is going back to question Greg Ryan about Hope Solo . . . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | February 3, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

All very interesting but there's still only ....

Posted by: Curious99

...zero chance that you contribute something?

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

David Regis was the right decision for 1998 WC. Agoos was good but just too slow at that higher level.Regis was one of the better performers for us in that tournament along with Heiduk and Mcbride.

Arena has often been quoted that one of his biggest regrets in 2002 was not using Regis for the Poland game. Yes he played poorly leading up to WC 2002 but he was still a pretty good back and I would argue better than many of the defenders in our playing pool today.

So glad someone brought up the point about
Eric. He played very poorly as a sub in 1998. Ran around like a wild animal and could never make the right play. We all knew it was a risk bringing him over but who else was there to bring over instead? Sampson may have been able to handle the personal side better but he was right when he said many of the players from MLS were not of international caliber or were past their prime coming into the World Cup, and we needed more players playing overseas. I think he was a better coach than people give him credit for.

Eric was too critical of Arena in 2006 world cup. He of all people should know there were some stuff going on with some players who were not ready to play such as O'Brien and Johnson. At least he has a view and some interesting obsevations when doing play by play. I do think he has learned from it and has learned to town down his personal negativty. All you get from Harkes is safe banter and nothing really value-added as a commentator. I miss Seamus Malin very much.

Posted by: kennybenny | February 3, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Sampson's still a fool; but at least that explains the drastic action. I remember Harkes looked terrible in the buildup to 98, but I didn't think that was grounds for kicking him off the team. It doesn't surprise me that Harkes would do that; he doesn't seem like the most intelligent or responsible person. Seems like anytime someone says "im not going to talk about what happened in the past" it means "yeah, i did it." Otherwise they'd say "No, that did not happen." Wonder why his wife stayed with him if that happened, though.

Posted by: hacksaw | February 3, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I would agree that Harkes, Wynalda, Wynalda's wife and Gene Wells all come off looking less than honorable here.

However, I disagree strongly about Sampson. Actually, last night, I was thinking how tempting it must have been for him -- at the time and over the years -- to defend himself by explaining why Harkes was left off the team. I think that Sampson showed a great deal of character in keeping his mouth shut all these years.

Nor, do I fault him for finally opening up about it when a reporter asked him about Wynalda's comments on the FSC call-in show. There's really no reason any more for him to keep silent, and it's understandable that he would also comment on the years of silence about it.

I was in Nantes to see the pathetic no-show the USA turned in against Yugoslavia. I had plenty of uncomplimentary things to say about Sampson at the time. With this revelation, he has gained a few notches of resepect from me, at least with regard to his character...and a little bit with respect to his coaching.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@kennybenny -- it's "tone down", not "town down".

I do agree with you on one point: I grew up in New York listening to Jim Carvales (sp?) and Seamus Malin, doing Cosmos games. Best USA commentators ever. I miss Seamus Malin very much.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Fischy you are just the man to get the power of this soccer blog behind you and get Harkes removed from the Soccer Hall of Fame because of the facts that have come to light since his election.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Agree looking back on it that Harkes was just playing so so before WC 2008. What I rember most was all the complaing he did afterwords about getting thrown off the team. Come to think of it didn't a bunch of the 1998 squad say after the tournament that it was stupid and a shock to kick Harkes off so late in the game. If this was common knowledge to them I wouldn't have said that or would have kept my mouth shut. I rember quite a few players bad mouthing Sampson in 1998. Given what we know now I find that curious. Didn't he fine some of them and then the fines got reversed when he got fired? Anyone remember who he fined? I recall some players spoke out anonymously but others had nno problems speaking to the press at the time. There are definitely clickes on a team. Often by postition. I felt sorry for Regis a bit in 2002 because most players just ignored him in Korea and didn't talk to him-like he wasn't even part of the team. Meola was another story..

Posted by: kennybenny | February 3, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I really dont get how someone can logically defend harkes by saying its a baseless lie by attacking wegerle with an even worse level of spurious conjecture. seriously dude, you're whole defense relies on wegerle being the worst type of human being around.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | February 3, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Could be just as well that Sampson made up the bit about Wegerle. The point is that all of this is conjecture without objective facts so the default position is to accept that Harkes is innocent.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@Gene -- I think Harkes brings discredit to his status as a person and a teammate. A mensch he's not. But, he was one of the best footballers this country has produced. He belonged on the Cup team and in the Hall. While I respect Sampson for keeping his mouth shut all those years, I don't agree with his decision in '98. Sampson should have stripped his captaincy, but exiling him from the team wasn't the right move. It penalized all the players on the team.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

yeah -I know I can't spell.

Too criticize the coarch during and right after such a big tournament in the media is unprofessional if you ask me. I'm not referring to Harkes here but some of the other players.If i'm not mistaken Eric was one of the loud complainers to the press at the time even though he played like crap. Maybe that is why Sampson kept the team away from everything in France and didn't allow them to see their wives. Talk about potential distractions. Think about all that stuff now!!!

Posted by: kennybenny | February 3, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Could be just as well that Sampson made up the bit about Wegerle. The point is that all of this is conjecture without objective facts so the default position is to accept that Harkes is innocent.

Posted by: GeneWells

What do you want, a video tape of Harkes & Mrs. Wynalda?

Now you are just being obstinate.

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to echo Fischy's comment that this conversation in no way makes Sampson look bad. Harkes won the PR war between them right from the get-go in 1998; most of the media coverage was sympathetic towards him. It would have been very easy for Sampson to change that dynamic by talking about Harkes's affair. It would have erased the sympathy JH was getting. But he didn't, and he only talked about it 12 years after the fact when an AP reporter contacted him and directly asked him about what Wynalda said on the Fox show. I think he handled this very honorably, especially considering the impact that all this had on his own coaching career.

Frankly I'm a little surprise that this didn't come out sooner. The Harkes and Eric Wynalda's wife rumor was all over internet soccer forums in 1998, but I don't recall anybody making the explicit connection between it and Harkes's dismissal. The leadership issues were supposed to be his refusal "to embrace the left back position" and his night of revelry with Joe-Max Moore after the Belgian friendly.

Posted by: amoffett1 | February 3, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if all that seclusion in France could have been imposed on Sampson by US Soccer. I'm starting to view that whole episode completely different now and am willing to give sampson the benefit of the doubt. There could be so much more that we don't know.

If the Harkes situation became too disruptive to team dynamics and Harkes wasn't in a good mental state I could totally see kicking him off the team.
Unfortunately, the team including Eric disagreed with that decision and as Eric pretty much said that impacted them greatly. I guess the Agoos thing just made things worse.

Posted by: kennybenny | February 3, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so who did Agoos cheat with?

Posted by: Reignking | February 3, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean, *now*, he's being obstinate, Reignking? He was being obstinate from the very beginning.

And hypocritical, too--here he is blabbing about being non-judgmental, but obviously judging all three parties involved, and everyone who disagrees with him (sarcastic comments about "Founding Fathers"), and defending it with obviously judgmental conspiracy theories about people "wanting him out."

Further, contrast the Davies case, where the 'accountability' he wants for the driver is for someone *actually being accused of a crime* and who has legal rights including the presumption of innocence; and comparing that to adultery, which is merely grounds for divorce and where the legal standard is not in fact presumption of innocence but only preponderance of evidence.

(Also on the subject of criminal procedure, the OJ trial didn't have an eyewitness. So which is it, Gene, do you need one to confirm a story or would you have convicted? Because they're mutually exclusive positions.)

Posted by: stancollins | February 3, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what happened in 1998? I have heard this rumor a few times. I am on John Harkes side because I am an idiot.

Seriously, if Wynalda wants to talk about it now that is his right. I think we (US Soccer Fans/DC United Fans) have other stories we should be talking about. Why bother on an old story about an 0-3 World Cup outing? Would Harkes really have helped that much? We might have beat Iran...

Posted by: grubbsbl | February 3, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

John Ensign? John Ensign!

You use Ensign as your reference? Who is he? You have John Edwards as a more current and well known reference. You have Gavin Newsom as a more pertinent reference (having an affair with the wife of a staffer). You have Bill Clinton as an even more famous reference.
Why would you use John Ensign? I guess because he has an R next to his name.

Posted by: MBBeachbum | February 3, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Boy do we need a fresh topic...

Posted by: JkR- | February 3, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

This thread is depressing.

Posted by: DCB23 | February 3, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to put myself in Eric's shoes. I hear this story in 1998. I then argue that Harkes should be on the team. In 2000 I play again with Harkes on the USMNT. I stay married with the same woman until 2003.

Possible but not likely.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Who's itching for the Leeds game? I hope they become the giant killers again! Great underdog story! And their forward, Beckford, has some great touches.

Posted by: nairbsod | February 3, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"Who's itching for the Leeds game? "
-----------------------------------------------------

Thank goodness. I was wondering what that itch was. Glad it's not a rash developing.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Why would you use John Ensign? I guess because he has an R next to his name."

Clearly because Ensign's affair was with the spouse of one his employees; i.e. it was with a colleague's spouse. Therefore it's a more pertinent reference than the other three you suggest.

Please don't bring these tedious allegations of political bias unless you think about it first. Especially in a soccer forum.

Posted by: amoffett1 | February 3, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Ensign has an "R" next to his name. He also has a "Sen." next to his name, whereas Edwards is an ex-everything who is only in the news now because there's a juicy tell-all book.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

MBBeachbum
In defence of Goff, the relationship of the players in the Ensign scandal match your "more pertinent reference" of Gavin Newsom.
The only people who really know what happened between Harkes and Amy Wynalda are Harkes and Amy Wynalda. Harkes denies they had an affair. Eric says there was an "inappropriate relationship". Has Amy Wynalda ever made a public statement about it?

Posted by: RobEmerson | February 3, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Let's agree to try and keep politics out of soccer...and soccer out of politics!

Posted by: soccerman | February 3, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The only person I feel bad for is ME. I actually paid to go to France for that World Cup. I still have nightmares about that Iran game...

Posted by: alan19 | February 3, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

MBBeachbum, if you want to crack Goff for perceived political references on HIS blog, then I suggest you go read the soccer blog over at the washington times...oh wait.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to put myself in Eric's shoes. I hear this story in 1998. I then argue that Harkes should be on the team. In 2000 I play again with Harkes on the USMNT. I stay married with the same woman until 2003.

Possible but not likely.

Posted by: GeneWells

-----------

I agree. It's much more likely that three men conspired a devastating rumor to a man's life, compromised the success of the national team in the single most important moment of their professional careers (and in Sampson's case, compromised his very livelihood) simply because the perp in question was "not liked", and then have the alleged offender refuse to deny any of the rumors that were brought forth about him.

Posted by: psps23 | February 3, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

psps23 - no comment from you about why Wynalda would want Harkes on the 1998 team after hearing the story. No comment because you cannot explain it.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm fairly certain that GeneWells = pb69

Posted by: VTUnited | February 3, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow, all those guy named John and not a single hooker involved.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 3, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe this moronic discussion continues, but let's see if I can't employ my legal training to kill it.

Gene -- You're hanging your "defense" on two supposed facts, which are totally undercut by one of the few people with any reason to know what transpired a dozen years ago.

You claim that no divorces came out of this (I don't know if that's true, but I'll accept it for argument's sake and because it proves nothing), and you claim that Wynalda wanted Harkes on the team for the Cup (Again, I don't know if this is true, but I'll accept for argument's sake and because it proves nothing). Your apparent premise is that if this happened -- or, more importantly, if Wynalda believed it happened, why would he want Harkes on the team? Why wouldn't the Wynaldas have split up? Ditto for the Harkeses?

I won't comment on their relationships, but I'll just point out that we know exactly what Wynalda thinks happened. He talked about it thes week on FSC. Ergo, those things you think prove it didn't happen because Wynalda must not have believed it -- they prove nothing..and, your premise is refuted by Wynalda himself. I don't know hat happened 12 years ago, but it's pretty clear what Wynalda believes happened.

Methinks you doth protest too much. I might say this seems to hit a bit close to home for you, but that would really just be wild speculation.

Please, move on. Give it a rest.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Summer 1998, in advance of the World Cup, around the same time that Bruce Arena took the DCU captain's armband from Harkes and give it to Marco? I recall that there were "leadership issues" with DCU as well and that Sampson consulted with Arena before removing Harkes from the WC squad.

Posted by: hlwh | February 3, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of hookers -- did ya catch Eliot Spitzer on Colbert last night? Hilarious and also meaningful, That guy should run for some office.

Posted by: fischy | February 3, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

This thread ended when OWNTF brought out "Layla".

Here's hoping Beasley has no more injuries this season, makes the World Cup squad, plays well, and gets out of Scotland.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 3, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different:

A few days ago someone made a tongue-in-cheek comment that since there is a new coffee shop in Anacostia, there ought to be a new stadium to go with it. It just so happens that this joint was featured in the food section of today's Post, and it is just a stone's throw from Poplar Point:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020200709.html

Posted by: universityandpark | February 3, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

This thread ended when OWNTF brought out "Layla".
_________________________________________

Is Pattie Boyd involved somehow?

Posted by: universityandpark | February 3, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

'hey, there's 100 comments on today's kickaround, must be some good mls pre-season chat going on... maybe somebody made a big signing or something....'

....

(oh god what am i reading)

Posted by: stairs | February 3, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone suggested the possibility that Wynalda could have made his point while leaving out most of the details? All he had to say was, "Yeah, similar stuff happened during my time with the national team, and I saw the problems it can cause." He didn't have to say it was in 1998 as opposed to, say, 1990 (when the USA also made an early exit); he didn't have to specify his own role; etc. As someone else has noted, that would spare his kids some problems.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 3, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

As for Charlie Davies, at least he made one good decision that night: he wore his seat belt.

Posted by: b18bolo | February 3, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Harkes and Wynalda's wife are at fault...Harkes violated so many trusts. Dig a little deeper and you'll find quite a bit of dirt...he's no angel...many issues...just dig some more...

Sampson is still a moron...but Harkes should have never gone near Wynalda's wife.

Posted by: LCR-54 | February 3, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I was pleased to see that Charlie Davies has been asking himself how he put himself in that position. He didn't specifically say "Why did I break curfew the night before a game", but it is a start.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 9:51 AM
__________________________________________

Do we know for a fact that any curfew was applicable to Davies? A long time ago someone raised the possibility that he had a minor injury, wasn't going to be in the 18 on that occasion, and the coaches exempted him from that curfew stuff.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 3, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

'hey, there's 100 comments on today's kickaround, must be some good mls pre-season chat going on... maybe somebody made a big signing or something....'

....

(oh god what am i reading)

--You're reading SI pretending it's Hax's chat.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 3, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

LCR-54 - Where do I go to dig deeper about Harkes? Please tell me it isn't the Internet. I just hope all of the posters at SI are never hit with a rumor campaign.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

@amoffett: concur. This conversation does not make Sampson look bad. Steve Sampson makes Sampson look bad.

That's like the discussion "do these jeans make my ass look fat?" No sweetie. Your ass makes your ass look fat.

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | February 3, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree the only people who look bad are Harkes, Wynalda's wife, Sampson and GeneWells.

Harkes for costing himself a chance to play for the USMNT ... Wynalda's wife for sleeping with her husband's teammate ... Sampson for doing a lousy job coaching ... GeneWells for not identifying who he really is and trying to create doubt for something that has been pretty well substantiated at this point. I mean I have had five different people people connected with US Soccer tell me about this over the years and Harkes has tellingly never issued a denial.

It's obvious GeneWells is somehow connected to Harkes. But we'll never get to the bottom of who he is, but who cares?


Posted by: masonhoops1 | February 3, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Masonhoops1: Are you illiterate? Harkes denied it in his book years ago and the article that came out today says the following ...Harkes has long denied having an affair with Amy Wynalda, and he repeated the denial Tuesday during a telephone interview.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Masonhoops1: This is from Soccer America. I suppose it doesn't count because he didn't make the denial to you personally.

After the Belgium match, and prior to a friendly against Paraguay in mid-March, Wegerle - who had played against and socialized with Harkes when they were playing club opponents in England -- informed Sampson he knew of the affair. Both Wynalda and Harkes refused to speak about the matter publicly, other than to deny the affair's existence. Harkes also denied it to Sampson, who nevertheless confirmed Wegerle's information and took several weeks to make his decision.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 3, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Is Gene Wells:Harksey Rules?

Posted by: DadRyan | February 3, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

I guess these forums aren't monitored? Too bad Mr. Goff didn't ban GeneWells for trolling this article wtih his nonsense. Is this guy Harkes agent or something?

Unless you're a child, it should be obvious from Harkes' quote that he's admitting to the affair - his wording is lifted directly from the politician's "How to admit doing something bad without actually admitting you did something bad" handbook.

I'm not a fan of Sampson's, but I think the effect this would have had on the team at the time is irrefutable. If you don't respect and trust your teammates your team will lack cohesion and motivation. These guys must have been shaken by the effect this affair and Harkes dismissal had - and Harkes is more to blame for that than Sampson.

Posted by: grognard66 | February 4, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Someone help me out here. How the heck did Roy Wegerle have "personal knowledge" of an affair between two other people? Unless he was in the room, it was at best hearsay. How could evidence that couldn't be used in court be enough to throw someone off a world cup team? Same for Wynalda. How could he "confirm" it? And what exactly is it about a rumor being on the internet for years that makes it believable? Sampson may have done the "brave" thing in not explaining why he was sacking Harkes, in order to try to preserve team chemistry, but he never should have got there in the first place. I agree with the comment above that he should have handled this like good coaches always handle these matters -- sit em down and tell em to leave it off the field.

Posted by: regularfan | February 4, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

DadRyan: Are you Greg Ryan? You know, the Steve Sampson of women's soccer coaches? The guy who makes crazy stuff up in his head?

Posted by: GeneWells | February 4, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

grognard66: I agree with you that this kind of thing would damage a team - if it happened.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 4, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

grognard66: You are the expert on denying something without really denying something. Pray tell - this was 12 years ago. How long should Harkes have to deny this? Can he be exasperated during a denial?

Posted by: GeneWells | February 4, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line - Harkesie's fatal mistake was leaving the DC United for the dreaded Red Bull.

Posted by: GeneWells | February 4, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Definitive last word on this from bigsoccer.com

No one to my knowledge has asked the former Mrs. Wynalda about it on the record, but...well, okay, here's what Wynalda said about Harkes after the disaster in France:


Quote:
"As far as I'm concerned, when he cut John Harkes he tore the heart out of the team and threw it on the floor and expected us to pick up the pieces," U.S. forward Eric Wynalda said in an interview this week with the San Diego Union Tribune.
(Boy, thank God soccertimes.com's archives are indestructible.)

Meanwhile, George Vecsey of the New York Times described Harkes and Wynalda as "best buddies."

Posted by: GeneWells | February 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

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