The ninth annual Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Star Game will be held on Saturday, July 31, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The tournament will feature all-star players from the Eastern and Western conferences. Major League Soccer will also present an MLS reunion match featuring players who competed in the 1994 World Cup in the 10th anniversary of the historic tournament.
East Conference starter and soccer player Eddie Gaven of the MetroStars, was online Friday, July 30, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the 2004 Major League All-Star Soccer Game at RFK Stadium.
In 2003, Gaven was the formerly the youngest player ever signed by Major League Soccer at the age of 16. He has been a member of several U.S. national teams (U-17, U-20 and U-23).
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Eddie Gaven: Hi everybody....glad to be here in Washington DC for tomorrow's 2004 Sierra Mist MLS Soccer All-Star Game at RFK Stadium. Look forward to answering your questions. Let's go!
Eddie, how soon before you think you are ready to test yourself by going overseas? What league do you think you'd see yourself succeeding in Europe?
Eddie Gaven: Right now I'm simply focusing on MLS and the MetroStars. If I was to go overseas late in my career, I would probably like England due to the common language and great weather .... just like Alaska.
Silver Spring, Md.:
Congratulations on cracking the lineup on the MNT. From your play at an international level, how do you think our young players (U-17 to U-23) stack up to some of the South American and European power houses?
Eddie Gaven: I think it's not as much of a gap as some people think. We've done well at the youth level, in fact, at the U-17 world cup, we made it to the quarterfinals against Brazil and other great soccer countries. Even though we didn't qualify for the U-23 Olympics, we still gained a good deal of respect from the world.
you've played with Freddy Adu for a while with the youth teams... how do you think he's transitioned to the MLS level and how long do you think it will take for him to become a dominant player?
Eddie Gaven: I think Freddy's done very well. Coming into the League as a rookie, he's definitely made an impact on his team. I've known Freddy since he was around 8 and I was 12, and I've seen grow as both a player and person. I look forward to playing with him this weekend and beyond, both against him and with him. As he gets more and more comfortable with playing at this level, it won't be long before he becomes a dominant force in MLS.
As a 17-year old Major League Soccer All-Star, I'm sure there are plenty of pretty young ladies that would love to hang out with you. How do you find time and ways to meet them without the normal high school experience? Or do they just line up outside your house?
Eddie Gaven: I have a girlfriend who starts college this fall nearby. I don't feel I missed the high school experience because I was training in Florida with kids mostly my own age. While there I still had the chance to do some "normal" high school stuff, even though I was pretty focused on my career point. Although we built a fence around my house to ward off all my "fans", I'm happy to sign autographs and talk to fans .... just kidding about the fence!
Eddie, do you think Bruce Arena might call you up for the Jamaica game on the 18th? Also, I've really enjoyed watching you and the MetroStars this year.
Eddie Gaven: It would be an honor to be called up for a qualifier, but ultimately it is up to Coach Arena. Right now I'm trying to play well in the League which will help increase my chances for future USMNT play. Thanks for your support.
How would you describe the sportsmanship of soccer players? Do you think that it is a competitive sport or do you think that the athletes work well within a team?
Eddie Gaven: We all get along off the field, but being athletes of a competitive nature, our goal is to win. For example, Freddy and I are friends, but when we play each other, its strictly business, especially the MetroStars/DC United rivarly.
Matt, Boston, Mass.:
Eddie, a few weeks back I watched you set up a play where you curled around and made a pass with the outside of your foot to I think it was Guerva. In that sequence you were completely dominating. My question is, given that it's only your second year in the league, where the heck did you learn to do something like that? What have you been doing or who have you been watching to develop that kind of creativity or instinct?
Eddie Gaven: Hi Matt.... while I didn't necesarrily have a soccer idol, I played a lot and practiced in my backyard against my brother. I also spent time just by myself working on invidual skills. My dad was a great coach -- he played at Rutgers -- and I picked up a lot from him. My club team was Hibernian F.C. out of Hamilton, NJ and we played against the top competition in the region.
Alex, New York:
Eddie, you are an incredible player at the tender age of 17, and seem destined for the national team (2006 is def. within reach for you). Do you see this as added pressure? Also, do your teammates on the Metros now look to you to create in tight spots? Are you gaining a more vocal role on the team?
Eddie Gaven: Making the 2006 World Cup is certainly a goal of mine. I don't see it as an added pressure since I don't really think specifically about that. I concentrate on just playing well and I know if I do that, I'll put myself in the position to hopefully make the squad. Eddie Pope and Amado are the team leaders, but I definitely have a bigger role on the team since last year. I think the team does count on me for creating and scoring goals. I'm not really a guy who is going to yell and scream, but lead more through my play on the field.
Could you clarify your EU status? Do you already have an Irish passport? Can you get one through relatives? Have any English clubs expressed interest in you, and if so, how serious does it seem?
PS...I'm a DC fan, so I have to close by writing, 6-2.
Eddie Gaven: I don't have an Irish passport. My family has lived here in the States for the past few generations. I have heard rumors about some English clubs, but at this point they're just rumors, and nothing more.
We still have two more games this season against DC... and don't expect any 6-2 losses. Hahaha.
What are your opinions of playing on the artificial surface at Giants Stadium? I'm sure you're happy this All-Star game is on the natural turf at RFK and what are your thoughts on the upcoming stadium for the Metrostars up in Harrison, NJ? Thanks and good luck with your career, especially with the USMNT.
Eddie Gaven: I'm definitely looking forward to the new stadium opening up in 2006. While I do prefer playing on grass, I've gotten accustomed to playing on the turf over the past couple of seasons. So far this season, we've played well on our home field and turf.
Do you think MLS will change all that much with the addition of 2 more teams? Should the league continue to expand? Do you think the regular season would be more intense if a smaller percentage (currently at 80%) of the teams made the playoffs? Thanks.
Eddie Gaven: I think the level of play will rise with the two new teams, especially more and more US talent making the jump to the pro level. I think MLS should continue to add teams as long as the level of play gets better as it has been. The current playoff format allows teams that may have started off slow the opportunity to come back and make the playoffs. But with more teams, less teams will make the playoffs, making the regular season more intense.
Do you sense any resistance from the older guys in the league about playing with teenagers like yourself and Freddy?
Eddie Gaven: At this level, age really doesn't matter. The only thing that matters if you can play or not. So I don't think that's too much of an issue. My first MLS game was a tough one... I think I lost the ball every time I touched it, but I learned from that. It has helped me become the player I am today.
New York, N.Y.:
Eddie, congrats on your recent national team appearance. What position, ideally, would you like to play in the future for the national team? Good luck on Saturday...
Eddie Gaven: Thanks.... my most comfortable position is in the midfield, probably in the center. However, this season I had experience playing up top as well as on the wing. I'm trying to be comfortable at more than one position hoping to increase my versatility which in turn helps with future national team call ups.
New York, NY:
Eddie, you've been great this season. What have you heard about the Metros trying to trade for Szetela, and if you can say, what players might be headed to Columbus?
Eddie Gaven: I played with Danny with the U-17 team in Florida and with the U-20 team now. I know whereever he plays, he's going to add depth to the team and make the team stronger. I haven't heard anything about trades, but it would be cool to have him on the MetroStars.
How do you view yourself as a central playmaker? It's usually a position that requires excpierence and the respect of one's teamates. How have your teamates felt about you in that role given your age?
Eddie Gaven: Everyone in our midfield shares the playmaking role for the most part. My teammates have been great in helpinig give me confidence and take on a greater role on the team.
At what age did you start kicking a soccer ball, and how much have you practiced soccer in your life?
Eddie Gaven: I first starting playing when I was four or five and I've practiced every single day after I turned eight. I would just go out and play every single day trying to get a good feel of the ball. And I think that's what helped me most become the player that I am today.
Park Ridge, NJ:
Eddie, what do you think is the best combination of forwards on the Metrostars?
Eddie Gaven: I don't have a preference and I think they all do a great job. Some have great speed and some have more skill, so I think having all of the weapons up there makes us a more dangerous team.
Eddie, do you have any pre-game rituals to get yourself ready for a big match? And when you're out on the field is it more gratifying to score a goal or to help set one up with a nice assist? Thanks for chatting here today.
Eddie Gaven: The only pre-game ritual I have is to listen to some music -- doesn't really matter which band - and I say a quick prayer before a game. Of course, you are helping your team by setting someone else up. On the field however, I guess there is no thrill like scoring a goal -- when you actually are the one to kick the ball into the net.
Eddie Gaven, what do you like to do in your free time? Are you a sports fan in general? Will you be able to watch the MLS Legends game tomorrow at 12:30 before the 2PM All-Star kick-off?
Eddie Gaven: In my free time, I like to listen to music, watch movie, play the piano and hang out. I'm not really a huge sports fan in general outside of soccer. I like watching highlights of different sports but don't necessarily track a team. I'm going to do my best to catch some of the game because I want to see my assistant coach Mo Johnston play. I heard he was one of the best goal scorers of his league and I want to see if he still has it.
Eddie Gaven: Thanks for all of your questions and hope you can come out to the game tomorrow.