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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 27, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, June 27, at 1 p.m. ET to chat about D.C. United, MLS, Europe and anything else soccer-related.

The transcript follows.

Goff covers the D.C. United beat for The Washington Post and writes the Soccer Insider blog for washingtonpost.com.

Discussion Archive

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Steven Goff: Well, howdy.

Ready to get started?

Giddyup.

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Normal, Ill.: Steve

Are you not worried about the upcoming Argentina match and the Copa in general? The U.S. is bringing an inexperienced team; the environment will be very hostile (okay, the U.S. is used to that, but a young team will be the least prepared); the U.S. is a tough group; and Argentina is fired up and looking for a big victory.

Having said that, I'd say if the U.S. hold their composure, victories are possible and making the quarters is realistic. What do you see as the U.S.'s goal in the Copa?

Finally, do you think it's worth it for the U.S. to enter the Copa if they send a "B" team?

Steven Goff: The U.S. team is using Copa America to give young players exposure against difficult competition -- it's that simple. Copa is not our championship; Gold Cup was. Bradley hopes this experience will prepare his young players for future competitions, most importantly World Cup qualifying. If the Americans sneak out with a victory in this tournament, it's a bonus. Winning, however, is secondary.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. The young players will learn from it (particularly what could be an ugly result against Argentina). In the long run, in the big picture, Bradley believes it will pay dividends.

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Kent, Ohio: Basketball used to be very boring. Everyone congregated under the hoop and waited until the tallest player made the score. All that changed with the introduction of the three-point shot. Why don't you do the same with soccer. Three points for scores outside the 16m lines; 2 points inside; 1 point for penalty; 2 kicks, if the penalty prevented a real chance for goal. This would bring up players who can kick from long distance, result in lots of kick to the goal and spectacular saves. Make a totally boring game to a rich dynamic one! Why don't you do it? Dogma??

Steven Goff: Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the world and most humanoids find it highly entertaining. (Did you see the USA-MEX match?) Why would FIFA make such a radical change? Subtle changes are always welcome in any sport, but to suddenly give bonus points for goals from distance? Not going to happen.

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Annandale, Va.: Steve, the Soccer Insider is just phenomenal -- keep up the good work.

Two questions for you.

1. If D.C. United does decide to bring in some foreign talent, what do you see the priority being? Outside defense (so Gros moves back to outside mid)? Best available talent (ie: don't walk away from a talented scorer or creative player)?

2. Christian Gomez has strong games and then somewhere he disappears? How much of that is Gomez, how much of it appears to be tactics of opponents (more man-marking) and the failure of United to get him the ball (ie: Carroll's early season distribution problems, Fred pinching inside, inability to spread the field and create space for Christian)?

Steven Goff: Thanks for the kind words. Insider rolls on...

DCU is up to something. Too much radio silence at the moment. At this point, your guess is as good as mine. The club has expressed interest in a central defender, but indeed, they could sign an outside back. Or, if they're looking at the long term, perhaps they sign a major attacking player (Moreno is past his prime, Gomez's contract expires this year).

Opponents have focused on crowding Gomez and disrupting his distribution. United has gotten better with its attacking diversity, but until the flank play becomes more dangerous, Gomez will find himself marked very tightly.

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Pants: So, who are we going to see as the back four? Now that Gros has a billy club, we see him in left back?

Also, could we sign Eddie Lewis and could we do it cheaply?

Any news on signings? You're holding out on us, I can sense it.

Steven Goff: Pants? Were you the subject of that ridiculous lawsuit in D.C. with the judge and the dry cleaner?? Nice to meet you!

Gros will play tomorrow. If Namoff does not play, they could use Gros on the right and Burch on the left. Or Simms could play right back. Or McTavish could play on the right and Simms in the middle. Many options...

Can't imagine the club is interested in Eddie Lewis, who is not really a defender and whose career is winding down.

Signings? I hold back nothing. Eerily quiet right now...

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Baltimore: When are tickets going on sale for the seconnd half of United's season? Specifically the 8.22 game against the Red Bulls?

Steven Goff: Huh? Haven't tickets to all games (except LA) been on sale all year? Ticketmaster...

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Vienna, Va.: Why doesn't The Post cover soccer a lot more?

Our national team is getting ready to play Argentina and just defeated Mexico. I went to this morning's sports section on washingtonpost.com and could not find anything about soccer. I have to go to Yahoo soccer or ESPN.

Your editor is a moron.

This city is international. A newspaper like yours that competes for international recognition should at least have a daily section to cover the U.S. soccer team during this tournament season.

I have heard about your lack of soccer coverage many times. You guys do not get it.

Pass it on to higher Mis-management please.

Steven Goff: Wow, that will make your day, huh?

We cover an awful lot of soccer. Given its status in this country, we do very well with it. Are we perfect? Of course not. But between the paper, the Web site and the Soccer Insider, there's plenty available in various Post forums. See, that's what's great about the Internet; you have a choice of thousands of outlets for news and information.

For further input, feel free to contact the "moron" sports editors at sports@washpost.com

Make sure you call them "morons". That should really help your cause. (sigh)

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Fairfax, Va.: Did Alexi Lalas's comments about MLS compared to the EPL have any truth to them? Could an MLS team be "plucked" from here and compete there? Are the styles of play much different or is the level of play that much higher? Thanks.

Steven Goff: In general, it was a ridiculous thing to say. But then again, we've grown accustomed to Lalas (how many teams have won championships under his reign?) saying ridiculous things.

Seriously, no MLS team under the current league structure, could compete over the course of a Premiership season. However, individual Americans have done well in England and Europe and will continue to do so.

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Raleigh, N.C.: Where would you rank Feilhaber's goal in U.S. history, SOLELY in terms of quality. Me, I have it No. 2, behind Kirovski vs. Germany in a 1999 friendly, and just ahead of Wynalda's free kick in '94.

Steven Goff: Hmmm, great question.

Wyanlda in the 1994 World Cup stands out. Donovan has had some gems.

Anyone else want to contribute to the list?

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Bethesda, Md.: What kind of resources/how much money does the D.C. United front office put into their scouting department? I would think with all of the international tournaments this summer, that the D.C. United brass would send their scouts to the U-20 World Cup as well as Copa America. Do you know if MLS mandates how much resources a team can out into their scouting department? Thank you, and keep up the excellent coverage of the beautiful game.

Steven Goff: DCU has built a massive DVD library of players from around the world. I am sure they will be watching the U-20 and Copa carefully. Keep in mind that this is low-budget MLS and if a player stands out in one of those tournaments, clubs with much more resources than United will notice as well.

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Bethesda, Md.:

On a scale of 1 to 10, just how badly do you think the Canadian team got hosed last week?

Steven Goff: I'd give it a 5.

But as Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad said, the team never should have put itself in that situation (down 2-0) in the first place.

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Arlington, Va.: When do Beckham tickets go on sale to the public?

Steven Goff: Monday. Ticketmaster.

Story is in today's paper.

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New rules: Keeper can't catch the ball. Punching and swatting okay, but no catching. That and adding a second field referee are the only changes I'd make.

Steven Goff: Disagree with the first suggestion. Worth exploring the second one.

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Gainesville, Va.: Looks like the Galaxy/United tilt will be a capacity crowd sell-out. Don't you have to go back to the mid-1970s to find a regular season sell-out at RFK? Cruyff's Diplomats hosting Pele's Cosmos?

Steven Goff: Great question.

For a regular season non-doubleheader, DCU has never drawn more than 35,167. They'll smash that when Beckham arrives.

Dips-Cosmos in 1980 was 53,351.

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Laurel, Md.: I freely admit I'm biased, but was the officiating in the Gold Cup really as bad and unbalanced as I thought it was?

Also, for all the (justified) outrage over the offside call to end the USA-Canada game, don't you think that Hume had no business still being on the field when he scored their first goal after his blatant shoving earlier in the game?

Steven Goff: You're right: Gold Cup officiating was, um, wildly inconsistent.

Calls go for and against teams all the time. It's just that the Canada call came on a "goal" and at a crucial moment of the match. It's just a game...

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Rockville, Md.: Please STOP your stupid player rating. You are worse than those ignorant FOX announcers. As I indicated in my earlier e-mail to you (which by the way you ignored), you lack the culture of soccer. Stop your editorial comments, just stick to reporting facts like winners and losers.

Steven Goff: Yes sir! Whatever you say.

Sorry, dude, but most readers enjoy the ratings. They are completely subjective, a fun little thing we like to do online only in order to add some spice to the coverage, and, yes, it is very much part of the "culture of soccer." And I am pretty confident, after years and years of covering games around the world, my "culture of soccer" is just fine.

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SE Washington, D.C.: Seeing what happened at Salt Lake, is Nolly a serious back-up solution to Perkins -- do you think he has what it takes to pull through for the club if Perkins goes down?

Steven Goff: Nolly is a fine, young back-up who will not play very often this season. Perkins is clearly No. 1 and, barring injury or Open Cup games, will be in the net almost all the time.

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"Disagree with the first suggestion": Why? It would increase scoring and prevent keepers from killing time. And I'm not saying that just because I was forward. I used to coach keepers once upon a time and still believe that they are an aberration in field play.

Steven Goff: I don't like it. That's all. Call Sepp Blatter. :-)

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Arlington, Va.: Do you think the USMNT has a chance to advance in Copa America?

I know their roster looks weak - especially against Argentina - but, maybe they have a little swagger after taking down El Tri in Chi-town.

Steven Goff: It's a very different team. And a very different tournament. Copa means something to the South Americans; it does not mean much of anything to us. The U.S. team will gain some experience, gain some exposure, perhaps earn a result, and probably go home after the first round.

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McLean, Va.: I am looking for a 3-5-2 with Erpen in the middle to be rolled out tomorrow night and we will hang on for a 6-5 victory. What say you??

Steven Goff: Ha! That would be interesting. I don't know if DCU would play a 3-5-2 again without Boswell there. But who knows? Maybe Soehn will shake it up again.

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Arlington, Va.: WHOA! You said "if Namoff does not play". Why would Namoff not be playing? I think he's our most solid defender.

Steven Goff: Details on the Soccer Insider.

Namoff has a hamstring injury and did not practice today.

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Fairfax, Va.: GMU Nation: Has there ever been a time at a match where you lost the line between fan and media? (Example: Do you scream for joy when Olsen or Gomez scores?) Do members of the media root for "their" side?

Steven Goff: I am not a fan of any teams or players. United's results do not affect me one way or another. I am, however, a fan of competition. I am a fan of human achievement. I am a fan of good storylines, games that end on time, and lively quotes.

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"culture of soccer": The best thing about the "culture of soccer" is that everyone's is better than the next guy's or the other country's.

I appreciate the player match ratings, even if I don't always agree with them.

How do you think tonight's Mexico/Brazil match at Copa America will end up?

Steven Goff: Thanks for the comments.

10-0, Brazil.

No seriously, I will go with 3-1 Brazil.

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Littles (CSN): I have always thought that The Post has had great soccer coverage. I think at least three writers were in Germany last summer for the WC and Goff was in Chicago for the Gold Cup.

Just wanted to say that.

Steven Goff: Gracias, Littles.

And just for that, I will plug Comcast SportsNet's Washington Post Live, which has a United guest in studio every week and a certain beat reporter live from the newsroom regularly (including tonight).

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Copa: Any idea on how much playing time Olsen and Boswell expect (or might get) at Copa America?

Do you think Bradley will come out with some different tactics, or will he stick with what got the team the Gold Cup victories?

Steven Goff: Great questions.

I'm guessing Olsen, with his experience and form this season, will start at least one game. Boswell will be a reserve in central defense, most likely.

As for the way the team plays, clearly the competition will dictate a more defensive posture tomorrow night. And with the level of inexperience on the roster, I imagine the Americans will rely more heavily on absorbing pressure and counterattacking.

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Rockville, Md.: After seeing Feilhaber/Clark dominate in the second half against Mexico, do you think Michael Bradley will remain a starter once WC qualifying begins? He's a good young player, but I can't help but think there is a tiny bit of nepotism going on...

Steven Goff: It's not nepotism. It's a coach getting a young, talented Euro-based player experience in big games. If his name were not Bradley, he would get the same opportunity.

At this point, there really isn't a starting "lineup", per se. Bradley is going through the player pool, learning about players in different situations, and planning for the future. Right now, yes, Feilhaber is a key player in central midfield and Clark showed well vs. Mexico. Let's see how things evolve the next year or so.

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Pants: Don't forget Clints Korea Killer. that was a world-class goal.

Steven Goff: Indeed.

How about Joe-Max Moore against Argentina at RFK?

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Gaithersburg: Do you think it's time to end the Taylor Twellman experiment with the USMNT? Is developing a striker who can score at the international level the top priority for Bob Bradley over the next three years?

Steven Goff: To me, Twellman is Jason Kreis -- an excellent MLS player who can't quite do it internationally. Nothing wrong with that; both had great careers. I'm sure Twellman will receive more call-ups in the coming year, but right now, he does not appear to have long-range prospects.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Goffinho --

What do you see as the pecking order for U.S. forwards, after the Gold Cup, assuming everyone is available?

Keep up the good work!

Steven Goff: Johnson and Twellman are the most obvious choices, but I'd love to see how Charlie Davies reacts in a challenging match. It's also quite possible Bradley will play with just one forward and load the midfield.

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Incredulous: Did you eat your breakfast this morning? How can you compare Wynalda's goal in 94 to Feilhabers? Totally insane.

I'll tell you what, go outside and do the following: First, kick a stationary ball while standing at least 10 yards from anyone else. Take your sweet time on the run-up and the aiming. Then, try to hit a ball on the full volley with people rushing at you, with no time to prepare. Be perfectly accurate. Rush back in and post which one was tougher.

Steven Goff: I didn't say Wynalda's was better, jeez! The person asked about great goals in USA history.

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Downtown, DC: Clarify why you think that a two-referee system might be good? I just want to hear what you have to say, and in particular, how do you settle what is a foul and what isn't a foul when seen by the same referees from across the field? How does a system like that work?

I, for one, like your editorializing.

Steven Goff: I'm not advocating two referees, and to be honest, it will probably never happen. I'm just saying it's something worth discussing. Four eyes instead of two on a large playing surface, something to think about, that's all.

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Copa.net: Conrad vs Boswell.

Who has the best online content?

Steven Goff: LOL

bobbyboswell.com is mighty impressive, but Conrad has got some writing skills...

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Section 332, Row 17, Seat 1: Thursday is my second to last home game before moving to California so why don't ya stop by and I'll buy ya a black-and-tan for all the good stories/blog upkeep you've done?

Steven Goff: Thanks for the offer, but I'll be busy learning about "the culture of soccer".

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Kensington, Md.: Two questions:

Your story on ticket sales at RFK for Beckham; I assume similar sales at other stadia around country: Has MLS considered what their response will be if (when) Beckham's hammy seizes up and his doctor orders him to Tahiti for the rest of the season?

More importantly:

What's the buzz about DCU from your colleagues when you yap during game? About Soehn? Do the they the team is too flawed or just out of sync, etc.?

Steven Goff: Injuries are part of the game. It could happen at any time. However, MLS will certainly have a public relations problem if Beckham misses extended time.

As for the second question, I don't usually talk much during the match.

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Olde Towne, Va.: With the USA squad all but doomed against a talent-laden Argentina team, most folks expect a score that "favors" the South Americans. Do you think the U.S. media will simply report this as a loss (possibly a bad one), or will any media outlets offer the proper perspective about the value of this sort of match (as a build-up to WC 2010)?

Steven Goff: Those who understand the game will offer perspective, but at the end of the day, 5-0 is 5-0. I'm not saying that will be the final score, but it's hard to explain a one-sided score to the masses.

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Steven Goff: That's it. Show's over. Really. Back in two weeks. Thanks for stopping by and contributing.

Of course, the party never ends at the Soccer Insider. Stop by, y'hear?

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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. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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