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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 9, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Thursday, Aug. 9, at 1 p.m. ET to chate aboutthe D.C. United's MLS season, take your David Beckham sightings and discuss all the hottest soccer topics.

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: Greetings. Thanks for joining me.

Ah, well the big day is upon us. Becks (but not Posh) is here in our fair city and will perhaps play a few minutes this evening at RFK.

Let's get this Q&A started so I can beat the traffic to the ballpark...

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Warrenton, Va.: So will he play?

Steven Goff: Who might you be speaking of? ;-)

I would be surprised to see Beckham on the field tonight given his ankle condition and his lack of playing time in recent weeks. Also keep in mind that this is a real match involving two sides that don't particularly like each other much and it is bound to get physical. Is this the ideal situation for a fragile Becks? Probably not. However, if the game turns significantly in one team's favor, perhaps he'll see some time. Nonetheless, it should be quite an atmosphere at Estadio RFK this evening.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I was wondering if you had any backstory to share on the failed United bid for Veron's services. Was it only about the $$$? Something else?

Steven Goff:$$$$$ and Veron's desire to remain in Argentina for the time being. Still a chance he could end up here next season.

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Rockville, Md.: Will parking prices remain the same for tonight's game or will they be higher as well?

Steven Goff: As far as I know, those parking fees remain the same.

On a related note, if you have tickets to the game and are planning to drive, leave NOW! Well, maybe not now, but give yourself plenty of time to reach the lots because it's going to be a zoo on the freeways, roads and Metro.

You've been warned...

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D.C.: Where do you put the chances of Veron being here next season? Also, whatever happened with the Okocha and Denilson rumors to MLS?

Steven Goff: Veron is possible for DCU next year -- or at least the club officials believe so -- but probably too early to say. Okocha-Salt Lake deal never materialized and the Denilson to Dallas negotiation seemed on the right track but cooled considerably in the past two weeks.

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RK in ATL: Is England manager Steve McClaren still coming to the match today?

Steven Goff: As far as I know, he will be at RFK tonight. Beckham spoke yesterday about how it might be a waste of time for McClaren to come over since, in best case scenario, Becks would only play a small portion of the match. However, McClaren has stated his interest in seeing MLS first-hand. I'll let you know on the Insider later if there is, in fact, a McClaren sighting in the director's box.

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Adams Morgan:

Out of all of the players in the world, based only on skill , what one player would you say is worth the price of admission alone? Is Beckham even in the top ten?

Steven Goff: Hmmm, good question.

Messi, Ronaldinho, Kaka are on my very short list.

Beckham in the top 10? When healthy, yeah, maybe.

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Arlington, Va.: Goffarino,

If the World Cup started tomorrow, who would you pick as your first 11? I am really interested to know if Gooch would be part of that group.

Thanks.

A bonus for you - Old and grey with a flour sack cape tied all around his head/He's still jumpin' off the garage and will be till he's dead/All these years the people said he's actin' like a kid/He did not know he could not fly, so he did

Steven Goff: Jerry Jeff Walker, eh? (I must admit, I had to double-check that lyric before replying here) Well played, sir.

Wayyyy too early to speculate about the next World Cup and really impossible to pick an 11, but since you asked...

Howard is in goal, we know that.

Onyewu, Bocanegra, Spector, Cherundolo, Pearce, DeMerit, Conrad, Simek, maybe Bornstein and Parkhurst, should all be in the defensive mix.

You've gotta figure Feilhaber, Clark, Dempsey, Beasley, Bradley, Convey, among others, in midfield, and perhaps Klejstan, Adu, Zizzo, Szetela, Rogers, Nguyen emerge.

Your forward options at the moment are Ching, Altidore, Donovan, Johnson, Cooper.....

What will be interesting to see is how many players are essentially phased out over the next year or so, veteran guys like Twellman, Mastroeni, Ralston, Hejduk. Just a thought...

I am sure I have missed a few in the big picture. My apologies.

Qualifying begins next summer!

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Herndon, Va.: I'll be at the game tonight...but that has nothing to do with my question. The Superliga games have been great -- very entertaining, very competitive. Do you think that's because of the $1 million prize or the US-Mexico rivalry? Would that kind of money make the US Open (Hunt) Cup more interesting and get MLS teams to take it more seriously?

Steven Goff: SuperLiga is off to a good start and should continue to grow in future years. I think what has driven it this summer is the level of play and fitness of the MLS teams. In past competitions, the MLS sides were woefully unprepared because of the time of year, while the Mexican clubs, already with a talent advantage, were in mid-season form. Playing in the summer balance it out a bit and allows the MLS teams to be competitive.

As for the Open Cup, the USL teams obviously take it more seriously than the MLS clubs...and for good reason. They have everything to gain by winning, while many from MLS see it as an inconvenience in the middle of a busy summer schedule. The key is the scheduling: If MLS and the USSF can work closely together and create a schedule in which MLS teams are not playing Open Cup games between two league matches the same week, it has a chance to grow. As it is, MLS rosters are not deep enough to throw a second unit on the field and advance far in the tournament.

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Van Neezy, D.C.: I enjoyed the match preview this morning in the $.35 edition Goff, and I check the blog regularly.

But to change the subject away from Becks; as an MLS fan I am growing concerned about the league's obvious inability to play the transfer market.

With Adu's departure and the paltry fee (by international standards) the MLS received, and the fact that rising talented players like Szetela can leave on a free transfer in the January window, does the league plan to address this situation?

Clearly, if the league wants to maximize the exposure of acquiring stars under the "Beckham rule", smart business would dictate that they figure out the best way to profit off of the sale of the young players going to Europe. Right now it appears that shrewed European clubs are figuring out that talented young American players are undervalued as compared to talented young European, African or South American players. For the long-term health and viability of the league, what is MLS going to do about this? What do you think they should do?

Steven Goff: Until MLS shows profits and increases player salaries, the loss of young players is inevitable. It happens to almost every league in the world. This is the situation in soccer, which, unlike baseball or American football, has to compete globally for talent. At the moment, many young U.S. players see Europe, not MLS, as their ultimate goal because of the level of competition and, most importantly, the money.

Can MLS collect more $$$ for their young players? They do the best they can, but if a higher offer is not out there, they have to settle for the best bid (i.e. Adu).

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Juneau, Alaska: Hi Goff -- The Iraqi's victory in the Asian Cup is one hell of a surprise. Now that they go to the Confed Cup and have the potential to play the USA, do you imagine a game with the states would get ugly?

Its Italy, SA, Iraq, Brazil and the States in so far right?

Steven Goff: Italy, Brazil, South Africa, USA and Iraq are in for the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Sport is sport. I wouldn't imagine any problems between the players, and with the games taking place in South Africa, I'd be surprised if there were any political implications at the stadium.

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It's Goff's World, We're Just Living In It: Let's talk MLS expansion. I know many factors go into the selection of an expansion city, such as stadium, investors, etc.

However, would MLS be smarter to expand into cities that do NOT have baseball and NFL football? Markets such as Portland, Vancouver, Montreal, and San Antonio do not have baseball and football teams. Wouldn't those cities be wiser than Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Phoenix, where there is already baseball and football?

Steven Goff: Major factors in expansion are investors with lots of money, a plan to build, or use, a suitable medium-sized stadium and the soccer market. If you've got all three of those items, you'll probably move to the top of the list.

MLS needs a team in Seattle or Portland, but they need the proper stadium. I loved Qwest Field for DC United-Real Madrid and seems sufficient for USL games, but in the long run, they would need their own place.

Philadelphia would be a great choice. I hate the idea of Vegas. Is it worth going to Florida again? Vancover would be intriguing. And a second team in the NY area will probably happen at some point.

I don't think you need to avoid cities with other pro sports teams.

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War of the Blogs: Any stats on the number of viewers/posts for the Soccer vs Redskins Insider? Could be interesting to see how the Beckham hype fares vs Redskins first pre-season game hype.

(and thanks for all your hard work with the blog - it's great)

Steven Goff: The numbers for the excellent Redskins blog have always been ahead of the Insider and always will, but not by as much as you'd think given the ravenous appetite for NFL news in this city. I'm sure, once the Redskins season begins, those numbers will take off again. The Wizards blog has made significant gains (why, I'm not sure) and Steinberg's Sports Bog remains the most entertaining read of all.

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London, U.K.: What's the status of Christian Gomez?

Steven Goff: Gomez will be a game-time decision this evening because of his quad injury. I would be surprised if he started.

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Burtonsville, Md.: Hey Goff,

Are you aware of any resentment among its legions of Hispanic fans that MLS has embraced and marketed a non-playing Caucasian, when it should he focusing on marketing rising Hispanic stars, as well as the sport as a team game?

Steven Goff: Some of MLS's biggest stars are Latin: Moreno, Gomez, Toja, Blanco, Schelotto, Emilio, etc. The league has also marketed itself as a team game, but at the end of the day in America, it's individuals who attract the most attention.

Beckham is the biggest name in world sport, a player who has transcended his game through style, appearance, personality and, um, marriage.

Now if only they could get him on the field...

;-)

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Owings, Md.: I heard that RFK was allowing fans to bring in water bottles tonight due to the heat. Do you know if this is true?

Steven Goff: I had heard that is true, but if you want to double-check, call the team at 202-587-5000.

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Washington, D.C.: I was surprised to see a Gillette razor commercial featuring Thierry Henry and Tiger Woods. Is Henry that famous here?

Steven Goff: No, Henry does not have much name recognition in the U.S. outside of our soccer circles. I imagine the commercial was created/filmed to be shown internationally as well. Just a guess...

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Falls Church, Va.: You think Beasley can hold up in the SPL with all the goons targeting him?

Steven Goff: Yeah, he'll be fine. He's been harassed before and he'll be harassed again. Some places are just worse than others, but for the most part, he shouldn't encounter many problems at Rangers.

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San Francisco: Do you think Jason Kreis will be in attendance, or will he just send a video message, should Jaime score goal No. 109 tonight?

Steven Goff: LOL!

Steinberg used that line in his Sports Bog this week!!

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Annandale, Va.: Great job with Soccer Insider--I think you've got the premier soccer blog in the U.S.

1. Yallop had originally talked about Beckham playing A-mid for the Galaxy. Given how late of a start he's getting to their season, is that still his plan?

2. At this point, who would be your MVP for all of MLS, and which player would go down as the biggest disappointment of the season?

Steven Goff: Yes, when healthy, I think he will play in the middle. That's where they need him the most. A world-class player like Beckham needs as many touches as possible and he will see them in the middle of the park.

Toja at Dallas has been exceptional. So has Schelotto. Shalrie Joseph is the key for New England. Johnson and Emilio have scored a lot of goals. Who am I missing?

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Little Rock, Ark.: Game to game -- whether MLS rosters or national team, men or women -- Abby Wambach seems to be the most dominant individual player in the U.S. today. Agree? What do you think the chances are that the WC stage will finally make her a star?

Steven Goff: Funny you should ask about Abby -- I am off to Chicago tomorrow to spend the weekend with the U.S. women's team as they gear up for the World Cup. Abby is a phenomenon because of her size, strength and finishing ability.

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Rockville, Md.: Once Vanney is fit, does he go straight into the lineup or is Boswell/McTavish first-choice going forward?

Steven Goff: Good question.

I think Boswell-McTavish is DCU's best central tandem, but with a busy schedule, you are sure to see Vanney on the field again at some point, whether in the middle or on the left to spell Burch. Burch is suspended for the SuperLiga semi at LA next Wednesday so I'd imagine Vanney or Gros will start there.

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Juan Pablo from New York: Goff, imagine where we would be without ME scoring goals up here. I'm MVP.

Steven Goff: Ah, of course!

However, Angel has cooled off considerably since his blazing start.

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Vienna, Va.: I missed out on getting tickets -- will the game be televised tonight?

Thx

Steven Goff: All the game information is in the paper and on the web site.

Yes, ESPN2.

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Alexandria, Va.: Steve, from your perch in the press box, how well can you normally hear the Screaming Eagles/Barra Brava during a typical DC United home game? Do you think you'll still be able to hear them with a packed RFK?

Steven Goff: The chants from Eagles/Barra echo through my head 24 hours a day. ;-)

I'm sure you will be heard, but please try to keep it clean. (I know, a futile request.) The usual obscenity directed at the referee is beneath the classy nature of DCU fans.

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Alexandria, Va.: Steve,

Not a Beckham question. Not a stadium question. You're welcome.

Can you describe the team's mentality going into the last half of the season? Is the defense on solid footing? How big is the monkey known as the "2006 end of season slump?" and has United gotten it off their collective backs? Finally, if you had to say now, where does United finish the season. Thanks!

Steven Goff: Stadium? What stadium? ;-)

It's been hard to figure out this DCU team -- poor start, nice resurgence, another swoon, and then an improbable performance at New England the other day. Who knows what will happen tonight. DCU should win convincingly against a struggling LA team, but...

It does not appear United will make any make international acquisitions this summer, but from what I am told, the club has been in trade talks and could make a move or two before the mid-September roster deadline.

Where will they finish? I think they, despite Sunday's result, they are still a bit behind New England in the East. As I have said all ummer, DCU is a good team with potential to be a great team, but until they find their way, they will not be a true championship contender.

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Laurel, Md.: Steve -- Thanks for all you do to provide the best MLS team coverage in the league. What's your take on Beckham and Lady Donovan's comments over the past week about Field Turf? Seems to me that with Beckham speaking out -- especially in light of his injury -- that it may move people to action. Am I correct to recall that it was a major injury to a (then) Metrostars player that moved Giants Stadium to put the temporary grass in for soccer back in 2000 or 2001?

Steven Goff: Well, here's the deal.

Toronto was required to build their stadium with turf in order for it to be used year-round. Salt Lake and New York are in the process of building stadiums with grass fields. New England's surface is dictated by the Patriots.

So I don't think it will be an on-going problem in the league. Beckham's comments, though, certainly brought the issue to the forefront.

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Arlington, Va.: As a long-time soccer fan and DC United fan I am a bit conflicted by the current state of affairs. All the local TV coverage of Becks has been interesting. Fox 5 has been staking out the city trying to locate sightings. On the one hand I happy that the game is getting so much attention even if it's just in a celebrity-culture-obsessed way. But on the other hand I wish the team got more attention from the general media (present company excluded) as well as the general public for times when Beckham and his hoopla are not in town. I have been very skeptical of spending so much money on one player when it could be used to give the guys making $11K a year a living wage instead and still have plenty left over. Are you surprised at all by how out-of-control the hype and attention have become?

Steven Goff: Not surprised at all. He's the biggest name in the sports world and one of the biggest names on our fine planet.

While it would be nice to see the poverty-level players in MLS receive a nice raise, the fact of the matter is that Beckham is a huge draw and those other guys are not. Should they be paid more? Yes, of course, but it has nothing to do with Beckham.

DCU will continue to receive a reasonable amount of media attention, mostly from print and internet forums. TV is jut not very interested in the day-to-day doings of a soccer team.

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D.C.: Any comments from Soehn or anyone else this week re: Clyde Simms' play on Sunday? I've been a fan of his for awhile, and I was impressed by his composure and passing ability against NE.

Any hints of a "position battle" looming between Simms and an underperforming Brian Carroll?

Steven Goff: Simms was superb at New England and might end up with another start tonight. Carroll has not played up to his standard this season, so, yes, we could see a nice battle for playing time there. Considering DCU's busy schedule, though, you could see one in the lineup today and the other in there next week.

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Bowie, Md.: Are soccer matches ever called b/c of the heat? Soccer and hockey players seem to be some of the best conditioned athletes. You'll never find a fat soccer or hockey player, but there are tons of fat basketball players.

Steven Goff: The only delays and postponements I've seen were caused by lightning, extreme weather, power failure or pitch invasion.

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Vienna, Va.: Is this the last year DC can rely on Jaime to be an effective goal scorer?

Steven Goff: Jaime is still a valuable player for DCU, a veteran who can hold the ball and create opportunities. However, all three of his goals this year have come on penalty kicks and he has not been as dangerous in the run of play.

How much does he have left? DCU loves the guy and will stick with him (when healthy) but I think they also realize his career is nearing an end and they will have to address the situation in terms of the roster/lineup accordingly.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Why is there no talk of redevloping the RFK site for a new soccer stadium? It seems like it would be simpler with the road and metro infrastructure already there.

Steven Goff: Not a bad idea and the new stadium may very well end up being built on the RFK grounds. However, MacFarlane and Chang see the Poplar Point site as a wonderful mixed-use development opportunity, one that could invigorate a neglected area of the city.

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Beckhamton: Considering he fills seats and has yet to play a game, and it would appear that most people are coming to see him because he's pretty and famous, may I suggest that United stop pursuing Veron as their DP and instead focus on signing Matt Damon? I know he's getting up there at 36, but surely, he'd fill the stadium.

Steven Goff: Sources tell me that Damon is on the way.

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Capitol Hill: So odds are Becks does not play. What will the crowd do? Does DCU have a plan for angry fans who paid $35 to sit in the 500s to see Beckham?

Steven Goff: United has no plans to offer refunds. Their feeling is that injuries are part of sports and, anytime you buy a ticket to a game, you run the risk of not seeing a particular player.

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Steven Goff: Okay, I'm done.

Time to get ready for tonight's festivities.

I'll return for another chat in two weeks.

Meantime, visit the Soccer Insider frequently! I'll have pregame news and notes this evening before kickoff and postgame thoughts, as well as player ratings, late tonight.

SG

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