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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 22, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, Aug. 22, at 1 p.m. ET to chat about the D.C. United and 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, my friends.

Welcome back to the chat.

Busy day of futbol: USA-Sweden, ENG-GER, other friendlies, DCU-NY at RFK. ...

Ready?

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Washington Dee-Cee: Dear Santa,

I've been really really good this year. Mommy says that if I keep being good I might get Veron this Christmas. I promise I'll be good all next year too if you do!

Sincerely,

Tiny Tim.

Steven Goff: Ho, ho, doah!

United seems to believe it has a shot at Veron for next season, but to be honest, no one really knows what the Argentinian's long-term plans are. I can't imagine we'll hear more on this issue until November at the earliest.

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Wheaton, Md.: Some are predicting an eight-figure transfer fee for Josy Altidore based on his recent form and U-20 World Cup performance. What sort of fee do you think he will command?

Steven Goff: Great question.

If MLS got $2 million for Adu, they would certainly receive at least that much for Altidore. A lot depends when Altidore heads overseas and what he accomplishes between now and then. Does he emerge as one of MLS's top scorers on a consistent basis? Does he receive a senior national team call-up and playing time? Does he perform at the under-23 level?

More than $10 million? I don't know about that. Let's see how things unfold over the next year or two.

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Florida: How good is Israel Sesay? Would he clearly start for D.C. United?

Steven Goff: No, no, no!

He's a very young player, a prospect who may or may not develop into a legitimate pro. Wherever he ends up in the lottery Friday, don't expect him to see much, or any, first-team playing time this season.

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Alexandria, Va.: What is the deal with Vanney? Does Soehn see him as a first team starter when he is completely healthy, or is he more partial to a Boswell-McTavish central pairing, with Vanney providing veteran experience on the bench and in late game situations?

You can probably guess which way most DCU fans feel on this issue. ...

Steven Goff: I still don't understand the complaints about the Vanney-Erpen trade. At the worst, the deal was a wash. United is no worse in the back after the trade and, although Vanney has not been the defensive star that fans envisioned, he is a lot more stable than Erpen. Also keep in mind that, once he becomes a senior roster player next season, Erpen may no longer be in the league.

As for Vanney's role, he is one of three central defensive options and can also play left back. Vanney-McTavish performed well the other night and I wouldn't be surprised if Soehn goes back to them tonight. Boswell, meantime, has clearly been sent a message by his benching last weekend.

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College Park: Great Goffinho, any score line predictions for today's U.S. match on the dreaded European soil?

Steven Goff: 2-1 Sweden.

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Takoma Park, Md.: Where do we set up a picket line to protest the lack of fan representation for the reserve match tonight? It's like having a closed J.V. basketball game. Ridiculous. Only in Washington, D.C. This makes Bobby Goldwater actually look good.

Steven Goff: Yes, it's true, no one will be allowed to stick around and watch the D.C.-N.Y. reserve match, which will begin a few minutes following the conclusion of the regular game at RFK. On the surface, it seems ridiculous. But the stadium has to send people home and clean up the stands. Paying overtime for a reserve match is just not going to happen. If you are really bold (and obsessed with a secondary game), you could hide in the pristine restrooms and sneak out to watch the reserves. I won't tell anyone.

;-)

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Asheville, N.C.: Is it safe to assume that Stephen DeRoux and Addlery are gone at the end of the season?

Steven Goff: Not necessarily.

DeRoux is a good kid with speed and some technique and is a decent reserve player. Whether he's ready for a jump to the senior roster is another question. Addlery is big and strong, but doesn't have much of a touch and might not return.

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Gros Fan: Not a question, but a word of thanks for your reporting on Josh Gros' health. Please keep us updated.

Steven Goff: No problem.

I suppose, after Gros sees a neurologist and other specialists, he could be cleared to play this season, but from what I hear, he is already being advised to shut it down for the year and make sure his long-term health is not jeopardized.

The fact that the simple act of heading a ball is causing problems is not a promising sign.

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Arlington, Va.: How soon will we be able to tell whether Beckham has had any effect on attendance at MLS games? And on the same thought, has DCU released any ticket sale numbers for tonight's match?

Steven Goff: 66,000 in NY, 46,000 in DC. They weren't there to see Joe Cannon.

In a broader view, many teams sold ticket packages in order for fans to guarantee seats to see Beckham, so crowds at other games late this summer will be larger than usual.

Tonight, I think United expects to draw between 17,000 and 20,000 -- which would be well above the norm for a weeknight match.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Steve, can we expect to see you at Maryland games this year? How do you see the Terps faring in the stacked ACC? Thanks. ...

Steven Goff: The Terps might be down a little bit after the loss of Seitz and Edu, but as usual, Sasho has brought in an impressive group of recruits who will join returning players such as Hall, King, Gonzalez, Yates, etc.

Unfortunately, because of United games and my trip to China for Women's World Cup, I do not anticipate getting out to College Park until late in the season.

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Washington, D.C.: If Landon Donovan were playing in Europe right now, how do you think he would stack up? Would he, for example, be able to find a position as a starter with one of the big four EPL clubs (or their La Liga / Serie A equivalents)? Or is he more at a mid-table starter level (or worse).

Steven Goff: Hard to say since Landon has never really shown the heart to play in Europe. He likes living and playing in America. In the right situation, Donovan has the skills to be an effective attacking player in Europe, but I don't think England would be the right place. Maybe the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain?

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Rockville, Md.: In spite of his inability to score from the run of play, will Jaime Moreno be Emilio's starting strike partner for the rest of this season and is that cause for concern?

(For the record, I would like to see Fred as a withdrawn forward but that may be impossible in light of the Gros concussion that you reported.)

Steven Goff: As long as he is healthy, Moreno is likely to remain as the withdrawn forward behind Emilio. Even without a scoring touch in the run of play, Moreno holds the ball and makes good decisions.

I agree, I would like to see Fred in that role at some point, but with Gros out and Olsen's ankle in need of rest on occasion, Fred seems certain to remain in midfield.

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Arlington, Va.: Any thoughts on Arsenal's apparent youth movement? Half the team couldn't even buy a beer here in the states. Also what did you think of the Henry transfer? Thanks.

Steven Goff: Seems strange to see Henry in a uniform other than Arsenal's. Soccer is big business and players will follow the money.

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Arlington, Va.: Is Old Man Reyna going to play tonight?

Steven Goff: He was listed as questionable with a groin injury. I do not know if he actually made the trip.

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: So, I'm recording the USA/Sweden game to watch when I get home tonight. I suppose I am pretty much guaranteed that if I want to watch D.C. United's game live and then the recorded one after, they'll spoil the result of the USA/Sweden game during the D.C. broadcast?

I imagine this will be moot anyways when I inevitably/instinctively return to the Soccer Insider this afternoon to get my DCU info fix and accidentally see the U.S. result.

Steven Goff: You are doomed.

Why not get the results online as the match unfolds, then go home and watch if you're still interested?

I have never been able to hold out, avoid all information and watch a game on tape without already knowing the result.

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Simple question: Do you own the shirt stating:

"I (heart) soccer moms"?

Steven Goff: But of course.

I am wearing it now.

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Alexandria, Va.: Have you bought a Beckham shirt? No, but seriously, I'm a bit worried about Josh Gros. My wife is involved with Alzheimer's research and there is a causal link between concussions and Alzheimer's. The more you get, the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer's. It's pretty scary that he has had so many. Is there anyone telling him he needs to really find a new line of work?

Steven Goff: Thanks for the input.

Oh, I am sure he will listen very carefully to the recommendations of specialists.

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Washington, D.C.: How bad is McBride's injury? Will he be able to return to form or is this a possible career-ender?

Steven Goff: Devastating injury to a player no longer young and not as resilient as he was 10 years ago. It will be months before he will even resume training.

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Washington, D.C.: With Rooney out, does Man U have a chance to break the top four? The Spurs look to be right in it, along with Arsenal who could actually string a few wins together with their quick counter-attack.

Steven Goff: It's a very long season. Man U will be in the running.

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Warrenton, Va.: How important is today's friendly in the grand scheme of things? Will we see the U.S. play overseas against tough competition more?

Steven Goff: It's very important to play quality opponents on the road, but at the end of the day, it's still a friendly. With a strong Euro presence on the roster, however, the expectation is for the Americans to stay with Sweden and perhaps get a result.

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Arlington, Va.: Is there any way the USWNT can lose the WWC? As awesome as the pioneering generation was, this new group seems to have built on that base and been made even stronger. Surely, this is due to the strength of girls youth soccer in this country and the college game. Have any of the other countries been able to build on their earlier teams? What happened to Norway which was always such a powerhouse? Or China for that matter? Are the Germans still good?

Steven Goff: The Americans are, by no means, guaranteed of winning the World Cup. Though they are the favorites and appear to have a team capable of dominant performances, they will face challenges from Sweden in the opening round group play and probably Germany/China/Brazil/Norway in the later rounds.

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Boston: New soccer fan here. What is the best domestic league in the world? What's the second best? Where does the MLS rank, what country's league would it compare to?

Steven Goff: Opinions vary, but I'd go with Spain first, Italy second and England third. You could certainly rearrange those leagues and make a compelling argument.

MLS? No better than 12th. Some would say further back. Hard to judge really because the league has been around only 12 seasons and is still finding its way in terms of players, salaries, styles, etc.

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Blacksburg, Va.: Goff,

Love the insider, keep up the great work! It might be to soon to judge but what is your analysis of Tom Soehn's first year as head coach? Do you think he has managed the DCU players to their full potential?

Steven Goff: Soehn has done a good job managing minutes during a busy summer, building depth through lineup changes and positioning his team to perform well in the fall. The players do not seem as worn down as last year, mentally or physically. Having said that, he is a first-year head coach and is learning as he goes along (Some of his substitutions could be questioned.) Overall, I think he's been fine and, although United is not the juggernaut its fans had hoped this season, the club is one of the three best in the league.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Why is it that Jonathan Bornstein seems to be favored over Jonathan Spector? Spector has to face world class attackers week in and week out, while "Johnny Chivas" lines up against guys like Eddie Johnson and Frankie Hejduk (good players, to be sure, but EPL quality)? Don't get me wrong, I love the MLS and think most EPL fans are full of it, but there is no denying the difference in quality. Why the love for Bornstein?

Steven Goff: Bornstein has proven himself in MLS and now is the time to get him int'l experience and see first-hand whether he can handle the pressures and demands of major competition. Bradley would rather find out now than in a World Cup qualifier next year.

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Herndon, Va.: Fred was obviously a nice pick up for the team this season. He has a beautiful touch on the ball and is starting to score some goals. What is the feeling around the club -- has he lived up to everyone's expectations?

Steven Goff: After a slow start, Fred has found his place on the field and gotten into a dangerous attacking rhythm. I think he is more dangerous now than he was a couple months ago and provides another scoring threat to the lineup. That goal last weekend was sweet, wasn't it?

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Reston, Va.: Gomez has had a very disappointing year and likely won't be back. Olsen and Moreno are definitely showing some effects of aging. What are our chances of making the cup at home this year? Should we expect wholesale changes next year?

Steven Goff: United is a contender, no doubt, but with New England's experience and New York's strike force, anything could happen in the East. United in the final would guarantee a sold-out RFK; United not in the final will make it tougher on the league to surpass 30,000.

United changes next year? Yeah, probably. Gomez might not be back and United clearly would like to add an experienced, high-priced player (Veron?) to the starting lineup.

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Fairfax, Va.: So you like to brag (and rightly so!) how Soccer Insider is second only to the 'Skins in the WP Blogosphere. Right now you're going head-to-head with Barry-Can-I-Buy-A-Vowel in chats. Are you able to tell who's more popular in the chatworld too?

Steven Goff: LOL!

We actually beat the Redskins a couple times recently in daily blog hits (thanks to Becks), but it's only preseason and the gridiron boys will come charging back. Nonetheless, given the Redskins immense popularity and soccer's still growing legions, I think we have done very well on the blog front.

Who's Svrluga?

;-)

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Arlington, Va.: Thanks to you for your excellent coverage.

Have you noticed the improvement in the defensive midfield when Clyde Simms is playing rather than Brian Carroll? It seems to me that B.C. is a decent defender but gives the ball away much too often which often creates opportunities for our opponents. I find C.S. to be a lot more confident on the ball and able to make the simple pass/make the right decision. Your thoughts?

Steven Goff: Yup. The coaches agree too. As Soehn said yesterday, Simms has brought some vigor to the field. Carroll has been a bit of a disappointment this season, in both winning the ball and distributing. For the moment, Simms is the guy.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: How much longer is the team going to let Moreno start with so little production? I don't know if he is carrying an injury or what, but ever since Copa America has just hasn't had it.

Steven Goff: I understand your point, but who are you going to start in that slot? Kpene has been good, but not great, Dyachenko has been inconsistent, Addlery is not the answer. As we've discussed, Fred would probably thrive in that position, but he's needed in midfield.

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Steven Goff: Time to watch USA-Sweden!

Thanks for all your questions.

Be sure to join our Soccer Insider community every day for news, analysis and game commentary.

Peace,

S.G.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over 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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