Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, Sept. 5, 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

Discussion Archive


Steven Goff: Welcome.

Always a pleasure.

So much futbol on the horizon: USA-Brazil Sunday in Chicago, Women's World Cup starting Monday in China, D.C. United on a roll, Euro seasons in full swing...

Some news to share: K.C. midfielder Kerry Zavagnin has been called up on short notice by the U.S. national team for the Brazil match, replacing Pablo Mastroeni, who has an illness.

Okay, let's get started...


Dupont Circle: Thanks a bunch for the Insider, it is my go to source for info.

My question is if you were in charge of the Galaxy, what moves would you make to make that team at least competitive next season?

Steven Goff: Wow, where to begin...

Assuming Beckham is back and healthy next season, the Galaxy will probably mount a search for a world-class striker to be on the receiving end of Becks' passes. The buzz is that Landon Donovan may end up back in San Jose, with the new expansion club, in which case the Galaxy would truly become Beckham's team.

Joe Cannon is solid in goal, but clearly they need some defensive help. Chris Albright's return from injury will help. In all, I think you will see massive changes in L.A.


Arlington, Va.: Goffster or anyone else out there...

I just heard that Summers will not be showing US-Brazil futbol because of something called the NFL.

Where can I go to watch this? Or will all the TVs be tuned to American football?

Steven Goff: I had not heard that, but you have plenty of options for public viewing.

check out this site for references:


New York, NY: Who would you consider to be the best woman soccer player past or present?

Steven Goff: Mia Hamm, of course, but some will make the argument that Michelle Akers was, in her prime, the most dominant force in women's soccer history. The player to watch now is Brazilian forward Marta, the reigning world player of the year.


Alexandria, Va.: Where is the Washington team in the new women's soccer league likely to play in 2009? The Freedomplex in Gaithersburg or RFK Stadium? Does their presence help make a better case for a SSS at Poplar Point?

And will they be called the Washington Freedom?

Steven Goff: To be determined.

The Maryland SoccerPlex makes a lot of sense for the time being, although seating capacity is only 3,200 (plus standing and sitting area on the hills behind the goals) and the facility is tucked behind a residential neighborhood. In the long run, I think you will see the team play at the new DCU stadium...if that deal is ever reached.

The team name will likely remain the same since the Freedom has been operating as a second-tier club since the WUSA's demise and remains under the control of John Hendricks, an investor in the new league.


New York, New York: I am a big fan of D.C. United. To me they're a great dynasty in the making. Still it makes me mad that a Mickey Mouse franchise like the Red Bulls get a stadium before D.C. United does. It just isn't fair since D.C. United has been a more consistent winner over the years. What's up with the new stadium situation in the District?

Steven Goff: The quality of the club has nothing to do with stadium plans. It's not like the league allocates stadiums.

The N.Y. investment group reached a deal to build a stadium; the DCU folks have not. Someday, oh, someday.

No news to share. Just Marion Barry making more public statements in support of DCU's plan at Poplar Point.


D.C.: I don't follow soccer much, but I'm curious to find out how D.C. United are able to get these international players (such as Emilio) while other teams don't. Does D.C. United have a better scouting system, or is it simply a matter of personal preference for the player?

Steven Goff: Every MLS club has international players, some work out better than others. Angel in NY, Toja in Dallas, Schelotto in Columbus, Emilio and Fred in D.C. have all had significant impacts.

DCU does have an impressive international scouting network in place. In addition, their video library includes clips of hundreds of players from around the world, so in case they have a chance to sign someone, they can turn on the TV and watch him in action. In the past, MLS teams have had to scramble for information and highlights, and make an abrupt -- and perhaps uninformed -- decision. Things are changing as the league evolves.


Columbus, Ohio: With the U.S. game against Catalonia rumored to be canceled, is there any chance the federation will schedule another game in Europe to fill the void?

Steven Goff: I am sure that, if the Catalonia match is officially cancelled, the USSF will attempt to set up an alternate game. It is difficult, however, on such short notice to finalize a deal. We'll see what happens...


Washington DC: Any recent news on Wambach's toe? Is she training at full speed with the squad?

Steven Goff: I will not arrive in China until Saturday night, so I have no first-hand information, but from all indications, she should be ready for the opener Tuesday against North Korea. They need her.


Alexandria, VA: Speaking of San Jose, any word on the status of a SSS for that club? Why did MLS violate its own rule about requiring a SSS for all new clubs?

Steven Goff: San Jose has plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in the near future, so I don't have a problem with the league's decision. Next year, though, the club will play in several different stadiums around the Bay Area. The positive side of that is exposure to a wide range of communities in a huge metropolitan area, essentially a re-introduction of the club; the downside is lack of continuity and the inconsistent travel demands on season ticket holders, as well as the awkwardness for the players of having to adjust to different field conditions.


Downtown DC: Follow up about Youth Soccer. The Post has a strong High School section, and I know that some of your editors, like Denunzio love soccer.

I still don't understand why High School is followed so closely. I hear the reasoning behind some of the local communities, but the teams that are always near the top are schools like DeMatha, St John's, O'Connell, etc., which bring together players from a large region.

For instance, Fro Adu didn't play high school soccer, but instead went straight to college, but he did play club soccer. Seems a disconnect in coverage.

Steven Goff: Fro played at Georgetown Prep and club ball in Montgomery County, then committed to George Mason. Freddy played at The Heights briefly before heading to u-17 residency camp in Florida.

I can't really answer your question about our youth soccer coverage, other than to say that most high schools represent their communities and attract a following, to some extent, no matter the sport.


Arlington, VA: so Brazil looks like they are basically bringing a loaded team to this game on Sunday. Is it going to be a bloodbath or am I being too pessimistic? Does the US stand any chance?

Steven Goff: I'll predict a 3-1 Brazil victory. Remember, this is a friendly, not the World Cup, and although some extraordinary skill will be on display, the hunger for victory, the lineups, the second-half substitutions will be different. The U.S. team will hold its own, work hard, put some good stuff together, but at the end of the day, it's awfully hard to see them winning.


Washington, DC: Have you had any contact with Freddy since your piece on him before he left, or heard if he's coming along, or frustrated or what?

Steven Goff: No, I have not spoken with Freddy, but I can imagine his uncertainty with a new coach coming in. I hope to get to Lisbon at some point this year or next.


Falls Church, VA: Will Benny Fielhaber ever get on the sub bench for Derby?

Steven Goff: They didn't sign him to fill out the practice squad. I'm sure he'll play in real matches soon enough.


Falls Church, Va.: Did Fenty really say that RFK will be wrecking-balled after this season? If so, was that a Freudian slip or what?

Steven Goff: Fenty does not think much of United, does he? Between the Poplar Point issue and that comment, you've got to wonder whether he really cares whether United stays in the District or looks elsewhere for a stadium site.


Potomac, MD: Goffinho,

First, I just want to say that I like your writing and I admire how you can write up good game articles quickly.

My questions have to do with the actual writing of the articles you write. More or less, how do you write the articles? Are you writing the stories during the game and editing afterwards? Do you take copious notes and formulate the stories after the game? Do you (and how much if so) do you use video replay after the game to flesh out your stories?

Best regards,

Steven Goff: Thanks for your kind words.

During night matches, because of the newspaper's tight deadlines, I have to write as the game transpires. It's not an ideal situation for observing every detail of the match -- and regrettably I miss things here and there -- but that's the nature of the business. The second the game ends, I have to file my game report for the early editions of the paper. I then head down to the locker rooms for quotes, head back up to the press box and re-write within an hour or so for the late editions. West Coast matches with their late starting times, such as tomorrow's at Chivas, are hell.

I prefer day games.



Brooklyn, NY: What's Emilio's contract situation for next year? Is he free to go?

There's an interview with him in a Honduran newspaper (mainly about how Honduras has offered to naturalize him if he wants to play for their national team) where he mentions he has possibilities in Europe in December.

Steven Goff: I do not know the details of Emilio's contract, but most MLS players are on year-to-year deals with club-held options. He seems to like it here and I know the club would love to have him back.


Washington, DC: Will Bobby Boswell be wearing the red and black next year? Given his league accomplishments, he has to be frustrated with his recent playing time.

I like that DC has built for depth this season but how does Soehn keep everybody happy with time on the field? Perhaps, it is one advantage of the extra SuperLiga matches?

Steven Goff: Boswell is under contract through the 2008 season, so unless some huge trade offer comes along, I'd fully expect him to return to DCU next season. The coaching staff was a little down on him this summer but after this recent benching, he seems to have rediscovered his form.

United has three players for two starting jobs in central defense: Boswell, McTavish and Vanney. With a busy schedule the next six weeks, Soehn will continue to use different combinations, but at the some point before the playoffs, he's going to have to make a decision. My hunch is that, at the end of the day, Vanney and Boswell will start and McTavish will be used in reserve in central defense, right back and defensive midfield.

Form, injuries, fitness.....all those aspects will go into the decision-making.


Silver Spring: Should it worry MLS fans that the league is increasingly

interested in paying big money to past-their-prime

international stars (Beckham, Denilson, possibly Ronaldo

and Zidane)? Does this model follow NASL too much?

Steven Goff: The league feels it has a strong enough economic foundation to spend money on big names. I wouldn't be worried; actually, I'd be excited to see some of these guys, even if it's just for a year or two. Angel has been spectacular, Schelotto still has something left, Beckham did some great stuff while healthy, Blanco has had an impact, and we'll see what happens with Denilson.

More on the way this winter? Probably.


Logan Circle: Any update on the relative success of this year's introduction of MLS youth teams?

Steven Goff: It's an early work in progress. I don't think we will see any substantial results of the program for quite some time.


Capitol Hill: Did you see the beating that Real Madrid inflicted on Villareal over the weekend? How great were all five of those goals? It almost looked like Ben Olsen and the rest of United out there ...

At the sametime, the Salt Lake City team is on a tear. Are these two teams for real?

Steven Goff: Has anyone ever used the phrase "the Salt Lake City team is on a tear"? ;-)

Don't let the results fool you; RSL is a bad organization in need of major changes -- again -- this offseason.


Washington, D.C. : Your thoughts on Bob Bradley's run so far?

Yes, I would have rather had someone like Pekerman, but I'm mostly a fan.

While I have some concerns about the way his Chicago teams generally played (tough but static and not particularly creative) he did at least have them moving and playing together, and showed more "life" with his approach to Chivas USA.

At this point in the cycle I have been more than happy to see him trade results for experimentation. It should bode well for the Olympic team which should in turn have us looking good for 08/09 and thereafter.

I do have to wonder about the Mike Bradley thing. He belongs, and he has great potential. But Rico Clark, while older, should not be fourth on the depth chart at this position.

He's playing at an extremely high level, probably better than anyone but Ben F., and in my opinion could be as good as any American outfield player with a year or two of consistent play at the EPL/B1/etc. level.

Steven Goff: Forget the friendly victories and losses, the poor results at Copa America. The one thing Bradley had to win was the Gold Cup, and he did. Having said that, at some point, you would like to see the U.S. team earn better results on the road, especially in Europe.

Bradley has built the player pool nicely, introduced new talent to international competition and begun positioning the program for World Cup qualifying, which begins next year.

Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark will be very much a part of the team in the coming years. I don't think there is a depth chart, per se, just circumstances for calling in players and setting a lineup.


Gaithersburg, MD: On Lalas. Did you watch the interview on Fox last night? Poor Lalas is getting no love from LAG fans. It was hard to look away, much like a train wreck. Would you blame Lalas or Yallop for LAG performance in this "Beckham" year?

Steven Goff: Lalas deserves blame for the construction of the roster, Yallop for his handling of Beckham a couple weeks ago. Mostly, though, Lalas is at fault. It will be interesting to see if he is still with the club next season (or even next month!).


Lyon Park, Arlington, Va.: Are you or other journalists covering the WWC concerned that the Chinese authorities might try to keep you from reporting on whatever you jolly well please about any aspect of your experience?

Steven Goff: I'm not very worried. I'm going there to write about soccer, for the most part. Now if I decide to show up at the SpongeBob toy factory with a lead inspector, that could be a problem.


Kansas City: Does Moreno still warrant the playing time he receives, or is Soehn sacrificing the maturity of some of the younger attacking players by using him the amount that he does?

Steven Goff: Moreno is not much of a scoring threat anymore (except on PKs), but he holds the ball under pressure better than anyone on the team. Look at what happened in Toronto a couple weeks ago: Dyachenko and Addlery couldn't hold the ball, so United's attack fizzled almost every time they worked the ball into the attacking third. Moreno entered at the break and enhanced the club's possession game. If someone like Dyachenko or Kpene had shown more this summer, perhaps Moreno would have been used less.


Steven Goff: Time's up.

I'm off to L.A. tomorrow for the United match, then on to China for Women's World Cup. I'm hoping to join you for a chat from there in a few weeks.

Meantime, keep reading the Insider and watch for my early-morning U.S. World Cup reports on



Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company