Soccer Insider

Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 16, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, April 16 at 1 p.m. ET to chat about D.C. United and other 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: Greetings from Estadio RFK. D.C. United has just wrapped up its training session in preparation for tomorrow's match against Columbus. Check the Soccer Insider for important news. Okay, let's go...


Pittsburgh, PA: Any comment on the Henry to Seattle rumors?

Steven Goff: Seattle would love to acquire Henry and Henry seems interested in playing and living in America. From what I hear, the Sounders are serious about pursuing him. Whether Henry is ready to leave Europe is another matter.


Charlottesville, Va.: How many more 4-0 blowouts until we see a second DP? Errr... Use the first one?

Steven Goff: Ouch! Double ouch!

Give Gallardo time before rendering a verdict. He's actually been pretty good, but his salary and background have certainly raised expectations.

DCU does have a second DP slot, but signing another one would be another 325K hit against the salary cap and cost the investors an unknown amount out of their own pockets. I don't think they are prepared for either at the moment.


Alexandria, Va.: In your educated opinion, what year will be the final season that DC United will play its home matches at RFK Stadium (or el Estadio RFK as it were)?

When can we expect to hear if RFK will host a U.S. World Cup Qualifier this fall?

Steven Goff: RFK forever!

The last chunk of cement will fall in 2013. Or 2023.

Negotiations are in the late stages for a USA World Cup qualifier at RFK this fall. From what I hear, it will probably be the Sept. 10 match against T&T or Bermuda.


Annapolis, Md.: What's going on with Ben Olsen's bad ankles? I read in your blog that he is taking a week off for therapy, but this inability to heal has been going on for quite some time. When do you think we can expect him back out on the pitch? Thanks for your time and response.

Steven Goff: There is another Olsen update on the Soccer Insider.

No timetables. The healing process continues. Don't hold your breath for an imminent return.


Blacksburg, Va.: A year ago, I lost two acquaintances due to the shootings here on campus. I want to offer my sincere gratitude to DC United and The Washington Post staff in helping to raise money for the Virginia Tech Memorial Fund as a junior mechanical engineering major and avid D.C. United fan, watching the black and red wear maroon for a night will be a lasting memory. To The Post staff, keep up the great work.

Steven Goff: Thanks for the kind words.

Our thoughts are with you and Hokie Nation.


Falls Church, VA: Do you reckon the Pope is more a Bundesliga or Serie A fan?

Also, is it true he was inspired by Olsen to name himself Benedict?

Steven Goff: Well done, Falls Church!

I'd imagine the Pope has embraced Serie A (Roma?), but his roots are with the Bundesliga.


Anonymous: I support United's decision to find talent in Latin America rather than Europe. What about Africa though? Is this a talent pool we might be overlooking?

Steven Goff: The top talent from Africa heads directly to Europe, but after seeing the performance this spring by New England's two young Gambians, MLS teams are probably improving their African scouting departments as we speak.


Pittsburgh, PA: How would the elite female players like Abby Wombach fare in MLS or other men's leagues?

Steven Goff: Terribly.

There is no comparison.

Abby is a wonderful player, but not in MLS.

Keep in mind that the U.S. women's national team often scrimmages against men's college teams. The one game I saw a few years back, Virginia's reserves beat them pretty badly.


Denver: Hey, is there any chance of a WC qualifier being played at the great Colorado Rapids stadium? It's a fantastic venue...

Thanks for the great news; the Denver Post leaves much to be desired....

Steven Goff: Denver makes perfect sense -- great stadium, a bit of altitude to mess with the opponent, a different city. We'll see. The USSF is close to finalizing deals for the three qualifiers this fall. RFK and Home Depot Center seem certain, perhaps Denver gets the other match.


Atlanta: I've recently received an email from D.C. United that says that securing a jersey sponsorship this season is a very high priority. Any news on this front?

Steven Goff: True, it is a very high priority. Generating revenue is always a high priority. The club has been in serious negotiations with a foreign automaker, but at last check, no deal was imminent.


Camp Nou, Spain: Do you think Tom Soehn's decision to rest Gallardo & Co and the short term embarrassment of a 4-0 loss to RSL will pay larger dividends at the end of the MLS season, especially during the MLS Cup? DC often looked tired and beat up come playoff time under Nowak.

Steven Goff: Terrible result in the short term, likely to be forgotten by July. Soehn has to manage minutes during these hectic stretches. He certainly expected more from his lineup Saturday. That said, I wonder about some of the decisions (Carvallo's debut at RSL, Mediate at left back, etc)


Rocko: Do you think when we are at full strength we are going to back to three in the back line on a permanent basis?

Thanks for doing these chats.

Steven Goff: Depends on the situation. Unlike last year, Soehn is comfortable switching to a three-man backline when necessary. We saw it against Pachuca and it worked out well. We saw it Saturday at RSL and it was a disaster. We'll probably see it again tomorrow. However, the four-man line of Burch, Martinez, Peralta and Namoff seems ideal.


Foggy Bottom, The District: After comments made by both Tom Soehn and Dom Kinnear, any chance the commish will reconsider the absurd scheduling in MLS? Both United and Dynamo have taken considerable hits early on because of CCC play (seriously, 4-0 to RSL??) and Superliga is on the horizon for the summer...

Steven Goff: Interesting that MLS cleared the schedule for teams competing this summer in SuperLiga -- an event they helped organize -- but provided no assistance for the more important Champions League. The coaches are absolutely right: You either have to reduce the number of games before and during these major tournaments or provide teams the means to improve their rosters -- deep rosters that can endure busy stretches.


Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: Do you expect to see the best available U.S. team vs England, Spain and Argentina?

Or will Bradley ignore FIFA directives on international dates and defer to clubs, as he has done recently??

Steven Goff: Euro club seasons are done by mid-May, right? So that should not be a conflict. The balancing act with MLS will begin, but given the prominence of the opponents and World Cup qualifying approaching, you will see a very strong U.S. roster.


Washington, DC: Not "imminent"?

I found your double use of that word in today's chat to be interesting.

Perhaps Olsen's slow healing process and the failure for DC United to get a shirt sponsor are somehow strangely related to one another.

Steven Goff: Clever, ain't I?


Silver Spring: I realize that MLS often does things without alot of transparency but do you think there is any truth the the allegations that the Galaxy's early season schedule was rigged to give them easy games and to puff them up with some early wins? Obviously it hasn't worked but many seem to think that the Galaxy get special treatment from the league.

Steven Goff: What about D.C. United playing Real Salt Lake twice and Toronto three times before Memorial Day? On paper, that's a nice schedule. Of course, Saturday's result at RSL undermined that theory.


Who Does the Pope Support?: Actually, the Vatican has a national team (no lie). They're very good on crosses.

Steven Goff: Another example of why the Soccer Insider and these chats have the finest audience in cyberspace.

Well played, lad


Falls Church, Va.: Some of the new soccer-specific stadiums being built seat fewer than 20,000. I know this is realistic for the present, but is it easy to add more seats to these? Do you know if they're being built with possible expansion in mind?

Steven Goff:20,000 is about right for most MLS markets. The smaller capacity also creates demand. Not sure if stadium expansion is possible at these stadiums, but it's not a top concern as long as average attendance remains in the mid-teens.


NYC: Who is your starting XI for the USMNT in South Africa in 2010?

Steven Goff: At this point, that's a tough one.

Howard in goal. Onyewu and Bocanegra in the back. Dempsey, Bradley, Donovan, Beasley (if he fully recovers), Altidore, Cherundolo, maybe Adu, Edu, Spector, Clark, Conrad, Pearce...

Sorry, I need more time!


Falls Church, VA: How much of a concern is it to MLS that the Dallas and Chicago stadiums are so far from downtown?

Steven Goff: I don't think it is a concern to MLS; they just want new stadiums that will generate revenue for their clubs, and with the suburbs booming, the audience is out there. From a fan's perspective, however, city stadiums are better -- atmosphere, ambiance, public transportation, etc.


Kernersville, NC: Any news on filling the other DP? Why have it if you dont use it?

Steven Goff: DCU is saving it for a rainy day -- if the roster needs an upgrade this summer, if the club wants to upgrade Emilio's contract, if they want to use it as trade bait.


Washington, DC: Can MLS afford to raise the salary cap in the neighborhood of $500,000 in the next year or two? If so, will it. As a fan this sounds like great idea but I wonder if the league needs to grow and become more robust over a few more years before inching up the pay scale vis a vis Mexican and other international teams.

Steven Goff: Mexico has one of the highest-paying leagues in the world, so it's going to be a while before MLS reaches that level. The cap needs to go up, no doubt, but the league and its investors have always preached a slow-growth approach.


FC Woodbridge: Do you see Michael Bradley heading to England once the transfer window opens?

Steven Goff: I'd imagine Bradley will head somewhere this summer -- England or Germany would be my guess.


Bethesda, Md.: Why is it that it takes United so long to figure out a jersey sponsor and a stadium deal, when other teams such as the Columbus Crew who have never won a trophy have both. It just doesn't make sense since D.C. is the preeminent club in MLS. How many more years are we going to have wait for this god forsaken stadium issue to be resolved. From a fan's perspective it is quite irritating. Thank you.

Steven Goff: Every situation is different.

If DCU wanted a new stadium right now, they could start building in suburbs. They don't. They'd prefer to be in the city and until those negotiations are exhausted, they are not going to commit to PG County.

Business negotiations take time. DCU will have a jersey sponsor soon enough. Other than the revenue to the club, I don't understand why fans are so obsessed with it. Does it really matter what corporate logo is splatted on the uniform?


Washington: Any reader who uses the phrase "USMNT" should be banned.

Steven Goff: The USMNT will play at RFK Stadium this fall. The USWNT will play at RFK next month. There, I said it!


Who, other than the USSF, uses those abbreviations?


Brasil, DC: Is Emilio angry about not getting DP money? Is that why he came to camp out of shape and isn't as sharp this year?

Steven Goff: Angry? No. He signed a contract. If he has another good year, the club will give him a new deal. As for his performance, it's early. Patience.


Kernersville, N.C.: I'm concerned with the team's speed (or lack there of). Between Gallardo, Emilio and an aging Moreno we're not the quickest bunch on the break. Only Fred is a true threat on the break, he's probably quicker with the ball than most of the rest of the team without it. Any chance we get any younger or quicker acquisitions?

Steven Goff: Kirk has some wheels but is not ready for regular time. At some point this summer, if the club feels lack of quickness is an issue, they'll pursue new players. Right now, what you see is what you get.


Arlington, Va.: I think MLS does a lot of weird things that seem to help LA and NY (and many would say DC), but this question about scheduling is pretty silly. You never really know which teams are going to be very good at any particular time. My question would be why does KC get to play all of their games at home? The MLS schedule NEVER makes any sense. It will be nice once we get to enough teams that it's a straight home and away, play everybody twice. And when there aren't a lot of stadium conflicts that will be good too. That should cut down on some of the weirdness.

Steven Goff: Very good point. Thanks!


Baltimore: Is it true that San Jose has a stadium deal done? Is Houston closer to getting a deal done? Is KC's stadium a done deal as well? If so, by 2010 only NE, DC, and Seattle will be playing in big football stadiums.

Steven Goff: San Jose is making progress to build near the airport. Kansas City will spend two years in the small baseball park before opening a new facility. RSL gets a new stadium late this season or next spring (depending on construction progress). New York has broken ground. Not sure the status of Houston's project. New England is in no hurry because the investors, the Kraft family, run the NFL stadium in Foxborough. Seattle will be at Qwest for the foreseeable future. Philly has plans. That leaves...


Steven Goff: We play 60 minutes here on the chat -- wish I could go 90 -- and the referee has blown his whistle. Adios!

Don't forget to visit the Soccer Insider regularly.



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