Soccer Insider

Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 30, 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.

Before we get started, let's take a moment to remember Gordon Bradley, the former Cosmos, Dips and George Mason coach who passed away yesterday at age 74. We've lost a true gentleman. The full story is available in the print edition and on the Post Web site's main sports page.


Rocko: How well did you know Gordon Bradley?? Do you have a favorite memory?

Thanks for doing the chat.

Steven Goff: I knew Gordon since 1985, when he was the first-year coach at GMU and I was a cub reporter at the American University student newspaper. Over the years, we spoke regularly, either in a professional setting or over a cup of coffee. We almost wrote a book together about a dozen years ago, but regretably I never found the time to devote to the project. My favorite memories were the phone calls. Before the days of caller ID, it did not take long to realize who was on the other end.

Me: Hello?

Gordon: STI-ve! It's GORE-din!



22314: Do you know if United will do anything soon in remembrance of Gordon Bradley? His influence in this area has been considerable, and needs recognition beyond the SI faithful....

Steven Goff: He will be honored at the next D.C. United home match, next Thursday night.


Arlington, Va.: How is Kevin Payne doing these days following his health scare a few months ago?

Steven Goff: He had quadruple bypass surgery over the winter, but has been back in his (mostly) regular routine ever since. Lifestyle changes were mandatory, I'd imagine.


Washington, D.C.: Can you ask your colleague Tarik El Bashir why he doesn't consider soccer a major sport in this town. In his piece today about Ovechkin and his MVP status he is completely dismissive about the MVP's that have been from DC United over the years (and he's not the only sports writer/sportscaster to do so).

It is called MAJOR LEAGUE soccer!

Steven Goff: I wouldn't include MLS as a major sports league at the moment, but I wouldn't include the NHL either.

There are two tiers: NFL, MLB and NBA followed by a big drop-off, and then the NHL, MLS and maybe the WNBA.


Kansas City: Was that Hillary Duff in the new Nike football advertisement?

Steven Goff: I don't think so.

Anybody else want to chime in on that?


Silver Spring, MD: Monsieur Goff,

Question about DCU's defense. How do you rate Gonzalo Peralta? Can we attribute his struggles to a new league and a new country or did DC sign Bobby Boswell 2.0 (a player not fast enough to play sweeper at this level)? If you aren't impressed, how long until he gets a blog?

Steven Goff: I'd say Peralta is better than Boswell at the moment. Peralta had a horrible game at RSL and a few shaky sequences in other matches, but in general, he has shown signs of becoming a quality central back in MLS. Boswell is a good player, but hasn't gotten much better in the last year. It's a long season, though. Let's see where things stand five months from now.


Washington, DC: Stadium? Olsen?

Steven Goff: No. No.

As in...

No news. No news.


Not in our lifetime. Maybe at some point this season.


Arlington, VA: Two completely different questions:

How are ticket sales going for the women's US v Canada friendly at RFK on 5/10?

What will be the final score of DC at Colorado on Sunday?

Steven Goff: I'm guessing 9,000 for the women's game. Not based on any early numbers, just an estimation for a friendly against Canada.

DCU 1, COL 1


14th & L: Lets just say that Emilio's scoring drought continues into the summer. Would DC United use their second DP spot for a striker? If they would do you have any idea of which "Big Name" strikers are available this summer or looking for a new club.

P.S. R.I.P Gordon, the broadcasts on HTS were great with you and you will always be remembered.

Steven Goff: If United decides to exercise its second designated player slot, it is probably going to have to shake up the roster in order to fit another big-name player under the salary cap. (A second DP counts $325,000 against the cap.) Impossible to say right now who would be available -- and affordable.


I Street: Do you ever take advantage of opportunities to interview the referees after DC United or other MLS games? Why is it that we almost never hear answers from them in your write ups?

Steven Goff: There are no opportunities. Game officials are not available for interviews after a match, unless there is an extraordinary circumstance (a rules interpretation, etc.). In which case, a pool reporter retreives quotes for distribution to all media folks.


Crystal City: Would you give us your prediction for today's Champion Leagues

Chelsea v Liverpool and Sunday's Colorado v. United?

Steven Goff:1-0, Chelsea

1-1 DCU and Colorado


Chicago: I see rumors of a VW logo appearing soon on the front of D.C. United jerseys -- any thoughts?

Steven Goff: The deal is not done yet. When it is, readers of the Soccer Insider will be the first to know. As usual. ;-)


Napa, Calif.: (My compliments for your blog. It is a valuable source of daily information for me.)

What do you think are the top 5 or so MLS rivalries? As a Galaxy fan, I've always cherished the DC vs LA feud, but I like Chivas v Galaxy and DC v NY. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

Steven Goff: Chivas-LA is No. 1 by virtue of playing in the same stadium.

Chicago and New York is going to be tense this year after Osorio's defection and the other personnel issues between the clubs.


Arlington, Va.: Quaranta has lots of talent. But why is it that everytime he gets the ball, he either kicks it forward or takes a cross. He has the speed, skills and so on... to take it forward and be more creative. Is it the system?

Also, how is Gallardo in the lockerroom? Is he one of the guys or is he distant from others?


Steven Goff: Santino is not a natural winger; he's best as a withdrawn forward taking on defenders, in my opinion. But there are times when DCU needs him on the flank, and with that comes the responsibility of attempting to serve in crosses.

Gallardo is one of the boys. I am in the process of writing a big feature on him, which hopefully will appear in the paper this weekend.


Vermont: Mssr. Goff,

A lot has been made of the potential wave of transfers to Europe (Altidore, et al). Have any of our DCU heroes improved their stock such that they might make the jump, as well? For instance, surely a European/Argentine/Mexican scout who has seen Fred lately would be interested, right? Clue me in, my friend.

Thank you.

Steven Goff: Not that I've heard. Emilio attracted interest in Mexico this winter, but his slow start to the MLS season won't exactly improve his stock.


Washington, D.C.: Why doesn't some company try to develop turf on which a soccer ball rolls, skips, and bounces similar to the way it does on grass? Have you ever heard of anyone trying to develop this turf? Has US Soccer, UEFA, or FIFA ever done anything to encourage the development of this turf?

Steven Goff: The new brands of artificial turf are as close to real grass as we are going to see. If someone were to perfect the fake stuff, you would see more of it. It's not from the lack of trying.

_______________________ Tarik's response -- "Here was my thought process on the matter: The NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA are each considered the top league in the world for their respective sport. I don't think the MLS can claim the same status among soccer leagues. Not even close, really. So how can the MVP of the MLS have the same status as the MVP of the NHL, MLB, NFL or NBA? He can't.

I'm not dissing United or MLS. I just don't think the MLS is on the same level as the Big Four. "

Steven Goff: response from tarik


Rocko: Has there been any fall-out from the Garber/Soehen comments about DC's performance in Mexico and the scheduling??

Thanks for doing the chats.

Steven Goff: Not a word publicly. Behind closed doors, I'm sure Soehn heard about it from either Garber or the DCU front office.


Silver Spring, MD: Goff,

Is Doe going to be enough of an offensive asset to dress for games, or is he strictly a reserve squad player who would give us some emergency depth up front?

Steven Goff: I'm guessing we will see him on the 18-man game roster this weekend. He's more than a reserve player, but with Moreno, Emilio, Quaranta and Niell in the mix, playing time will be hard to find.


Alexandria, VA: Can/will both US teams (mens and womens) win medals at the Beijing Olympics? If so, which team will get the "better" medal?

Steven Goff: The women are a gold medal contender, no doubt.

The men's tournament is difficult to assess because it is essentially an under-23 event (with three exceptions per team). The Americans went to the semifinals in 2000, so they are certainly capable of reaching the late stages. It'll be interesting to see what overage players are added to a solid collection that includes Edu, Adu, Spector and Altidore, among others.


There are two tiers: NFL, MLB and NBA followed by a big drop-off, and then the NHL, MLS and maybe the WNBA. : Sorry, there are three. The top one would include EPL, Serie A and La Liga. NFL, MLB and NBA don't come close to that type of intensity and fan base.

Steven Goff: We're talking American pro leagues (plus Canada), are we not?



Washington, D.C.: Steve,

Of the 12 or 13 Americans currently playing in the English Premier League, as many as 9 could find themselves relegated. While Convey, Johnson and Bocanegra will likely go down with their teams, and Dempsey and Feilhaber will probably find other places to play in Europe, what do you think the chances are that the veterans (McBride, Lewis, Keller, Hahneman) will come back to the States to play in MLS for a couple of seasons before hanging it up for good?

Steven Goff: Keller or Hahnemann could very well end up in Seattle (both are from the Northwest). Lewis? I can't imagine MLS teams would be willing to pay him close to what he's making in Europe. Not sure about McBride and the others.


DC:"I wouldn't include MLS as a major sports league at the moment..."

Will there be a moment when that will change, in your mind?

More money (in the league and spent on players)?

More teams (they'll be 16 for the 2010 season)?

More time?

More something else?

How can MLS become "a major sports league" (in your opinion) and when/how will that happen?

Steven Goff: Longevity, number of teams, TV ratings, major league salaries for all players, soccer-specific stadiums for all teams.....


VaBeach, Va.: Is/Was Emilio a one season wonder? He has been pretty dreary for United this season. Are what we are seeing, in your opinion, out of Quaranta so far this season (great effort, touch, shot) a sign of things to come or, as some are thinking, should we expect this to be another flash in the pan, trying to impress a team for a while until he loses his motivation?

Steven Goff: It's early. Let's see how much Emilio has produced by the end of June. Quaranta is in the best shape of his career and, equally important, has improved his attitude. He wants to be a professional and is willing to work for it.


Fairfax, VA: What is your take on Ruud Gullit, the LA coach? From reading the interviews and articles online he seems to know what he is doing and has an elightened perspective of the game and how it should be played. This is surprising to me as he was hired by Alexi Lalas. Help me reconcile these 2 facts before I go insane.

Steven Goff: LOL

I'm still not convinced he's here for the long term, but you never know. If Donovan continues to score and Beckham enjoys himself and stays healthy, maybe this grand experiment will work.


Falls Church, VA: I can never get the DCU radio broadcasts to come in. Are there any efforts by WFED (1050 AM) to strengthen its signal or by the team to switch to a station with a stronger signal?

Steven Goff: They just switched to WFED this year. Can't imagine they'll change again. Not sure if there are plans for the station to improve its signal.


Arlington, VA: First off, RIP Gordon Bradley.

Secondly, why does DC United have such a hard time playing consistently well? In the home match vs. Pachuca guys were running off the ball and moving it quickly. This seems to me to be the key to success. So why are there so many matches when that just doesn't happen? The players are the same. I suppose the opponent may have a little to do with it, but the general philosophy of move the ball quickly and then move yourself is the same no matter who you are playing. With all of the talent on this team I just don't get why they aren't able to steamroll everyone.

Steven Goff: The team you saw the first few weeks was worn down. Too many matches in too little time. In England, such a congested schedule is not a problem because the clubs have the depth to shuffle top-flight players in and out of the lineup. With tight salary limits, MLS teams do not have that luxury. Few MLS teams have more than, say, 14 legitimate starters.


got nothing: What do you think of the Miley Cyrus photos?

Steven Goff: Uptight Americans overreacting to nothing. "Oh my, what will I tell my daughter?? How awful!" Take your kid to a museum. Expose them to real culture, instead of pop culture.


Section 107: Steve,

Thanks again for being available for the chat and for the Blog.

I noticed the started putting a link to stats next to the game report, what a great improvement - please extend our thanks to whomever was responsible/approved doing that.

My questions:

1. Is there chance the WaPo will ever allow us to have a feature before/on game-day with any kind of analysis, things to watch, match-ups instead of just "human interest" stories with MAYBE mention of something game related (ie a line or two of "United Notes")?

2. Why are no stats other than attendence and the actual scores given in game reports? Why arent player stats (eg Moreno, 72 mins, 1 goal, 2 assists) provided? This is especially frustrating when they are for players in the other sports and particularly for out of market game reports?

3. Why doesnt the print edition provide TEAM stats for the game next to the game report? Granted soccer is not easily measured by stats, but there are some basic stats that actually provide some meaningful editorial context to the game (shots, corners, fouls, etc). Team stats are provided for the other sports right next the game reports while soccer, even for the HOME TOWN TEAM, are buried in the results page with only a minimal box score.

(you must know who I am...)

thanks again

Steven Goff: Statistics are nice for evaluating baseball and basketball, not so much for soccer.

We try to avoid nuts-and-bolts game previews -- most readers of a mainstream daily paper are instantly turned off by strategy, formations, etc. They want to read about people, their backgrounds, their experiences. I receive the most feedback from readers (by far) when I tell a good human interest story (McTavish balancing a disease with his blossoming career, a deaf player with Real Maryland, Carvallo's mom helping him get a job with DCU, etc.).


Washington, D.C.: Have you heard anything about how Alan Kelly is doing?

Steven Goff: I have not heard anything lately about DCU's former goalkeeper coach, who has been battling cancer. No news is good news, I'd imagine.


Arlington, Va.: do you get a chance to watch the other MLS matches over the course of a weekend/week or do you pretty much just focus on DCU? Are there any newcomers to MLS that have surprised you so far (good or bad)? Or is it just too early to evaluate anyone?

Steven Goff: I watch the Thursday night matches when I have time, and try, at the very least, to watch portions of other weekend games.

The young Gambians have been a pleasant surprise. Claudio Lopez are Marcelo Gallardo are going to turn out to be excellent signings.


Arlington, Va. : Gonzalo Martinez is my new favorite player. Will you be profiling him and the other newcomers to the team as well as Gallardo?

Steven Goff: Yes, I'm going to try to profile Martinez in the coming weeks. Gallardo is the priority.


nfl v. EPL?: really? the NFL doesn't compare to EPL? Baloney. The fan base for the NFL is just as rabid as Serie A or EPL, and deeper, I would suspect (bad NFL teams have much higher attendance and revenues than bad Serie A or EPL teams). The competitive balance is so much greater, it's not even funny. At the beginning of an NFL season (or an NBA season) there are usually legitimately 10 teams who you could see in the top two at the end of the season. I will bet my mortgage today that next year's EPL champion will be one of three teams, (and that's stretching to include Arsenal) and Serie A one of three or four. Sure, among those clubs the fan base is as large, but how many people show up to see Reading play Derby County? and I'm a Reading fan.

Steven Goff: another view to chew on


Re: Fixture Congestion: Is Superliga mandatory? Couldn't United just say, "Thanks, but we've got 18 other tournaments this year"?

Steven Goff: MLS has a stake in the tournament. United is a consistent attendance leader and one of the league's few internationally recognized clubs. I can't imagine they'd be allowed to say no.

Besides, unlike the Champions' Cup, MLS cleared the calendar for DCU to play in SuperLiga. No league matches in July.


Alexandria: Have you heard anything about Villarreal being interested in Jozy Altidore?

Steven Goff: Nope. Haven't heard that.


Silver Spring: Ok so far Gallardo has faced one tough mid in Kovalenko who basically was on him all game long on Saturday. Is there anyone in MLS who is better at shadowing and getting into peoples head than Kovalenko? Do you think Gallardo is one of those players who might lose his head and do something stupid?

Steven Goff: If you can keep your cool around Dema, you can keep your cool around anyone. I don't think Gallardo is any more susceptible to losing it than anyone else in that position.

I'm sure he's happy DCU is done playing RSL this year.


Stone Ridge, VA: Any odds on whether Olsen plays this year?

Steven Goff: Tough to say. Could be weeks, could be months. I asked him last week that, if the injury did not subside soon, would he consider retirement. He said no, he'd like to keep going. I reminded him on that enormous MLS pension awaiting him when he calls it quits. He laughed.


Steven Goff: That's it. Thanks for joining in the fun. We'll do it again in two weeks. Keep reading the Insider.

In the words of Ferris: "You're still here? It's over! Go home. Go."


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