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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, May 14, 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 washingtonpost.com.

Discussion Archive

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Steven Goff: Welcome back!

Lots of great questions to address.

I'll be with you for about an hour, but the Soccer Insider never closes. Sort of like 7-Eleven. Drop by often. We may even have some beef jerky for you. Today's guest appearances include Canadian band Blue Rodeo and cartoon superhero SpongeBob SquarePants.

Okay, let's go.....

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Washington, D.C.: So, typical D.C. United slow start/issues integrating new people? Or time to panic?

Steven Goff: DCU got off to a bad start last year as well, and bounced back to finish with the most points in MLS. This year, though, has a different feel to it. I don't know which way this is heading. The next four games (three on the road) should tell us a lot.

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Rocko: Is this going to be the worst season ever?

Thanks for doing the chats.

Steven Goff: Ever? I don't know about that. But unless DCU turns things around in the coming weeks, we're looking at a long, arduous season.

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Washington, DC: Hey Goff

Where does most of an MLS team's revenue come from? I ask because there has been a lot of talk about tournaments/scheduling conflicts/lack of roster depth and I think the overwhelming focus should be on the MLS season and playoffs. If United wins Superliga and doesn't make the MLS playoffs, the reputation boost will not increase season ticket sales. If United becomes more respected internationally but still can't pay for top quality players (Niell is not a top quality player), who cares? Skilled players will play for us when we can pay them.

Thanks for your great reporting.

Steven Goff: Great questions.

Ticket sales, stadium revenue (for clubs that have their own facilities), sponsors, merchandise, etc.

It's all part of the big package.

I agree with your example: SuperLiga does not mean much if you don't make the playoffs. No one is going to remember a SuperLiga title. There is money involved with winning SuperLiga, but the players only see a small percentage of it. Most of it goes back to MLS.

Yes, at some point, salaries need to go up for the mid-level players in order to improve the quality of the league.

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Woe is Me!!!:1. Emilo?? Ultimately is the problem Emilo or is it the fact that no one is getting him the ball (as Gomez did last year) in scoring positions?

2. Why was Burke taking the free kicks at the Fire game Thursday? Wouldn't his height in the middle be a bigger asset in free kick situations?

Steven Goff: Emilio is part of the problem. True, he is not getting much service, but the service he is receiving is going unfulfilled. He's also had trouble maintaining possession.

Burch has the most powerful foot on the field; you need him to drive in the ball when Gallardo is not around.

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Rocko: Since Emilio will be gone in June, who are your best guess top 3 most likely candidates to replace him?

Thanks.

Steven Goff: Ouch!

DCU would love an established Mexican forward (can you say, Palermo?) but can they afford another high-priced player and would such a player want to come here?

As usual, the club is monitoring several players in South America.

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Alexandria, VA: As a middle-aged football fan, who sees the Baby Bentley millionaires on the front page of the British tabloids almost as often as the back pages, may I just say how pleased I was that Ryan Giggs scored the clincher on Sunday. Viva Giggsy!

Steven Goff: Giggs! Yes!

What a career.

Little does he know, but my son is named in part for the Man U winger.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there any way Bradley can convince Brian McBride to come out of retirement for 2010? We need him.

Steven Goff: You just might see McBride filling one of the overage roster spots on the under-23 (Olympic) team this summer in China. However, I don't think he's interested in resuming his national team career over the long haul.

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Alexandria, VA: Goff,

While a winning DC United is great, but when United is struggling do you find:

(1) it easier to write stories about their challenges,

(2) you get more hits on your blog/articles

(3) it doesn't impact your popularity or stories?

I loved your, "Who's to blame" blog by the way. That was some of the most intertaining reading.

Keep up the good work.

Steven Goff: Reporters enjoy covering teams that provide a story line, good or bad. In this case, United's problems are the topic of discussion among supporters, players, etc. Nothing is worse than covering a middle-of-the-road, drab team year after year (see Colorado).

In this case, the blog becomes a forum for fans to vent their anger and frustration. So in a way the blog benefits. But when the club is winning, people are excited and want to express their enthusiasm with others.

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Ridgefield, CT: Any idea what Bundesliga team was interested in Altidore?

Steven Goff: No, but I don't believe it was Bayern.

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Lincoln, Va: With Kevin Payne calling out the players after the last loss, has he said anything about the coaching staff?

I think Soehn may be up for the job, but I question his assistant coaching staff, specifically Ashton (what value does he add? what are his qualifications?) - though with alot of our problems, IMO, starting with the goalkeeper not communicating or organizing well with his back line at all, maybe even Mark Simpson can shoulder some responsibility.

What are your feelings as to the coaches being on the hot seat with management?

Thanx for your continued work to bring us the latest and greatest info!

Steven Goff: That will be my next question for Payne, especially if DCU loses this weekend.

The coaching staff is certainly responsible for the team's poor start, as are the players and front office.

A few more losses this month, and perhaps we will see a change on the DCU sideline.

Let's see how the next few weeks play out.

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Dark Side of the Moon: Goff, could the Toronto roster get any crazier?

Jeff Cunningham, Danny Dichio, Laurent Robert ...and do I have to say Amado Guevara?

Is it TFC Front Office policy to only sign head-cases going forward?

Steven Goff: Ha!

It seems to be working, though.

Toronto is a decent side that has become difficult to beat at home.

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Atlantic City, N.J.: Hi Steve,

What advice do you have to any aspiring soccer bloggers?

Steven Goff: Go for it.

Create a site and start strummin'.

There are all kinds of soccer blogs -- ones that are geared toward news, like mine, and others that are created for purely entertainment purposes.

The more the merrier. Have fun with it.

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Predictions: Uefa Cup Winner?

Chivas-DCU Result?

Champions Cup Winner?

Steven Goff: Rangers, 2-1 in overtime

Chivas-DCU, inevitably 0-0

Man U, 2-1

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emanon: Which former '07 DCU player would be most helpful to the current squad?

Steven Goff: The easy answer is Christian Gomez, who understands the league and offers an aggressive, attacking style from central midfield. Ben Olsen is not really a former player, just injured, but the club desperately needs his grit and leadership. I think they would like to have Josh Gros back as well, a player who can run forever and play two ways.

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Washington, D.C.: Who are the three overage players that are going to be on the USMNT this summer?

Steven Goff: Good questions.

McBride seems likely.

I'd imagine a defender is chosen (Conrad?).

The difficulty in choosing the overage players is the timing of the Olympics. There is a World Cup qualifier at Guatemala at the same time, MLS is in the meat of the schedule, Euro clubs are re-starting and players on new teams will be apprehensive about stepping away for a few weeks.

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Marshall, Va.: Hello, Steven. What do you think the chances are that D.C. United will see a coaching change mid-season?

Steven Goff: It's not looking good at the moment for Coach Soehn, but if DCU wins this weekend and gets a win and tie against Toronto next week, everything is back to normal.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you think if the USMNT gives England a game in two weeks that more Americans will be accepted into the EPL? Is this backlash from the Revolutionary War?

Steven Goff: I am excited to watch the USA-England friendly. Both sides should be at, or near, full strength. Fairly or not, the national team performances against high-profile opponents reflect on the quality of the individual player that USA soccer is producing.

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Washington, D.C.: Goff, much love for your tireless efforts with the Insider.

Now a question - with the European Leagues winding down, who is the next washed up former star MLS will sign?

Steven Goff: Ha! Here comes Gazza!!

Honestly, I don't know, but I'm sure you will see one or two. The trend is toward Latin America, though.

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Washington, D.C.: I know this may sound like DCU blasphemy and I will probably have go into the witness protection plan for this question, but, should DCU have "made" Jaime retire, signed Gomez for what he wanted then gone out and paid for a big time striker?

Steven Goff: I don't think you can really make anyone retire. Sure, they could've traded Moreno, but the club sees him as an important (bilingual) link between the veteran corps and the new Latin players. He's still got a bit to offer on the pitch, as well.

Gomez wanted at least two GUARANTEED seasons with an option for a third. For a guy who turns 34 later this year, that's a lot. The money was not the major issue, from what I understand.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Steve,

Much thanks for the Soccer Insider and for doing these chats. My question: What's up with the second leg of the USA v Barbados World Cup qualifier? I've seen a tentative date of June 21, but no site and no time. All the other CONCACAF qualifiers seem to be set. Is there something causing a delay with this one?

Steven Goff: According to the USSF, it will be on Sun., June 22. Kickoff time has not been determined, but figure on a day game.

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Fairfax, Va.: There's been a lot of talk from sportswriters recently about the good and bad of bloggers, and I was curious to get your take on them, particularly in the soccer world where it seems any blogger can get credentialed for an MLS game these days...

Steven Goff: I wouldn't want to make a blanket statement about all bloggers, of which I am one these days. There are good ones, there are bad ones. Some teams hand out credentials to almost anyone (a disturbing practice), others not so much.

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Washington, D.C.: The start of World Cup qualifying is just around the corner. What's your starting 11 for the US at this point? Or, if you'd prefer, what do you see as Bradley's likely starting 11 for the opening two games?

Steven Goff: Tough one.

Howard, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore.....

Maybe Adu, Edu, Spector, Clark, Beasley (when healthy)

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Richmond, Va.: Any clue as to why the top 3 or 4 teams from last year are struggling so badly this year?

Steven Goff: DCU and Houston were hurt by the busy early schedules, and while Houston should be okay, I'm not so sure about DC. Chivas just isn't very good. New England will be fine.

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Emanon: The U-23 roster posted for the upcoming tournament listed Gros as an ast. coach.

Does he have a permanent position with US Soccer now, or is this a one time thing?

Steven Goff: Yeah, I noticed that. Good for Josh!

My guess is that it's a one-time thing, but I'll find out more soon.

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Nic, Austin, Tex.: Goff: Do you think there's any chance of Toronto FC having to share BMO with the Argos?

Steven Goff: Sounds like it's being considered.

It would be a shame.

The Toronto field is turf, not exactly ideal, but football lines would make matters worse.

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New York, N.Y.: Mr. Goff,

Do you have a point of view on the Red Bulls tearing up their "guaranteed" $41K offer to Eric Brunner to instead offer him a $17.7K per annum contract: that's life or there's got to be a better way?

Do potential MLS players realize that if they enter the draft they may be offered a contract as low as $12.9 and they would have to take it or they will not be eligible to sign with any MLS team for TWO years?

Steven Goff: The players know, or should know, the situation they are getting themselves into before committing to MLS.

I don't know enough about the Brunner situation. Sorry.

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Chantilly, Va.: Niell? Really? That was the best D.C. could come up with in the offseason?

Steven Goff: Gallardo, Martinez and Peralta were the club's top imports, Niell. Niell was always seen as the top forward off the bench. So far, he has not done much of anything and I wonder if he'll be around for much longer.

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Rockville, Md.: Based on your interactions with Soehn, what are the chances that he switches back to 4-4-2? Or does he seem determined to stick with 3-5-2, results be damned?

Steven Goff: Depends on the players available. Right now, injuries are dictating his decisions. Without Fred, there aren't a lot of choices for the left flank, so Burch moves up and plays there. Who else can play in the back?

Also, McTavish and Mediate have been out, Gros is gone and Olsen is sidelined -- not a lot of options at the moment.

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Chicago Ill.: Has Fulham's roller-coaster year in the EPL affected the overseas reputation of American soccer players? Fulham's obviously got several stud U.S. players but was flirting with relegation until its amazing kick to the finish line. Do our guys come out of this looking better or worse for the experience? Thanks.

Steven Goff: Avoiding relegation was huge for Fulham and huge for U.S. soccer. A relegated team with five Americans would have been embarrassing.

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Rockville, Md.: Gallardo's skill and class are plainly evident, but is he inevitably a misfit due to the team's lack of speedy attackers who can run onto his pinpoint passes?

Steven Goff: Great point. Immense skill, but does he fit into DCU's style and tactics? I am curious to see how he, and the team, adapt.

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Baltimore, Md.: Who will be calling the Euro 2008 games for ESPN next month? Also, who do you think will win the tournament?

Steven Goff: I have not seen the list of announcers, but I assume it will be the same guys who have handled ESPN's Champions League coverage.

I'll go with Italy, despite their difficult group (France, Netherlands, Romania).

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Vienna: Where are Zenit fans gathering today?

Steven Goff: Lot 8, RFK Stadium, be there.

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Newark, Del.: Is your son really named Giggs Goff?

Steven Goff: Hilarious!

Close...

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Arlington, Va.: Who would you pick as the U.S. player who has had the biggest impact on the global scene?

Claudio? Friedel? McBride? Anyone else close?

Steven Goff: Friedel

Keller

Harkes

Reyna

Beasley

McBride

Ramos

Howard

Bradley

Who am I missing?

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Justin Mapp: I recall that after his debut against Mexico(?) there was a great deal of fawning over Justin Mapp. In particular, I remember someone at ESPN saying that the creative force that the US has been missing has finally arrived.

However, until United's last game, I can't recall hearing any more about him.

Has his stock fallen completely off or have I just not been paying attention?

Steven Goff: Very good MLS player, never has risen on the international scene. Maybe he's ready for the next step. He's still only 23.

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Arlington, Va.: Many of the "internet nuts" have been pushing the panic button calling for Soehn to be fired (most of them have never liked him anyway) and/or Payne and Kasper to resign. Obviously it is easier to get rid of the coach than all of the players. Is there any reason to believe DC United would benefit from such a shake up? Who is even out there that we could afford to hire? Would we really want Arena back? Has Etcheverry expressed any interest in coaching? Harkes?

washingtonpost.com: Bruce Boudreau?

Steven Goff: I remember talking to Payne several ago, in general terms, about coaching changes, and his point was that you don't just dump a coach for the sake of change -- you have to have a plan and be prepared to bring in someone who will alter your club's direction.

Would a coaching change, in this particular case, be beneficial? Who knows. Sometimes a team needs someone with fresh perspective and new ideas.

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Alexandria, Va.: Which of the following off-season switches do you think DCU Front Office would take back (if any):

Gallardo for Christian Gomez

Wells for Troy Perkins

Martinez and/or Peralta for Bobby Boswell

and/or Greg Vanney

Niell for Nicholas Addlery/Guy-Roland Kpene

Not protecting Brian Carroll (instead of someone else; if so who?)

Steven Goff: On paper, I don't know, given the way you have framed it, if the club would regret any of those moves. Perkins's experience is missed, but DCU feels Wells will, in time, fill that role. Like Wells, Perkins was far from a perfect keeper. Carroll was coming off a subpar year last season, so hard to say if they thought they would miss him much.

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Falls Church, VA: Do you know if any MLS teams have plans to go "green"? Solar panels, recycling, less pesticides on the grass, building new stadiums with energy/water conservation in mind, etc. The USL-1 Charleston Battery are the only U.S. pro soccer team I have seen make a commitment like this.

Steven Goff: I haven't seen or heard anything, except for the Charleston project.

It would be nice if the new MLS stadiums were more efficient and teams made a greater effort recycling the thousands of plastic bottles that are discarded after every match.

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Arlington, VA: is there a danger that DC United's downward spiral could get out of control? The players may well start trying to do it all on their own instead of trying to play as a team. As guys start pressing more and more the frustration builds and the team falls apart. Some one mentioned how the guys don't look like they are having any fun out there. Is there a way to get them back to having some joy at playing the game but at the same time not get too lax?

Steven Goff: Yes, that is the doomsday scenario.

DCU is not at that point, but as was mentioned in my print edition story today, the players are beginning to feel the strain.

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Arlington, VA: When I read blog posts/forums comments by fans of other MLS teams, the hostility towards what they refer to as the "dipping dots" or soccer mom crowds is amazing. Am I just oblivious or is this hostility not present among DCU fans? If the hostility is not there, do you have any insights into why there is the difference in attitudes?

Steven Goff: Serious soccer fans seem to resent casual soccer fans (aka families, dipping dot buyers, etc.). Don't know why: A ticket bought to a soccer game is a ticket bought to a soccer game. By the way, how awful are dipping dots??? Ugh.

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Washington, DC: After the game last week, Kevin Payne made it clear to you that the team is not averse to making more changes, if necessary. We also recently learned that Luciano Emilio is currently eating up DC's second designated player slot. Is there a chance that DC would cut Emilio loose altogether and bring in a new DP?

Steven Goff: They would look to transfer him and collect some cash. The most likely destination would seem to be Central America. Back to Olimpia, perhaps?

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Washington, D.C.: If the US men's team is destroyed in these three upcoming friendlies, will we be talking about Bob Bradley's job security? Seems to me that it means nothing if he dominates CONCACAF. Arena did that in the run up to the 2006 WC.

Steven Goff: These are friendlies with nothing at stake. Frankly, I would be surprised if the USA team were destroyed. At full strength, they stack up just fine. Does it mean they will win any of these games? Perhaps not. But these are good challenges as qualifying approaches.

Bradley's job status is very safe at the moment.

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Denver: What do you think about the suggestion by Thuram that Refs in Euro 2008 consider stopping matches if the witness racist comments on the field or from the crowd? Seems like a good idea to me if they really want to get it out of the game. Any idea if MLS has the same problem? I've been to a lot of games and heard some unfortunate chants, but haven't witnessed anything racist.

Steven Goff: Thuram is absolutely right: It should not be tolerated and the referees should have the backing of UEFA to stop the match. Like you, I've heard a lot of stuff yelled at MLS games, but never racist stuff.

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Steven Goff: That's it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Continue to visit the Insider every day.

We'll chat again in two weeks.

If necessary, you can always reach me directly at goffs@washpost.com

Cheers!

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