Soccer Insider

Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 11, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, June 11, 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

Welcome aboard

Let's go!


Okay, give us the official Goff answer: Was it offsides or not?

Steven Goff: Italy-Netherlands case, right? Fascinating situation -- defender is out of bounds but considered part of play, so a goal scored in what was otherwise a clear offside position is allowed to stand. I'll follow UEFA's interpretation and agree that the goal must stand.


Gaithersburg, Md.: You going to REM tonight? Should be a great show.

Is RFK confirmed for an October USA qualifier assuming they get past Barbados? And any idea where Bocanegra will end up?


Steven Goff: REM, nice! I'll have to miss it. Enjoy.

USA-Cuba, assuming both advance this month, will face each other at RFK on Sat., Oct. 11 at 4 p.m.

Bocanegra looking around Europe, not sure where he will land.


Bealeton, Va.: Do you concur that Zach Wells is the worst starting goalkeeper DC United has ever had?

Steven Goff: Wow! Harsh.

Wells has, well, not done well. From what I've heard, United has been looking for goalkeeping help, both within MLS and in Europe.


Decisions, Decisions: My computer is at my desk. The TV is in the lunch room. My lunch is at 1:00 p.m. Do I watch the second half of Portugal v. Czech Republic or eat at my desk and follow the chat? It's not often I have this happy dilemma! Pull the TV out of the lunch room and take it to your desk.

Steven Goff: A terrible quandry, indeed!

So far, great stuff from Portugal and the Czechs. For those planning to watch it on tape, I'll refrain from sharing the score here.


Washington, D.C.: Do you plan to write a story about Chad Ashton? He's someone that most of us know nothing about, and a lot of us were surprised last year when he got the nod for his job given his comparative lack of high-level experience. We don't know much about him, so maybe an article about him wouldn't be a bad idea?

Steven Goff: Stories are rarely written about assistant coaches, except for perhaps in the NFL. They'd have to have one incredible story to tell in order to be profiled in a mainstream publication.


New York: It's patently obvious that the US National team is at its best when Adu and Edu are playing. It seems to me a nasty form of politics, in particular brand-name medicore white players for a sport played by lots of suburban white kids- is keeping Adu and Edu down a bit.

Steven Goff: Oh, nonsense.

Edu is a year and a half out of college ball. Freddy just turned 19 and doesn't play much for his European club. They both have phenomenal futures -- we will see them on display in the Olympics this summer -- but to say that their skin color is the reason they don't start every game for the full national team is offensive.


If only . . .: How much better does Veron look now than Gallardo?

Steven Goff: Veron was United's top choice; he turned them down. Gallardo was their next choice (as far as I know). He's having a solid, if not spectacular, first year in MLS. Very different players -- who's to say United would be any better with Veron than Gallardo?


Swamps of Jersey: Is there any truth or whispers linked to Claudio Reyna retiring or being bought out by Red Bull to make room for a new DP this summer?

Steven Goff: Barring a major paycut, I would be very surprised if Reyna returns to the Red Bulls next season.


Del Ray: Steve,

What are Soehn's plans for Burch currently? Soehn described him as leaps and bounds ahead of the other players in the reserve game yet he isn't starting on the defensive line (we've seen Mediate there more often then Burch). We converted him from forward to defense and now he doesn't really seem to have a home. Is he being developed into a utility player like McTavish or what? He was a revelation last year at left back despite his nigh worthless right foot and it would be a shame to see his development stall.

Steven Goff: Starring in a reserve game is nothing to write home about, so don't read too much into it. Burch is a solid player and remains in the first-team picture, but the team seems more comfortable with Martinez at left back and Peralta and McTavish in the middle. Mediate receives playing time because of his versatility; he can play on the left or in the middle. Burch can't.


The Four Lett, ER: Steve,

Any thoughts on the coverage of the Euros so far? I think ESPN wisely has jettisoned their American broadcasters on the games and giving us some British/Irish voices that know the matches instead.

Steven Goff: Love the coverage. ESPN should be commended. Nothing like high-quality futbol in high definition. The announcing teams have handle it well, despite watching the matches from ESPN's studio in the U.S., not at the stadiums.


Reston, VA: Now that Bobby Boswell has relinquished his coveted "Most Eligible Bachelor" spot on the team, does that mean Devon McTavish is now up for grabs? The girls want to know!

Steven Goff: Devon is so very dreamy ;-)

I'm sure you can find him on facebook or myspace


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: If Obama wins, will we have the First Kick next spring at RFK?

Steven Goff: I hear Obama plans to purchase United season tickets ... once the new stadium opens. (Is a fifth term possible?)


Raleigh NC: Good afternoon! Any indication that Bob Bradley's job is under any threat?

Steven Goff: None.

Unless they lose to Barbados, he's the coach for the foreseeable future.


Falls Church, Va.: Steven, what's your assessment of the mood or attitude in the United locker room? Does this feel like a team that's pulling together and going to fight for one another? Or are there signs of folks checking out on the situation?

Steven Goff: It's a very tight group. Even during the low points this spring, the team seemed, um, united. Take a read of my story in today's print editions and online.


Fairfax SE: Steve,

Any update on Ben Olsen's health? Despite playing better of late, the team still clearly misses his fire and heart out there.

Steven Goff: Nothing new. Last time I checked, he was still planning to have surgery later this summer and enter a long rehab process.


Washington, DC: What's your take on Bradley's longwinded answer about why Freddy has to do more to earn a starting spot on the US MNT?

What else could Freddy possibly do on the field to show that he brings a creativity no one else in our player pool can offer? I didn't see much tracking back on defense from any of the forwards from Spain or Argentina.

Is it all because of ego? Freddy seemed fine with his teammates, joking around with Maurice Edu before the game and at halftime, and walking off the field in a friendly embrace with Donovan.

Steven Goff: There are a lot of factors that go into roster and lineup decisions, most of which unfold behind closed doors at training. Freddy is growing and maturing (physically and mentally). Bradley and the coaching staff are bringing him along steadily. I would imagine, if all goes well, he will see more consistent playing time with the full national team following this summer's Olympics.


Sec 232, Row 10, Seat 2: Is Dan Startford falling out of the graces of Tommy Soehn this year? Is Ryan Cordeiro the hard worker and potential steal of the draft?

Steven Goff: Stratford is a promising defensive midfielder, but he's a rookie and will have to continue to fight for first-team playing time. Cordeiro has shown well, but like Stratford, has a ways to go before becoming a first-team regular.


I-270, Exit 1: Are you going to Home Depot for the Barbados WCQ or are you saving the travel budget for the away leg?

On a serious note, other than the usual suspects (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica), which CONCACAF teams look like contenders at this stage? If Canada is a contender, can we arrest Onstad?

Steven Goff: I am not heading west for this weekend's qualifier. Scott French, a longtime soccer scribe, will handle it for us. If, by chance, the Americans tie or only win by a goal, I will have saved the travel money for the return leg in Barbados.

USA, MEX, Costa Rica are the favorites. Perhaps Honduras or maybe Canada breaks through. Looking ahead to the semifinal groups this fall, MEX has the toughest potential schedule with likely Jamaica, Canada and Honduras.


22206: Eddie Johnson - Is he playing with the Nats because Bob Bradley likes him and believes in him, or because Bob feels we have no other options up top?

Steven Goff: True, not a lot of athletic options up front. They've given Eddie a lot of chances of late, and he hasn't performed. Barbados is a far inferior opponent compared to England, Spain or Argentina, so perhaps Bradley feels he will produce this weekend. He certainly has not earned it.


Frederick, MD: Given the continued poor performance of Zach Wells in goal why has Carvallo not been given a chance to perform? Arethere any moves to bring in a qualtiy GK in the next window?

Steven Goff: I addressed the goalkeeping situation in a front-page story early last week. Essentially, Carvallo has not impressed the coaching staff in training and has been slow to learn English commands necessary to communicate effectively with the field players. For now, Wells's job is safe.


State of Dyspepsia: Will soccer fans ever be happy with the TV coverage of our game or are we such a miserable, cynical bunch that we'll never be happy until we have soccer games running on the insides of our eyeglasses in hi-def?

(ESPN has done a good job with Euro 2008, and I like the inclusion of Julie Foudy and Andy Gray. Your thoughts?)

Steven Goff: Well said.

The coverage has been very good, and I have no major problems with the announcers. Even Tommy Smyth is okay with me these days ;-)


Washington, DC: What's the latest on the new United stadium and when do you expect a formal announcement?

Steven Goff: Any day now.



Raleigh, NC: I remember reading how Fred was considering becoming a naturalised Aussie and playing for the Roos before landing in DC. Any chance of that happening here?

Steven Goff: Haven't heard a thing, but since he lives here now, I can't imagine that scenario happening.


Blacksburg, VA - HokieNation: Steven,

Following your recent visit to Chicago, what's new with wunderkid Patrick Nyarko?

Is he that far off from first team time with the men in Red? Will he be moved in favor of McBride?

Steven Goff: He reported late to the Fire full-time in order to finish his school work at Virginia Tech. Seems to have a nice future, let's see how he develops throughout the year. I can't imagine he will see regular time on a quality side like Chicago right away.


Bethesda, Md.: How long do you think Mr. Burns will last as Mexico coach? I'm not sure he will be so "exxxxx-celent" without Smithers to back him up.

Steven Goff: Well played, Bethesda, well played.


Brooklyn, NY: I seem to remember some quotes from Bob Bradley recently about how if you're not getting consistent first team action with your club team, then it's going to affect your standing with the national team (think this was directed at Feilhaber, Adu and Bocanegra in particular).

For the past month though we seem to be a training squad for a bunch of out of contract players. I can't think of any reason that Josh Wolff would have earned a starting spot against England, and he certainly didn't do anyhting in the game to earn another 20 minutes against Spain.

Am I cynical in thinking Bob was using that as an opportunity for Wolff to earn a contract? Is he giving mixed messages?

Steven Goff: With Wolff, you know what you are going to get. He played regularly, or semi-regularly, in Germany this year and knows how to approach international matches. That said, his best days are behind him and don't see him contributing to the national team for very much longer.


Arlington, Va.: Any idea if the Gallardo sorta head butt will lead to an extended suspension? Or, as a DP is he too valuable for the league to be too tough on him?

As for the Euros, it is awesome that ESPN is broadcasting in HD wherever possible. But just because the announcers have funny accents doesn't make them any smarter or better informed than the American voices. In fact they can be just as big a dunces. I was just thinking the other day that it was going to be very hard for my ears to survive my urge to gouge them out if I really have to listen to Tommy Smyth every day for a month!

Steven Goff: No word on an additional fine or suspension for Gallardo.


Washington, DC: Wondering if you heard about Mexican GK being arrested in Chicago after their freindly with Peru. Supposedly the Mexicans were celebrating till the wee hours of the morning and hotel officials had to call police. Wonder how Sven Ericcson feels about this team he is taking over!

Steven Goff: Yup, we discussed the Sanchez arrest on the Soccer Insider this week.


Brookfield, IL: Now that everybody's places have been broken in a little (thanks for finally getting the place painted, Frisco) and you've been to them, how would you rank the MLS stadia?

Steven Goff: Among the "new" stadiums?

1. Home Depot Center (despite field issues at times, it's still a gem.)

2. Chicago (too bad it's so far from downtown).

3. Toronto (hate the turf, but what a backdrop and setting).

4. Colorado (nice place, not much atmosphere).

5. Dallas (Frisco is a long way from Dallas, but complex is solid).

6. Columbus (the no-frills original).

Looking forward to seeing RSL's new place later this year or next season.


Raleigh, NC: Sorry, I meant if you heard if Fred was going to get a US citizenship, and if perhaps anyone from USSF has approached him like the Australians did when he was in the A-League.

Thanks for the great chat!

Steven Goff: It takes an awfully long time to acquire USA citizenship. I can't see it happening.


Washington DC: Do you have any idea why Jozy Altidore isn't getting looks on the National squad right now?? Seems like we could really use the help in the attack. Thanks!

Steven Goff: The combination of an injury and his imminent departure to Spain has taken him out of national team contention for the moment.


Arlington: Good job Goff!

When is Franco leaving?

What's the status on a new golie?

Steven Goff: All contracts are guaranteed as of July 1, so if DCU decides to drop him, it will happen before that date.


Freddy: One of the most aggrevating things about listening to pundits over the past few years was hearing how Adu was "the American Pele" and wasn't being used well by DC United. This was mostly on PTI by Wilbon and Kornheiser, whom I otherwise revere. What I saw was a very young player used to schooling people his own age and not needing to learn the tactical aspects of the game because he could usually burn the opposition. That last part was definitely not the case once he turned pro and was playing against much higher quality who understood how to neutralize him (if you don't pass they know they can double and triple team you with impunity). So, it has been a pleasant surprise that he is finally starting to play well with others. But he's still learning and he still occassionally plays and acts like someone who believes his own press. Riding the bench at Benfica is a good thing for him because it underlines how far he still has to go.

Steven Goff: Very well said.



Washington, D.C.: I was in the supporters section at Giants Stadium this past weekend, and I was appalled watching Eddie Johnson. It's not the lack of scoring -- it's the lack of anything. He doesn't work off the ball, doesn't move to create separation, doesn't try to create space for other players. Remember the friendly against Mexico in early 2007, Bob Bradley's first match against Mexico, where Donovan got the breakaway at Oswaldo Sanchez after a Mexican pass hit refereen Mauricio Navarro's feet? EJ just stood there at first, and didn't run at goal to create a passing option/make defending harder until Donovan looked back at him and motioned him to come on. He's the least hard-working forward I've ever seen in my life. So why, oh why, oh why does he keep getting starting jobs for the national team? What's going on here?

Steven Goff: Good points. Not sure how much longer Bradley will call on him for the starting lineup. How his star has faded in the past year.


Washington DC: Predictions for Euro 2008 Final?

Steven Goff: Portugal and Spain are looking awfully good so far, but I still think Germany will win it all.


Arlington, Va.: I just wanted to say that I think the linesman from the Italy-Netherlands game has taken a lot of very unfair abuse for the van Nistleroy goal. To me this is a classic case of replay slo-mo distorting rather than enhancing the picture. I'd like to see a shot from the linesman's vantage point at game speed. I'll speculate that from this perspective it must have seemed that the Italian defender who got pushed off the pitch by his keeper was still potentially in play. Bad luck for the Italians, but not a bad call. (And just for the record, this was yet another case of a player writhing in agony experiencing a miracle recovery when he saw he didn't get the call.)

Steven Goff: Thanks for the analysis.


Cap Hill: How come the Dutch squad on EURO2008 for XBOX360 does not use their real names? Every other team has the complete national team squads with actual names, but the Dutch never do.

Steven Goff: Huh, I wasn't aware of that. Blame the unions!


Central America: Wondering if you pay attention to the rest of CONCACAF during qualifying. Is there a team to lookout for during the qualifying or is it the normal Mex, USA, Costa Rica making it to South Africa.

Steven Goff: Honduras will be a threat. Canada and Haiti could become darkhorses. T&T has experience in major competition.


Italy's reputation: Steven: Don't you think, in some way, Italy's well-deserved reputation for flopping affected the linesman's call in the Holland game? I know he didn't have much time to analyze it, but I think he probably felt the defender chose to go down and therefore he counted him as an active player. Your thoughts?

Steven Goff: Hard to say what the linesman and referee were thinking, but I can't imagine they were assessing Italy's reputation in the split second the goal was scored.


Wolfsburg: Guten Tag!

How did the DCU trip to Germany go? What was on the agenda of the visit and have the plans for the VW Arena been renamed and delivered to Adrian Fenty as the VW Park at Poplar Point?

Steven Goff: Stadium? What stadium? It will never, ever happen. Well, maybe it will...someday.


Steven Goff: Time to wrap it up.

Thanks for joining me.

Sorry I couldn't get to every question.

We'll do it again in two weeks.

Meantime, be sure to read the Soccer Insider many times a day.

You can always reach me directly at or through Facebook.




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