Soccer Insider

Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 25, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, June 25, 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: Welcome back.

Let's chat, eh?


Reston, VA: Germany or Turkey?

DC United or LA Galaxy?

Steven Goff: Germany, 2-0.

United, 9-8.



Washington, DC: So how close was United to firing Soehn and bringing back Bruce Arena?

Steven Goff: My hunch -- and it's only a hunch -- is that United was going to give Soehn until the end of June to straighten things out. (Ownership and the front office were not going to tolerate losing amid high expectations for very long.) Obviously, Soehn has accomplished it. Arena seems to be on everyone's short list in MLS when a coaching vacancy surfaces. Don't be surprised if expansion Seattle (2009) and Philadelphia (2010) approach him. In the meantime, he's enjoying life at his home in Charlottesville.


Washington, DC: Which team/player(s) have been the biggest surprises and/or disappointments this season?

Steven Goff: Teams: Though New England has been to MLS Cup the past three years, I expected the Revs to drop off a bit this season. It hasn't happened. RSL has been pretty good after several dismal seasons and Columbus has been a surprise. Kansas City has been a disappointment.

Players: How about Javier Morales at RSL (seven assists) and Robbie Rogers at Columbus?


Arlington, VA: Do you have an information on Comcast Sportsnet dropping some DC United games in August to broadcast some Redskins pre-season games? Reportedly, CSN is broadcasting some of DC United's SuperLiga games instead.

Steven Goff: Redskins preseason games take precedence, but from what I understand, DCU is trying to find an alternate outlet to show the matches live (CN8, perhaps?). Comcast will also carry some SuperLiga games as the local outlet. A Spanish network will show the matches nationally.


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, DC: Mr. Goff,

My wife wants to go see this Beckham guy. Who do I call for tickets? Gordon Brown?

Steven Goff: Call Posh. Or her plastic surgeon.

(Cheap shot!)


Middletown, Pa.: It seems that, tragically, Ben Olsen will not where the Black and White any time soon. You'd have to think there is a future roll for him on the United coaching staff, or?

Steven Goff: Absolutely. He's a natural leader. Ben seems intent to pursue a comeback as a player, but if it doesn't work out, coaching is a great option.


Washington, DC: Have you managed to convince Grant Wahl to come to a United game yet? And if so, would he sit in the press box with you or join Barra-Brava?

Steven Goff: Grant is the man!

I imagine he'll make the drive down from Baltimore this weekend -- and sit in the press box.


Washington, DC: What's your assessment of Gallardo at this point in the season? Why hasn't he had more of an impact for DCU?

Steven Goff: Gallardo's game has a lot of nuance; he's not as direct of a player as Gomez was for United. He likes to start the attack deep in midfield and spray passes to the wings. Different player, different style, different results.


U-B, MG: Former Galaxy assistant and Iranian-American Afshin Ghotbi just won the Iranian Championship in his first year as coach of Persepolis, winning the clinching game in front of 110,000 fans in Teheran. Is this the most success an American coach has ever had with a foreign club? And how is it that this amazing story, especially given the current political climate, has gone unnoticed in US soccer circles?

Steven Goff: Quite an achievement, but like most Americans, I don't follow the Iranian league very closely.

Thanks for passing it along...


Bealeton, VA: In your judgment, who are the best and worst starting goalkeepers in MLS?

Steven Goff: Best: Matt Reis and Brad Guzan.

Worst: Steve Cronin and Zach Wells.


Middletown, DE: Based on the success of Brazilian (Emilio, Fred) and Colombian (Martinez) recruits and the lack of success in post-Gomez Argie recruits (Filomeno, Donnet, Erpen, Peralta, Niell), do you see DCU moving away from the Argie pipeline for being the primary South American source of talent?

Steven Goff: There's a lot of affordable talent in Argentina. I don't think United would close down that option because of the performances of a few players. Along those lines, I wouldn't say Peralta was a mistake and Erpen was a decent, if erratic, player.


Rocko: Like we all said, Emilio is going to be here past July so who are the rumored top targets in our foreign keeper search?? How likely will that person be to replace Wells, or is this just to get a decent back-up?

Thanks for doing the chats.

Steven Goff: DCU is on the hunt for a European keeper and has been approached about a few possible candidates. We should know in the next few weeks if they are able to sign someone. Clearly, they need another option at that position because Wells has not played well and Carvallo has not challenged for the starting job.


Tampa, Fla.: Last week it was announced a group is bringing back the old "Tampa Bay Rowdies" name to a new USL team in 2010. I used to live in MD and had a lot of fun going to D.C. United games. What is the play like in the USL? Is it worth the price of admission? Also, do you think a city like Tampa will ever get an MLS team again after what happened with the Mutiny? Thanks Steven, keep up the great work!

Steven Goff: Many players in USL1 are capable of playing in MLS; some chose USL1 because, in their situation, the pay was better. (Why sit on the bench in MLS for $19,000 when you can make a bit more in the USL and play regularly?) The overall quality is not as good as MLS -- no one in the USL is on the level of Donovan, Beckham, Angel, Blanco, etc. -- but as we are sure to see in the U.S. Open Cup, the teams can compete with MLS. USL2 is a step down, but competitive.

If Tampa has the investors and a stadium plan lined up, MLS could return there. The league wants a team somewhere south of Washington. The priority seems to be Miami.


Alexandria, VA: Why doesn't Comcast fire up CSN+ and carry both games like they do for Wizards/Caps?

Steven Goff: I'm not familiar with the financial, technical and political issues that go into CSN+ broadcasts.


Juan "Butterfingers" Carrillo, Gaithersburg: Hey Goff, I'm a pudgy, 5-foot goalie in my over-30, co-ed league. Do you think DC United would give me a private workout to see if I can make the team?

Steven Goff: A contract will be FedEx'ed to you tonight.


Richmond, VA: Top 5 places to watch an MLS game in terms of overall atmosphere and fan participation?

Steven Goff: In no particular order: Washington and Toronto are top two, Chicago and Houston are 3/4 and perhaps LA is fifth


State of Dyspepsia: Turns out Dominic Mediate has speed to burn. Was he not primarily an offensive player in College? For DCU he's been at MF and even defending.

After watching him fly past the Speedy Dane Richards last week, has there been any thought by the team of getting him forward in an otherwise slow-ish side? Or does he not have the touch?


Steven Goff: Dom played midfield and some forward, as I recall, at the University of Maryland, but I don't think he has the technical skills to be a regular attacking player in MLS. He is a nice utility guy -- defense, midfield flanks, etc. Good player to have available for various roles.


Los Angeles: Have you been to a game in Toronto? From what I've seen on TV/Internet, it looks like an amazing atmosphere. Hopefully, further expansion by the league will turn out as well as it seems to have there...

Steven Goff: Yes, I've been to three MLS matches at BMO -- great atmosphere, regular sellouts, sophisticated audience, gorgeous setting near the lake and downtown. Too bad the field is artificial turf.


Portugal fan: Please say something comforting to console me.

Steven Goff: Unlike his club affiliation, Cristiano Ronaldo will never abandon his national team.


Scarsdale, NY: Any idea when the playoffs to determine the seeding for the Guatamalan and Honduran Champions League representatives will take place?

Steven Goff: Off the top of my head, I have no idea. You'll have to check CONCACAF's Web site:


Silver Spring, MD: With the Galaxy game on Sunday, DCU has to play Rochester in the U.S. Open Cup on the following Tuesday at the Soccerplex. With such a short turn around, what kind of roster can we expect against the Rhinos?

Steven Goff: Great question.

DCU is taking the Open Cup very seriously, but clearly some players will not be able to go 90 minutes in the heat on Sunday and then play 90 two days later. Guys like Dyachenko, Burch, Cordeiro, Stratford, Niell and perhaps Doe and Carvallo may play crucial roles (as starters or reserves) against those Rhinos.


Takoma Park, MD: Any idea as to which DC United player is the emergency goalkeeper? You know, the player who would put on the gloves after DC has made three subs and Wells has to leave the game? Just curious.

Steven Goff: Huh, never thought about that. Good question. Maybe McTavish or Peralta?


Wilmington, NC: Hey Steven, will an MLS team be invited to participate in Copa Sudamericana as in recent years? Or did no team meet requirement for entry? May be moot as four teams are involved in Concacaf Champs League anyway so would be major schedule conflicts/congestion.

Steven Goff: With the Champions League up and running, the schedule won't allow it. Frankly, I don't think MLS teams, at this point in the league's development, are equipped to play in high-caliber tournaments such as Sudamericana (roster depth is an issue, as we saw with DCU last year). Champions League will also pose personnel problems, but because it is a CONCACAF event, MLS teams will always compete.


I-270, Exit 1: Why does the Post hate soccer? Apart from your DC United and national team coverage, your blog, wire reports of USA and Euro matches, big color pictures, and occasional features in non-Sports sections, there is virtually no soccer coverage in your newspaper.

In other words, thanks.

Steven Goff: Ha! Well played, mate.

Thanks for the kind words.


Formerly Toronto:"Too bad the field is artificial turf."

Holy Crow! You want them to paint the ice and snow green at the begining and end of the season?

Steven Goff: Turf was installed in Toronto so the facility could be used for events during the winter (with a bubble providing protection from the elements). It has nothing to do with the beginning and end of the MLS season.


York, PA: Is there a deadline on acquiring new players for a playoff run? What I mean is when is the last chance to grab a new net minder?

Steven Goff: The roster deadline is Sept. 15.


DC:"DCU is taking the Open Cup very seriously"

Really? Since when? Why?

Steven Goff: Because they were embarrassed last year, because they haven't won it since 1996 and because the winner gets an automatic berth in the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League.


Arlington, VA: Goffinho:

What exactly did the DCU front office SEE in Franco Niell to

make them think he would be successful in MLS? Has his

lack of success been due to his inability to compete

physically due to his height, or his teammates just not

playing to his strengths, whatever they are?

Steven Goff: Good question. Niell works hard, but his size is a liability. It will be interesting to see if he is still around next week, when contracts become guaranteed for the entire season.


Annandale, Va.: In your opinion, has David Beckham had any impact on the way the sport is perceived in the general public? Was he worth the investment for Galaxy?

Steven Goff: Great move by MLS and the Galaxy. He's brought unprecedented exposure to the league and American soccer, in general.


Los Alamos, NM: Russia or Spain?

what is your opinion about Russia vs. Holland?

Steven Goff: Nothing against Spain, but I would love to see Russia in the final. Their style of play, their attacking instincts and their great No. 10 (Arshavin) have been refreshing. They outplayed the Netherlands from start to finish with few lapses in between.


Washington, DC: Steve, I think you do great work, and I'm curious about how you handle the beat reporter vs. critic aspect of your job.

For example, above, you said that Zach Wells was one of the worst starting goalkeepers in MLS. Obviously, this your opinion (although grounded in facts), but as long as he is United's starting GK, you will have to talk to Wells and interview him regularly.

When you make a statement like you did above, with more of a "critic" hat on, does that affect your job as the DCU beat reporter?

Steven Goff: My "worst" reference was based on goals-against average (Wells and Cronin are at the bottom).

Zach has admitted his shortcomings this year, so nothing I say or write is a surprise to him (if he reads this stuff).

Soccer is the most subjective of all sports because, for the most part, you can't use statistics as a crutch. I am not nearly as opinionated as many writers/columnists who follow MLS, and to be honest, I try to avoid wearing a critic's hat. But sometimes, in order to keep the readers informed and keep the discussion lively, I have to analyze things (player ratings, etc.)

Hope that answers your question. It's certainly a fine line.


Foxboro, MA: Steven,

What job would lure Steve Nicol away from the Revolution? Liverpool?

Steven Goff: As successful as Nicol has been in MLS, I would be surprised if he were a serious candidate for a Euro job. Certainly, he has the playing credentials, pedigree and contacts, but I don't know if an MLS job is a stepping stone to a Euro gig.


Washington, DC: Has Croatia filed any protest against FIFA for the strange ending to their quarterfinal game against Turkey?

The first period of extra time was whistled 30 seconds early, while the second period of extra time went over 3 minutes long (the goal celebration was not even a minute). I couldn't believe that game was not ended shortly after the insuing kickoff (at the very least just before the offsides call), but it really appeared that the fix was in as Turkey was given just enough time to net the equalizer.

This comes from a Germany supporter who is really glad to be playing a depleated Turkish side today, but also a football fan that feels that Croatia got robbed.

Steven Goff: Thanks for your comments.

I haven't followed that issue too closely.


Vienna, Va: Will the layoffs at MacFarlane Partners affect stadium talks, as the Biz Journal story suggested?

Steven Goff: What stadium talks?



Players Union, Maryland: Steven,

How much does the McBride saga underline the acquisition rules in MLS?

Since teams can sign DP's and Discovery Picks and anything else as they feel, how is it that MLS can't get it right for returning American Internationals or other decently high profile signings?

What would be wrong with a system where the club and the player self-select and a team that's higher on the mythical allocation list has the right to offer him a matching or similar contract but nothing that was astronomical because the offer would have to be realistic in order to fit the player on the roster as is or for trade purposes.

I like parity - but perhaps parity should only be governed by the cap.

Steven Goff: Good point.

The league is a work in progress.


Harrisburg, PA: No one wants to talk about the 800 lb Gorrilla in the room, which is the up coming CBA. What's the buzz on that up coming event? Are the two sides are lacing 'em up and getting ready for the throw down, or is MLS doing the little things that will count come meeting time?

Thanks Goff.

Steven Goff: Still a little early. The CBA runs through the 2009 season, but certainly a battle is brewing. Won't be pretty.


Steven Goff: Thanks for stopping by.

We'll do it again soon.

As always, you can reach me directly at or through Facebook.

Don't forget to read the Insider!



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