Soccer Insider

Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 23, 2008; 2:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, July 23, at 2 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: Howdy.

Welcome back to the chat.

Let's get going.....


Alexandria, VA: How small a crowd are you expecting tonight? Might we go below 5000, given the last minute postponement and indications of severe weather discouraging folks?

Steven Goff: Hard to say. More than 13,000 tickets are out there, but unclear how many folks will show up considering the postponements, weather, midweek traffic, etc.


Austin, Texas: Goff - Have you heard anything about how much it will cost Monaco to retain Freddy Adu after his initial loan agreement from Benfica expires?

Steven Goff: I'm not sure if a set price has been agreed upon. I'd imagine it depends on his performance over the next six to nine months. Good move for Freddy -- though he made progress last season, I don't think his playing time would've increased this year.


Reston, VA: Mr. Goff: If ever DC United should take part in a penalty shootout, what would be the order of PK takers? Thanks.

Steven Goff: Moreno first, then Emilio or Gallardo. Personally, I wouldn't want to be the goalkeeper who faces a Marc Burch PK -- unbelievable power on his left-footed shot.


Washington, DC: Hi Steven,

Who do you think are favorites for the Olympic games? And what are the chances for the US team to shine?

And welcome back Brian McBride!

Steven Goff: Argentina, Brazil and Italy are my favorites, though the Netherlands and Nigeria could become medal contenders. The USA is in a tough group and will have trouble advancing to the knockout stage. That said, the Americans certainly have the attacking components in place to score some goals: McBride, Adu, Altidore, Kljestan, etc.


DCU to SuperLiga: We're just not that into you: There are a host of ready excuses for DCU's poor performances at home in SuperLiga (injuries, bad luck, thin bench). But it's hard not to think that the team just doesn't take this tourney all that seriously. Fair point?

Steven Goff: They took it seriously, but injuries strained their depth. They put a lot into the first match against Chivas and didn't get a result. That form carried over to the Atlante game (another loss) and left them hopelessly desperate in the finale. Without Peralta, Quaranta and particularly Gallardo, United was at a clear disadvantage against skilled Mexican clubs.


Fairfax, Va.: How is Soehn balancing the need for practice (because they definitely need it) and the need for rest? It seems like there isn't a solution and all of these tournaments have set up United to stumble short of the finish line yet again. Is it insane (or even possible) for United to decline an invite because they are already over-committed?

Steven Goff: MLS cleared DCU's schedule as best it could for SuperLiga, so other than the fatigue from playing three games in eight days, they have no complaints. Tonight's Houston game was rescheduled (twice) and not originally planned so close to SuperLiga. All of that said, Soehn seems very conscientious about not working the club too hard. This week, for instance, the players are scheduled to be off Friday through Sunday.


Arlington, Va.: Heard there was a league announcement to be made today - possibly regarding Canadian expansion. Could your choice of Montreal be yet another SI premonition? Or will it be Vancouver?

Or will it just be that Danny Dichio has been added to the All-Star team thanks to an error in voting?

Steven Goff: I am not in Toronto and have not heard anything on the MLS grapevine. At some point in the future, I would expect Montreal or Vancouver to become an MLS expansion team. We'll see.


Cory, Hanover: Imagine Marc Burch with a scintillating right foot, one that's just as lethal as his partner. You think -- of course we're dreaming -- if this were possible, Marc Burch would be the best player in the United States system? Or at least on the United States National Team?

If this is too editorialized, what are your thoughts on Marc Burch and his lack of technical skill on his right foot? Does that hurt D.C. as much as I think it does?

Steven Goff: There are many players in MLS, and around the world, who have one powerful foot and one weak one. Burch is great with the left, not so good with the right. He needs to improve his technical skill and game awareness to become a national team candidate.


Nottingham, UK: In your opinion, what one rule or implemented idea would improve MLS most?

Also, do you get tired of defending MLS to harsh critics? It's hard work in the UK.


Steven Goff: One rule? Hmmm. How about no cheerleaders in any MLS stadiums and no sound effects on the PA system during play? ;-) Seriously, the discovery claim rule needs to be dumped and the salary cap system made more transparent to fans and media.

My role isn't to defend MLS. It is what it is -- a young, modest, evolving league.


Fairfax, Va: TFC's coach John Carver ripped into Jeff Cunningham after not being able to score an apparent sitter last night. He's been rumored to be out of favor for some time. Any chance DCU takes a run at him? His speed could make the DCU attack much more dynamic, but would he be too much of a head case/locker room cancer?

Steven Goff: I would be stunned if DCU showed any interest in Jeff Cunningham -- a player past his prime who comes with a lot of baggage.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Thanks for your great work...regarding the USMNT, what story line(s) intrigue you the most as World Cup qualifying continues next month?

Steven Goff: Though the USA is heavily favored to get out of the semifinal round, these first two matches, at Guatemala and at Cuba, are going to be tricky. The first one especially since some regulars will be in China with the Olympic squad.


Ft. Washington, Md.: Do you know when tickets go on sale and how they will cost for the T&T vs. El Salvador game?

Steven Goff: Not on sale yet. Any day now.

Check regularly.


Buenos Aires, Argentina: With Blanco's alleged violent outburst, the alleged racist taunts and alleged tacit support (by not naming the perpetrator) by Crew barra brava, the alleged shenanigans of ICF at Crew Stadium, and the alleged Ruud/X soap opera in LA, has MLS allegedly finally made it to the big time?

More importantly, what are you hearing on your end about the Dallas/River Plate agreements? Will it be the same "sharing knowledge and young players" deal that other teams have and don't seem to do anything with? Will Dallas make a serious offer for el Burrito so that they can then get a promotion with Chipotle?

Steven Goff: MLS is a little edgier these days, which in most cases, is a good thing. The stuff in Columbus has got to be solved.

Don't know anything about the Dallas situation.


Falls Church, VA: Thanks for all the great coverage. Any chance you will write a feature on the CBA negotiations soon?

Steven Goff: Not likely.

When there's news, I'll report it. Otherwise, the CBA talks won't seriously heat up until 2009 -- the final season of the agreement.


Reston, Va.: If Burch took a PK, he'd still hit a wall of defenders.

But really hard.

Steven Goff: Ha!


Silver Spring, MD: Do DC United management really like Rod Dyachenko or is he just "cheap and available"? I honestly can't see what he has done this whole year to have earned minutes.

Steven Goff: I don't understand it either.


Raleigh NC: Good afternoon. What kind of guidelines does the league headquarters have for the security companies hired to work MLS games? What kind of policies are there for what fans are and are not allowed to do?

Steven Goff: No clue.


Seoul, Korea: Steve, thanks for the blog. I was wondering how MLS's TV ratings are performing. Is ESPN glad with how the league's ratings? Is there any indication the league's next TV deal will be large enough to help increase the salary cap?

Steven Goff: MLS TV ratings are still pretty low, but they do well demographically, from what I hear. Salary cap will continue to increase gradually, but I don't think it's tied to the TV deal.


Beautiful Warrenton, VA: Mr. Goff,

Arguably, SuperLiga has been successful for all parties involved except D.C. United (and the Chivas goalie). Mexican clubs marketed their brands to ex-pats and will likely win lots of money, Houston and Chivas saw unusually large attendance numbers, and New England continued their winning ways.

Any chance United can/will politely decline the invitation to play in this meaningless tourney if the opportunity resurfaces?

Thanks for all your hard work.

Steven Goff: Too much money at stake (for the club and league, if not the players) to turn down an invitation, I'd imagine. The tournament also serves to spread a club's brandname in Mexico and in Latin communities in America.


emanon: How much of a soccer game needs to be played before it is considered "official"? Is there a rule like baseball's reaching the 5th (or bottom of 4th depending on the score) inning rule with regards to rain delays/cancellations?

Steven Goff: MLS games are official when they reach halftime. Years ago, a scoreless DCU-KC game was stopped at halftime because of malfunctioning lights at RFK. It went in the record books as a 0-0 tie.


OWNTF: Don't you think Greenbelt will be nice?

Steven Goff: Greenbelt, here we come!

(No, that's not a news item. But I don't understand why DCU has not already committed to PG County.)


tsingletonvt - Boston, MA: The other day you mentioned that NBC will be offering an Olympic soccer channel on most cable and satellite systems. Do you have any more details on this channel?

Steven Goff: Check with or with your cable/satellite provider.


OWNTF: Your thoughts on the USWNT chances? Your thoughts on emerging stars who might step up in Wambach's absence?

Steven Goff: Despite the absence of Wambach (and Osborne and Whitehill as well), the Americans are a legitimate gold medal contender. I still think Germany will win it. Natasha Kai and Amy Rodriguez will have to compensate for the loss of Wambach's scoring.


Eastern Market: What are the odds there will actually be a DCU match tonight? Should I walk up to the stadium or just watch the rain from my bedroom window? Plus, can you help me with my MLS fantasy team?

Steven Goff:3:1 odds thunderstorms force another postponement.

2:1 odds that someone slams a door at RFK and the whole stadium collapses.

Death to fantasy leagues! ;-)


DC: What are you hearing about the World Cup qualifier at RFK against Cuba in October? (Assuming they get the lights working by then.) Will it require special procedures, given the politics involved?

Steven Goff: I'm sure it requires special procedures, but Cuban athletic teams have been coming to the States for decades. I don't see any diplomatic issues.


Washington, DC: In terms of tonights game, I know that a Dynamo player had a red card that should have caused him to sit out during the game with United. I think I read in the Insider that he was able to serve the penalty at the next game (not DC.) That seems a little unfair or at the very least odd since Dynamo actually started the game vs. DC. Did Dynamo get to pick which game he sat out? Is there a rule about this? It just seems like a weird situation.

Also, any word on Bobby B.'s partying while he's back in DC?

Steven Goff: A player who has been red-carded must sit out the next game. Eddie Robinson would've missed the DCU match in June. Because of the postponement, his suspension was moved to the next game. That's life.


Bethesda, Maryland: I am concerned that Dom Mediate's concussion is more severe than we have been led to believe. He has been out of action a very long time. What are you hearing?

Steven Goff: DCU is not taking any chances after what the club and Josh Gros went through the past couple years.


Chantilly, Va.: It had seemed like forever since DC scored off a corner before Doe's goal in the Houston game on Sat. (which I missed completely because in my despondency over losing, I didn't stand up to watch the corner). Prior to Sat., when was the last time DC scored off a corner kick?

Steven Goff: Namoff scored off a corner against Chicago in the Open Cup, no?


Rocko: Does Emilio or any of the other players really care about the All-Star snub? I see it a blessing considering the rather cramped schedule coming up.

Thanks for doing the chats.

Steven Goff: I think DCU players and the organization feel slighted that no one, especially Emilio, was recognized to play in the game.


Mount Rainier, MD: Hi Steve,

Do you think it's time teams were able to make 4 subs per game instead of the current 3?? Superliga allows 4 and I love the concept of it and think it's something FIFA should look into specially with 7+ man benches.

Steven Goff: I haven't heard much discussion about it and would be surprised if FIFA even considered changing the rule.


Fairfax, Va.: South Africa!! -- Will it or won't it host the 2010 World Cup?

Steven Goff: Great question.

My heart says South Africa will remain the host. My brain says FIFA is becoming increasingly concerned about stadiums, infrastructure, crime, etc. and will have to contemplate moving the World Cup to Brazil or England.


Reston, VA: What comes first?

Ben Olsen visits the moon.


New DC United stadium.

Steven Goff: Mr. Olsen, we have lift-off.


Steven Goff: That's it. Sorry I couldn't get to all of the questions.

Thanks for stopping by.

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



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