Soccer Insider

Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 6, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, Aug. 5, 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: Greetings.

Welcome to chat central.

The Soccer Insider has been undergoing scheduled maintenance for the last 24-plus hours but will be up and running again later this afternoon.

Let's get started.....


Arlington, Va.: So, I guess the U.S. women will be happy if they never have to play in China again, eh? Talk about a disaster! I suppose they still have time to get their act together, but today's result doesn't bode well does it?

Steven Goff: Not a good result for the USA women, who, despite the absence of three injured regulars, including star forward Abby Wambach, were expected to contend for gold. I figured they would settle for a tie today against a very good Norway team, but allowing two goals in the first four minutes was disastrous.

Japan will give them a tough game Saturday and then they shouldn't have any trouble with New Zealand.

The Americans seemed to create enough opportunities today after their early problems; they just could not finish them.


Silver Spring, MD: Great work on the Superliga payout controversy. Your SI blog on this really captured the importance of player compensation now confronting MLS, its teams and the players.

Question: With the league and several teams seemingly on a better financial footing, (endorsements, TV money, larger gates etc.) what can the players resaonably expect in terms of sharing a larger piece of the financial pie?

Steven Goff: The top priority entering the next round of collective bargaining will be salaries. My guess is that minimum salaries for senior roster players will increase significantly, but the number of players on the roster will drop. Perhaps we will see the senior roster increase from 18 to 22 with pay increases across the board, but the developmental program scrapped. I don't know, just thinking out loud.


Viva Bolivia: Today is Independence day in Bolivia, as such I expect many ex-pats to come to RFK tonight and support the National team against Guatemala. Do you have any additional information for tonight's match? Any figures on how many tickets have been sold? Rosters and predictions?

Things do not appear promising in Bolivia lately, so this game could invoke a little National pride (all the way in DC).

Steven Goff: Bolivia vs. Guatemala, tonight, 8 p.m. at RFK Stadium.

Promoters expect a turnout around 15,000. The big one will be next Thursday when El Salvador plays Trinidad and Tobago -- maybe 30,000?

Both teams tonight have primarily domestic-based players and are missing a few regulars. The big absence for Guatemala is forward Carlos Ruiz, the national team's all-time leading scorer. His club, the L.A. Galaxy, apparently granted him permission to play, but then changed its mind following the Galaxy's loss to San Jose on Sunday. Because this is a friendly and does not fall on an official FIFA match day, the Galaxy was within its right to stop Ruiz from playing.


Rockville, Md.: Is Ivan Guerrero's long-term position at left-mid or left-back?

Steven Goff: D.C. United's plan, from what I can tell, is to start Guerrero on the left side of midfield and use Fred on the right flank. Simms supporting Gallardo and Moreno and Emilio up top. That leaves Quaranta and Doe (when healthy) as options off the bench or in starting roles when the schedule gets busy again in September with MLS play and the start of the CONCACAF Champions League. Guerrero is also an option at left back, but when the club is healthy, Martinez is the top choice there.


Mt. Pleasant: World Cup qualifying gets serious soon. What do you see as the US's biggest question mark or weakness going into the semi-final round?

Steven Goff: Good question. Speed in the back could become a concern against CONCACAF opponents. I think they're fine in goal and defensive midfield, and Donovan and Dempsey offer the ability to run at defenders and create opportunities. I also think you'll see Ching and Cooper as target players. The first qualifier is only two weeks away, at Guatemala, and the Olympics have deprived the national team of regulars such as Bradley, Adu and Altidore.


Arlington, Va.: Are you bursting with news for us? These 27 hours have been very difficult. DCU GK signing news?

Steven Goff: Sad to say, nothing to report at the moment. DCU has been very secretive about its player pursuits and even the folks usually in the know around the league aren't talking.


Reston, Va.: Aside from a goalkeeper, does D.C. United really need any new players?

Steven Goff: They could use some depth on the backline and up top. The Guerrero trade was a wise move and the addition of Vide in midfield will help. Undoubtedly, though, a goalkeeper to challenge Wells for playing time is the top priority.


Atlanta, Ga.: How does Bayern Munich not win the champions league? They are loaded and getting limited attention.

Steven Goff: Mr. Klinsmann, please pick up the courtesy phone.

Bayern is a perennial power in Europe, but I just don't think of them as a Champions League favorite, despite employing half of the German national team.


Norway?: Is Norway beating the US on women's soccer as big an upset as I ponder or am I still partying like it's 1999?

China? Brazil? Those I could take, but Norway?

What in the name of Title 9 is going on here?

Steven Goff: Since winning the 1995 world championship and the 2000 gold medal, Norway has slipped back on the world scene. The Americans, who once considered Norway its biggest rival, have had their way in the series of late, including a rout in the World Cup third-place match last fall. Germany and Brazil have surpassed Norway on the international stage.

Was it an upset today? Absolutely. Was it a complete shock? No.


Alexandria, VA: Goff,

If Jaime Moreno gets 4 more assists this season, he will have over 100 goals and 100 assists in MLS (regular season). Would this make him the undisputed greatest player in MLS history?

Steven Goff: It would be difficult to argue against him. For years, I considered Marco Etcheverry the greatest player in D.C. United history, but Moreno's longevity and contributions (both statistically and as a leader) have forced me to reevaluate. Preki did win two MVP trophies, but if you consider Moreno's complete body of work, the Bolivian stands above.


Washington: Any predictions on how the U.S. mens olympic team will do?

Steven Goff: I would be surprised if they advanced to the second round. The group is awfully difficult (Japan, Netherlands and Nigeria) and the Americans did not show well in their final two friendlies. That said, the roster includes several players who have excelled in international competition: Adu, Altidore, Bradley, McBride. They've got to win that first game tomorrow (5 a.m. MSNBC) because beating the Dutch and the Nigeria will be difficult.


New York: To be fair to our lasses, Abby Wambach is far and away the best soccer player in the US, female or male. When the Bulls lost without Michael Jordan, it wasn't a huge "upset."

Steven Goff: Absolutely. Wambach is a huge loss for the U.S. team. You could see the difference today in the number of missed opportunities by the Americans. Wambach doesn't miss those chances.


Anonymous: Hey Steve,

Olympic soccer is a joke. Either get rid of the U-21 World Cup and make it the Olympics or have players who haven't played at the World Cup. Nobody cares and the big clubs look at it as a nuisance.

Steven Goff: Yeah, I am beginning to agree with that sentiment. Women's soccer has a place in the Olympics because there are so few club conflicts, but the men's tournament needs to be re-examined. FIFA doesn't need the Olympics -- they've got the World Cup and U-20 World Cup. Hopefully, a compromise can be reached for the 2012 Summer Games.


Falls Church, Va.: Steven, what's your forecast for the U.S. Olympic team? Do you think Nowak is getting the most out of the talent he's assembled?

Steven Goff: We are about to find out. On paper, this should be a very good U.S. team. Let's see if Nowak is able to make it all work.


Washington Diplomats country: I know that there is a lot of pessimistic thought about DC United not getting a new stadium. But, I mean, come on, DC United is one of the flagship teams of the MLS. It's got to happen within the next two years, right? Also, if it doesn't happen, do you think Maryland or (gasp) another city could land the Black and Red?

Steven Goff: In my mind, DCU's investors have to determine a course of action by the end of this year: If there are positive signals coming from the city gov't, they should continue to pursue a deal at Poplar Point. The club wants to be in the District. However, if no progress is made by Dec. 31, make a deal with PG County and get the darn thing built already!


Midtown DC: Steven,

Thanks for the chat. Tell me, do you think I'll be kicking myself for getting out of bed at 4:55am to watch the MNT play Japan. Or will I be filled with energy for the rest of the day?

Steven Goff: I am in awe of anyone up at that hour. A USA victory will be the equivalent of a strong cup of coffee to start your day. A USA loss? Call in sick and go back to bed.


20001: Afternoon Steve - West Ham have released Freddie Ljungberg and I've heard whispers that MLS (as well as Swedish) clubs might be interested. Have you heard anything?

Steven Goff: I haven't heard anything. I'd imagine it would take a truckload of cash to get Ljungberg here. Surely, he will receive better offers in Europe.


Rockville, Md.: What kind of lineup do you anticipate Soehn starting against RBNY, given the crucial USOC semi-final just days later?

Steven Goff: Great question. It's a tricky situation for Soehn: He's got a league game with a conference opponent on the road at 5 p.m. Sunday and then a U.S. Open Cup semifinal at home at 7:30 on Tuesday. At this point, the Open Cup is more important, but you don't want to sacrifice a league match with a team that is right behind you in the standings. He's going to have to find a balance and probably start some reserves on Sunday. Burch is suspended for the Open Cup game, so he'll go 90 at New York. Martinez did not play over the weekend (red card), so he should be ready to start both games. With the injured corps steadily regaining its health, perhaps we will see the return of Peralta and Quaranta on Tuesday. The timing of the Guerrero and Vide signings should be beneficial to DCU in a difficult situation like this one.


Not in Beijing: There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.

B. Scurry

Steven Goff: Ha!

Here we go again.....



I-270, Exit 1: No pressing questions about the SuperLiga final so far. Any idea on what the viewership was or is this a question for Lisa De Moraes?

Steven Goff: No clue what the Telefutura broadcast drew, but considering there were no Mexican teams involved, I can't imagine it was very big.


Del Ray: What other MLS teams are still looking to make big moves before the transfer window closes? Is Colorado even trying to improve itself?

Steven Goff: I'd imagine almost every team is looking to make a move. It will be interesting to see where Pat Noonan (who is close to re-signing with MLS) and Cory Gibbs (who is expected to be available through the allocation order) end up. Gibbs in L.A.? Colorado?


State of Dyspepsia: After watching a Houston and New England have right jolly go of it last night, it occurred to me that strengths of both of these strong teams is the ability to bring in reserves without a fall off in quality or mission.

Does the current DCU team have that strength, when healthy? (If they ever get healthy)

Steven Goff: Great point. New England and Houston always seem to find a way to win, even when players are missing because of injury, suspension or international duty. For this reason, they remain the class of the league and the favorites to return to MLS Cup.

DCU has made moves to improve depth, but how effectively Soehn integrates them into the club's system of play will determine how far this team advances. With Houston and NE, there is a seamless transition when reserves are thrust into the lineup.


Rockville, Md.: Hey Steve,

Why is nobody talking about Columbus as a legit contender? They aren't as flashy as other teams, but they have all the pieces to go along with a scrappy style of play and, in my mind, the current frontrunner for MVP in Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Give 'em some love!

Steven Goff: Everyone seems to be waiting for the Crew to collapse, but it hasn't happened. With Schelotto running the show and Hesmer performing well in goal, perhaps Columbus is for real.


Fort Defiance, Va.: I'll admit I've never been a fan of the Superliga, but seriously: less than 10,000 in New England for the final last night? I know the tournament is all about the TV money, but if people don't show up, what kind of future can the tournament possibly have?

Steven Goff: New England does not draw on weekdays. Throw in the fact that the opponent was an MLS team and that the organization had to sell tickets on short notice, and you've got a small turnout. No surprise.


Rockville, Md.: When healthy, is Santino Quaranta higher on the depth chart at forward or outside midfielder?

Steven Goff: Both. I think he's better up top, but it's nice to have a guy who can play both positions.


Steven Goff: Thanks for stopping by.

Sorry I couldn't address all of your questions.

Keep reading the Insider!


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