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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 16, 2008; 11:00 AM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Thursday, Oct. 16 at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions about all things soccer and preview Thursday's D.C. United-New England game.

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 to the chat.

Thanks for stopping by.

Commence.

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Virginia Beach, Va.: Regardless of whether D.C. makes the playoffs or not, will this season go down as the most disappointing season that D.C. United has ever had?

Steven Goff: Given the lofty preseason expectations, this squad will be likely be remembered for underachieving. It reminds me a lot of the 2000 team that, a year after winning MLS Cup, failed to make the playoffs. After two consecutive Supporters' Shields, this year's team has been a major disappointment. Season's not over yet, though. Let's see if they can rally into the playoffs and pull an upset.

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hoyanick: Goff,

Thanks for all your hard work.

Santino Quaranta: Does he return to United next year? He would probably not accept another minimum-wage contract, right?

Steven Goff: I fully expect Quaranta to return next year. He has enjoyed a productive season and provided versatility as an outside midfielder, forward and, because United has had so many injuries, a playmaker. His base salary this year was $35,000, just above the minimum, but was loaded with incentives. Given the amount he has played, I'm guessing he'll earn a decent paycheck this year. As for next season, I would expect his base salary to increase significantly.

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Falls Church, Va.: Thanks for all the great coverage. Do you foresee any existing MLS franchises being moved over the next couple of years? Seems like there are many strong expansion city candidates.

Steven Goff: MLS would prefer to enter new markets through expansion, not relocation. There's been a lot of buzz about Columbus skipping town for Vegas -- how is that for culture shock? -- but for the foreseeable future, I don't see any clubs moving. That said, there seem to be an abundance of investors/cities willing to accept a team looking for a new home.

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Arlington, Va.: Hello,

To make the playoffs, United needs to win their last two games; which teams are we hoping to lose games? Is Emilio ready?

Thanks.

Steven Goff: Emilio might end up playing tonight. We'll know for sure an hour before kickoff.

D.C. needs to win both remaining matches, and New York and/or Kansas City to lose one of their final two games. Colorado and Dallas are also still very much in contention.

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Rocko: Odds of Soehn staying on as coach if DCU doesn't make the playoffs?

Thanks for the continued great footy coverage.

Steven Goff:10 to 1.

I can't imagine he keeps his job if DCU fails to make the playoffs after winning the Supporters' Shield the previous two seasons. Is everything his fault? Certainly not. The front office needs to take responsibility and injuries have played a major role, but in any sport, the coach usually pays the price for a disappointing season.

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Reston, Va.: It really baffled me that Bradley's first change, whilst down a goal, was to take out the only player who'd shown that he could do ANYTHING with the ball at his feet. (Well, maybe Torres showed okay, too, but that just reinforces my point.) Meanwhile, Hejduk, Edu, and Kljestan were god AWFUL.

I was also very disappointed with Beasley. As good as he was on Sunday, he didn't contribute much at all tonight.

Has Bradley explained yet why Hejduk, Edu, and Kljestan went 90 while Adu was the first to be pulled? Inserting Davies was the right move, but it was terribly stupid to remove one of only two players (Torres at times, too) who were at all positive going forward. It reminded me of Nowak pulling Adu in the 2006 conference.

Steven Goff: Let's keep in mind that this game was meaningless for the USA. Bradley wanted to see players in certain situations and was not concerned with winning. As for Adu leaving early, we don't know his fitness level, whether he had a minor injury, if he wasn't following instructions. I wasn't there so I can't tell you what Bradley's explanations were. Even if I were there, he doesn't usually share his tactical thoughts.

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Capitol Hill: Is this DCU team the biggest bust in the history of the franchise? All the pre-season predictions I saw had them as favorites to win the Supporter's Shield. Who is to blame?

Steven Goff: See earlier question/answer.

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Fairfax, Va.: Steven,

Is it too early to project which players may not return next year? I am thinking more in terms of the higher paid players such as the Gonzalos, Fred and Guerrero. I think both Gonzalos have been disappointing; Peralta's health and Martinez's cavalier defending. Fred struggles to stay healthy as well. I like Ivan and want him to return.

Steven Goff: My guess is that Guerrero will return and that Martinez is on his way out. Peralta could end up being back. I also expect Fred to return.

Lots of decisions to be made this winter: Is Olsen's career over? Does the club want Gallardo back or will they try to find him a new team, allowing them to dump his big salary? Crayton was a nice find, but is Wells good enough to compete for the job? What about Emilio and his DP contract?

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Richmond, Va.: My question has to do with what happened this past weekend with Louis Crayton in Houston. How do the MLS and other teams around the globe go about actually banning a fan from matches? I understand they could blacklist the fan from buying tickets, but what stops that fan from having a friend buy their ticket or even them walking up on game day and buying from the ticket booth?

Steven Goff: I suppose there is no sure way of banning an individual who is determined to enter a stadium, but then again, we're not talking about 60,000 fans passing through the gates.

The important thing is that Houston took action right away -- they should be commended.

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Mt. Pleasant, D.C.: We're getting close to the Hex final round in CONCACAF. Think any team might challenge the usual suspects of the U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica for a ticket to South Africa?

Steven Goff: Honduras could be a handful -- if they advance to the final round. They are loaded with skilled, athletic players, but are notorious underachievers. El Salvador is very determined and difficult to play at home, but is not very talented. One or two Caribbean sides will make it and could pose some problems with their individual skill. T&T qualified for the last World Cup after finishing fourth and then beating Bahrain in a playoff. This time, the fourth-place team will have to face a South American opponent in the playoff -- a much more difficult task.

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Fairfax, Va.: I saw where San Jose has Tottenham Hotspurs as their EPL partner. Colorado has Arsenal. Is DC United going to partner with an EPL club, and if so, who?

Steven Goff: I haven't heard anything and, frankly, these partnerships seem more for show than anything else. I wouldn't get too excited.

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Herndon, Va.: Coming into the 2008 season, DC United had about 14 new players. It obviously took some time for this team to gel. Will the front office shake this team up all over again? Will they bring in and ship out another 14 players and start all over again next year? We obviously need to make some changes, but how far will they go?

Steven Goff: Unless we witness a remarkable turnaround the next two weeks and then in the playoffs, DCU will have no choice but to make significant changes this offseason. Several newcomers are likely to stay -- Guerrero, Vide, Quaranta, Crayton, perhaps Khumalo and Janicki -- but expect many moves, as well. It's likely to be another busy winter.

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Rockville, Md.: How many players on the U.S. squad from last night might we expect to be the core of our 2014 team? It seemed to me that this might be the future of the U.S. team.

Steven Goff:2014?? I can't think that far ahead. No one knows how players will improve or decline over six years. Let's look at 2010:

From last night's 18-man roster, I would expect to see Guzan as Howard's backup, Pearce competing for the left back spot, Califf and Orozco as possible support players, Edu and Adu, perhaps Torres, Szetela, Davies and Wynne if they continue to develop, Beasley, Kljestan, and of course Altidore.

Still a long way to go until the actual World Cup. Remember, in the two years leading to the 2002 Cup, Beasley was only a prospect until just before the tournament.

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Washington, D.C.: With the repeated failure of foreign coaches in MLS it seems likely that a MLS team looking for a head coach would look to the ranks of assistant coaches. Who are the assistants in MLS with the most "buzz" these days?

Steven Goff: Paul Mariner, New England

John Spencer, Houston

Richie Williams, New York

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Timonium, Md.: Hi Steve,

What college do you think has produced the best crop of players currently in MLS? Where would you rank Maryland with the likes of Twellman, Rogers, Stammler, Seitz, and even recently Edu? Thanks!

Steven Goff: Maryland ranks very high. Same with UCLA and Wake Forest.

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Chicago: What's your take on MLS expansion? Who are the favorites? Why didn't NY submit a bid for a second team?

Steven Goff: Miami's bid is quite intriguing with FC Barcelona as a backer, but unless they plan to put a first-class international squad on the field, I'm not sure soccer fans in South Florida (of Brazilian, Argentine, Colombia descent) will turn out.

I would love to see another Canadian team (Montreal or Vancouver) and Portland is one of the great soccer markets with a wonderful little downtown stadium (in need of alterations). St. Louis seems to be a safe choice.

At some point, a second NY team will be in MLS. Not sure why the Mets group did not submit a bid this time around.

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California: Why does Toronto FC play all their homes games in the afternoon?

Steven Goff: I suppose their marketing studies show that afternoon games are best for the fan base.

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Owings, Md.: What's the odds of DC getting another defender of the caliber of Ryan Nelson? DC has a history of a strong center back, Eddie Pope, Ryan Nelson, yet lately they have none.

Steven Goff: I can't answer that. They are always looking. Boswell showed signs of filling that role over the long term, but after a subpar season, the club decided to trade him.

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Arlington, Va.: Two things:

-- Who on the US team surprised you in a good way at last night's match vs. T&T?

-- Are you hearing anything yet from your DCU contacts about what they expect to do post-season as far as team "restructuring"?

Thanks much for all you do!

Steven Goff: For me, no one really stood out for the USA.

Much too early on the DCU front.

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Washington: Should DCU's front office have known more about Gallardo's injury issues/fragility before they signed him?

Steven Goff: I'm sure they did their research and concluded that, despite his history, he would contribute throughout the season.

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New York: Why is L.A. so bad? They have Beckham and Donovan. Sure that doesn't mean they'll necessarily be the best, but the worst? Come on? I'm not an L.A. fan at all, but this is disappointing as a soccer fan.

Steven Goff: Beckham, Donovan and ...

You can't win with two marquee players and a roster of players in their twilight (Klein, Vagenas, Lewis, etc) or too young to make a major impact (Franklin, Allen, etc).

To compound problems, it was a dysfunctional situation from the beginning when Gullit was signed as coach.

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Arlington Forest: Does anyone in the Front Office at DCU admit that they read your blog or even Behind the Badge? Or are we to assume that they don't have any idea what their fans think about RFK stadium, Dychenko, Soehn's future, CCL 3rd jersey, etc?

Steven Goff: They all have computers and internet access. I'm sure they read a lot of stuff. Behind the Badge is a DCU product -- I'm sure they are quite aware of what is on their own site.

CCL 3rd jersey???

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Kalorama Triangle: These are my choices for the end-of-season MLS awards. I invite you to criticize my picks without mercy.

MVP: Schellotto over Donovan (even though he wasn't good enough to make the All-Star game roster).

Keeper: Busch over Cannon

Defender: Conrad in a walkover (Segares and Barrett and Parkhurst are OK, too)

Comeback Player: Quaranta

Coach: Michelin Man (Sigi Schmid)

Rookie: Uhhhhh....Franklin? Nyarko? Can we skip this one, perhaps?

Steven Goff: I would add Chad Marshall to the defenders mix.

Rookie of the year: Kheli Dube and Geoff Cameron are high on my list.

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Crystal River, Fla.: With so many large markets wanting to get into MLS, why not have a modified relegation system? Each year MLS allows three USL teams to play in its league. At the end of the year, the worse two of the three teams get relegated, while the USL champion and best remaining team get promoted.

This way, you can cycle large markets into the league, "test drive" potential expansion cities, expose more of the American and Canadian public to the MLS product, and have the excitement of relegation while protecting the investments of the MLS owners.

Steven Goff: Stop with the relegation and promotion! It ain't happening. USL owners can't afford to "invest" in MLS. It's not about the quality of the team and whether they can, or should, compete in the top division; it's about the millions of dollars needed to support the league.

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Salisbury, Md.: Could we realistically see Gallardo not play with D.C. next year? And if so, can we continue to hope that Olsen and Moreno will carry this team?

Steven Goff: Gallardo, Olsen and Moreno -- great careers, but not exactly of the age and physical condition to build a team around in 2009.

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Montgomery Village, Md.: What is Marco Etcheverry doing these days? Any chance he'll ever coach DC United in the near future?

Steven Goff: Marco is still in the area. He has worked with the DCU youth system at times, as I recall, and is very much part of the United family. Whether he has the work ethic to become an assistant coach -- and someday a head coach -- for an MLS team, I'm not sure.

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Laurel, Md.: With all the talk of expansion (to 18) what will prevent MLS going the way of the NASL -- expanding beyond a reasonable market and schedule. What will the eventual schedule and format look like in an 18 team league? What about talent? Technically, MLS got better when it contracted.

Thanks.

Steven Goff: MLS does not spend money like the NASL did, and the structure of the league does not allow one team (Cosmos) to stockpile talent and force other teams to spend beyond their means to compete.

Expansion is good for the league in terms of national exposure, but as you point out, the talent needs to keep up. The way for that to happen is a bigger salary cap and more emphasis on youth development.

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Atlanta: Are there any factors such as ESPN TV contracts that would hinder MLS from considering adding more Canadian cities? Wondering if the US cities stand a greater chance?

Steven Goff: I doubt it.

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14th & Irving: Okay, let's just say that Mexico, Honduras, and Trinidad qualify along with El Salvador, Costa Rica, and USA. Which do you think is toughest road stadium in Central America...El Salvador, Costa Rica or Honduras?

Steven Goff: Costa Rica's Saprissa is the most difficult because the fans are right on top of the field and the playing surface is artificial turf. Besides, Costa Rica's team is usually very good. El Salvador's Cuscatlan is a madhouse, but the USA has won there before. Honduras plays in a big stadium with a track serving as a buffer, and again, the USA has won there.

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Futbolandia: Is Olsen's career over? Yes, bummer.

Does the club want Gallardo back or will they try to find him a new team, allowing them to dump his big salary? Back

Crayton was a nice find, but is Wells good enough to compete for the job? No

What about Emilio and his DP contract? Keep him

Steven Goff: Thanks for your thoughts.

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Steven Goff: I'm done.

Thanks for participating.

Sorry I couldn't get to all the questions.

As always, you can reach me at goffs@washpost.com or through Facebook.

Cheers!

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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Viewpoint is a paid discussion. The Washington Post editorial staff was not involved in the moderation.

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