Soccer Insider Live: D.C. United, U.S. National Team and All Things Soccer

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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 12, 2009; 1:30 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Friday, June 12 to take your questions about all things soccer, preview Saturday's D.C. United-Chicago Fire game and discuss the U.S. National Team's chances in the forthcoming Confederations Cup.

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: Greetings, friends!

It's been a while, so let's get started.....

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Baltimore, Md.: For the October World Cup qualifier vs. Costa Rica at RFK, should we expect a repeat of the 2001 Honduras match when 60-70 percent of the crowd was supporting the visiting team?

Steven Goff: I doubt it. First, there are far fewer Costa Rican supporters than Hondurans fans living in the States. Second, it's the final match of the round and, by then, both teams will have probably clinched World Cup berths. In which case, we're looking at a qualifying friendly.

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Kernersville, N.C.: Any room in the D.C. United salary cap for a summer transfer?

Steven Goff: MLS teams never reveal the amount of salary cap space they have available, but if United were to make a roster change this summer, such as releasing or trading Louis Crayton, they would probably find themselves with a nice surplus. Crayton earns $170,000 (?) and has been relegated to the third keeper. His contract expires in a few weeks. You can't have a guy making that kind of cash in street clothes during games.

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Arlington, Va.: Iran is back in the news, for both politics and sports.

Have you talked to any U.S. national team players about how they would feel playing a friendly in Iran? The Insider has let us know that a friendly for later this fall is possible. I'm guessing the players would be more than happy to leave politics at home in such a unique matchup. But do they have concerns about security, and how would the U.S. federation handle this?

From a Loyal Insider

Steven Goff: Initially, the Iranian federation said their national team would play the USA in mid-October -- which conflicts directly with World Cup qualifying. They also mentioned the possibility of a game in November as well. The USSF told the AP that a game is possible later this year, but at this point, it's much too early to gauge the situation. A USA visit to Tehran would be historic and, in my opinion, free of problems. The scene outside and inside the stadium for the USA-Iran World Cup game in 1998 was memorable (in a good way).

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Western Maryland: How many years did D.C. United sign Dejan Jakovic for? I think he is an outstanding defender (in my mind top 5 in the league - behind Namoff) and is very much an unsung hero for the team.

Steven Goff: Almost all MLS contracts are year to year, with team-held options, but again, the league and teams don't usually make those details public. I imagine Jakovic has a standard four-year deal with options each year. After a slow start, he has been awfully good.

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Paris, France: Bonjour,

Did you know there is a Rue Le Goff in Paris? Does the Insider have aristocratic French ancestors?

Real question: Will Emilio be gone after this season? He's not justifying his high salary with his play.

Steven Goff: Rue Le Goff?!? Get me a photo of that street sign! (goffs@washpost.com)

As for Emilio, great question. He does have five goals this year and earned himself a suspension for sideline antics last week, but the guy is a proven goal scorer in this league. When his finishing touch is on, he's one of the most dangerous players in MLS. That said, is he worth the $750,000 (?) that DCU is paying him? At the moment, maybe not, but let's see how he performs the next few weeks and months.

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Washington, D.C.: Goff,

Just saw on the Soccer Insider that Freddy Adu is hoping for a Spanish club (maybe even on interested?). But honestly, and no offense to Freddy, but who in Europe would still be interested in him? He's failed to grab a starting spot in both Portugal and France ... so who's left that would want him?

Thanks for the chats!

washingtonpost.com: Soccer Insider: D.C. United Will Play..... (Washington Post, June 11)

Steven Goff: Freddy actually did pretty well in Portugal last year, and Benfica thought he would benefit from the loan to Monaco. Clearly, that did not happen. I do think Freddy belongs in Europe (he's still only 20 years old), but it will be interesting to see if Benfica has plans for him this season and sells/loans him elsewhere on the continent. Perhaps the Netherlands?

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Reston, Va.: Who will win the Confederations Cup?

Steven Goff: Spain. Next question.

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13th St. S.E., Washington, D.C.: Is Gomez not fit or has he reached the point in his career where is best used as a 30-40 minute second half spark? Thanks for doing the chat!

Steven Goff: He had fitness issues and then injury concerns this spring, but I'd be surprised if he didn't start tomorrow. If he a 90-minute player anymore? Probably not. Is he good for 60-75 minutes? He should be.

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Mt. Pleasant, Washington, D.C.: To me, DC United looks like a playoff team but I'm not convinced they're a real contender for the MLS Cup. Who do you see as the most plausible MLS champion this season?

Steven Goff: Chicago, despite the recent dip in form, is going to offer a strong lineup all year. Chivas USA, despite all of its injuries, is off to a good start. You never know about New England and I'm still keeping a close eye on Columbus. DCU is definitely a quality side that seems to have found a goalkeeper (Wicks) and a steady backline. If they seize upon their scoring opportunities with greater consistency, they'll be in the hunt. But if I were a betting man, I would go with Houston (at the moment).

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Anonymous: Goff,

Any idea when tickets will go on sale for the July 8 Gold Cup game vs. Honduras at RFK? Also, I'd love your thoughts on the upcoming transfer window. Who do you see moving and where? Thanks so much, and keep up the great work!

Steven Goff: Tickets are already on sale, aren't they? Call DCU for information: 202-587-5000.

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Falls Church, Va.: Steven, things have gotten awfully quiet on the stadium search front since the PG County initiative failed and Will Chang bought out Victor McFarlan. On the surface it seems like very little is happening. Is that so, or is there a lot more activity but with a lower profile?

Steven Goff: Yes to the last part -- low-key activity. After losing the public relations war and seemingly negotiating in the public eye last time around, DCU seems to be taking a quieter approach and won't make any statements until legitimate progress is made.

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Tallahassee, Fla.: Mexico is a shoo-in for South Africa, right? ... Right?

Steven Goff: Hmmmm......

Yes. It's CONCACAF. Does anyone really think the USA or Mexico won't qualify? It's not going to be easy for either team -- El Salvador beat El Tri and tied the USA after leading by two goals at home -- but you are beginning to see some separation as Costa Rica charged to the front. T&T is in big trouble and, over the long run, I don't know if El Salvador, which has already played three home games, has the talent to make a sustained run. That would leave Honduras as the wild card in this race -- can the Catratchos overtake CR, USA or MEX for a top-three spot and avoid the playoff with a South American side?

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Stone Ridge, Va.: So how well are those tickets to the Real Madrid friendly selling?

Steven Goff: I have not heard any specifics numbers yet, but DCU officials were saying that today's launch of the individual ticket sale has been huge. I'll pass along overall sales when I hear them.

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Vindaloo, Md.: Given the possibility of a thunderstorm tomorrow, what happens if the WPS match gets delayed? Will the MLS match have a full warm-up regardless?

Steven Goff: Great question. There is more than a hour between the end of the WPS game and kickoff of the MLS match, so a slight delay wouldn't cause big problems. I would imagine, since United's game is not on national TV, everything would just be pushed back a bit.

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Philadelphia: Mr. Goff -

thanks for doing these chats! Quick question regarding MLS. Like in any sport you have natural rivals - Eagles vs Giants - Redskins vs Cowboys etc. Are there natural rivals in MLS? If so who would you say D.C. United's rivals are? What are your thoughts on Philadelphia Union's coaching hire?

Steven Goff: As Home Depot Center tenants, LA and Chivas are heated rivals. Chicago and NY exchanged some nastiness in years past. DC and New England had a mild rivalry going for a few years. DC-NY should be a good one, and has been in the past, but the Red Bulls' problems this year have dampered it. Toronto and Columbus are building one. I think you'll see a DC-Philly-NY edge starting next year, and Seattle-Portland-Vancouver in the future.

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Washington, D.C.: So I take it that this time in Costa Rica it wasn't just you, Grant Wahl, and reporters from the AP and New York Times. True? And do you prefer being one of the few, or one of the several?

Steven Goff: There were five or six USA-based reporters in Costa Rica, but no NY Times, LA Times or USA Today. Sadly, for financial reasons, the numbers of traveling media have dropped off the past few years. That said, the NY Times sent a staff reporter to Confederations Cup in South Africa and I'm sure many media folks will be at Azteca for the USA qualifier in August. The more, the merrier!

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Guide Rock, Neb.: Could you please set the record straight for all of us: can DC United build a stadium in one of the RFK parking lots? Is this possible, or is there something keeping them from pursuing this avenue?

Steven Goff: They don't -- and can't -- control the land. I don't know all the details, but DCU has said in the past that a new stadium couldn't and wouldn't be built there. Perhaps in the wake of the Prince George's County fallout, however, the RFK land will be reconsidered. It's the ideal location -- subway, highways, central location in the metro area, etc.

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Leesburg, Va.: Hello Steven. Thanks for all your coverage!!

Any insight as to whether United is talking to Loudoun County official about a potential stadium? Seems with the news of a minor league baseball team, they aren't at all opposed to that type of growth.

Steven Goff: They're looking everywhere -- in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs as well as the District. Loudoun is an awfully long drive for a lot of fans, and the subway is still years from making it out there. The proposed minor league baseball stadium is a different situation because its seating capacity would be much smaller than DCU requires and its fan base, I'm guessing, would come from a 10-mile radius. DCU's audience is spread out all over the region.

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Arlington, Va.: Is it remotely possible for Bob Bradley to justify the omission of Torres and Adu from the 18-man squad last Saturday? Torres was one of the better U.S. players in the dreadful first half against Costa Rica, and for that he gets

A) taken out to start the second half, and

B) not even considered against Honduras. Does Bradley have any idea what he's doing? Clark and Mastroenni in the middle together? Good God.

washingtonpost.com: Soccer Insider: Matchnight: USA-Honduras (Washington Post, June 6)

Steven Goff: Bradley probably disagrees with your assessment of young Torres. With Bradley suspended and Edu hurt, Bradley felt Clark's two-way play and Mastroeni's physical presence and experience would work. Clark was excellent all night and Mastroeni, who faltered in Costa Rica and wasn't particularly good against Honduras, was removed at halftime for Feilhaber, who was very good. So it all worked out in the end. I'm sure we'll see plenty of Adu and Torres at the Confederations Cup. (Mastroeni is not on the roster, Bradley is back and Edu remains out.)

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North Bethesda, Md.: Any impressions from the U.S. Men's National Team coaches about Robles? Any idea how they view him, in comparison to Brad Guzan? Seems to me this may play out as controversial -- yet another example of Bradley being seduced by reputation and clubs, rather than playing time.

Steven Goff: Guzan trains -- and occasionally plays -- for an English Premier League club. Robles has emerged on the USA radar after a couple years at Kaiserslautern, a German second-division side. The Miami training camp and Confederations Cup, which requires three keepers on the roster, was/is a great opportunity to take a closer look at Robles in a national team setting. If he performs well, I'm sure they'll stick him in a match in the coming months.

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Woodley Park, Washington, D.C.: I think it's pretty great to get insight into what's going on with Freddy through his twitter feed, but do you think it's weird he's posting stuff about being bummed to not make it in the MNT lineup, and about how his agent has potential transfers lined up for him?

washingtonpost.com: Freddy Adu's Twitter Feed (Twitter.com)

Steven Goff: Yes.

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Kernersville, N.C.: What can you tell us of Chalatenango?

washingtonpost.com: Soccer Insider: D.C. United Will Play ..... Chalatenango (Washington Post, June 11)

Steven Goff: City in northwest El Salvador, population of about 30,000.

Oh, the club that DCU will play in the Champions League? I know nothing. Sorry.

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Baltimore, Md.: Steve,

Will the US Men's team roster look substantially the same or substantionally different between the Confederations Cup this month and the Gold Cup next month? Do you think Bradley will use the Gold Cup to expand the player pool, or at least try a few different lineups?

Steven Goff: Substantially different.

The foreign-based players for the WC qualifiers and Confed Cup need a break after long club seasons. The MLS-based players for the qualifiers and Confed Cup need to rejoin their in-season clubs. I imagine we'll see some crossover, but also a lot of new faces (Troy Perkins? Eddie Johnson? Kenny Cooper? etc)

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Washington, D.C.: Florentino Perez: Savior of Real Madrid or Destroyer of European football?

Steven Goff: Hmmm, good question.

Both.

For the economic impact of Real's moves, read the Bloomberg story I linked to in this morning's blog entry.

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San Luis Obispo, Calif.: Goff, what's the matter with the Earthquakes? Does Yallop just not have the right mix of players yet? Is it fair to say that U.C. Santa Barbara or Cal Poly could take down San Jose?

Steven Goff: Ha!

Bad mix of players and Convey hasn't had much impact. Yallop made some moves this week, so we'll have to wait and see if that makes an impact. The summer signing window opens mid-July as well.

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Fort Benning, Ga.: Steve, do you see Quaranta and/or Pontius getting an invite to the U.S. Men's National Team for the Gold Cup?

Steven Goff: Good question. How about Bryan Namoff at right back?

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washingtonpost.com: Here's the Bloomberg story Steve was talking about: Real's Bet on Ronaldo May Bring Risks, Inflation (Bloomberg, June 12)

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Four Courts, Va.: Can we take a second and laugh at Newcastle? That's what happens when you offer 70,000 pounds a week to mediocrity like Alan Smith, the classy Joey Barton and Damien Duff. Funny how they all want to stay now and propel Newcastle back up to the EPL, when in reality they don't want to leave since then they've have to take a pay-cut.

Steven Goff: Giggle to your heart's delight.....

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Los Angeles: How many goals will the U.S. score at the Confederations Cup?

I say two, and one will be an own goal. Am I too pessimistic?

Steven Goff: Maybe one against Italy, maybe one against Brazil, but the sky's the limit against Egypt! Seriously, it's an awfully tough draw for the Americans. Fortunately, this is a FIFA-contrived tournament with nothing at stake.

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Reston, Va.: It looks like the number of ties in MLS has died down over the past few weeks...was that phase a coincidence, or what?

Steven Goff: Just a phase.

But I kinda miss all those draws ;-(

kidding

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Arlington, VA: Are the Freedom-United doubleheaders part of the Freedom ticket packages? If so, shouldn't we be seeing a nice attendance bump for these games? It'd be nice to hit 20,000 again one of these days ...

Also, any word on whether Jakovic is looking at a call-up to Canada for the Gold Cup?

Steven Goff: As I recall, the Freedom sold ticket packages for the seven games at SoccerPlex and a separate package for the three RFK appearances.

The first doubleheader provided a minor bump. You'll see a bigger one tomorrow -- perhaps a total attendance in the upper teens?

Jakovic told me a couple weeks ago that he expects to play in the Gold Cup for Canada.

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Anonymous: Do you think the additions of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo will sell more tickets for the D.C. United - Real Madrid game in August?

Steven Goff: Absolutely! The current Real roster has limited appeal. The future roster with Ronaldo and Kaka makes it special. A big-time friendly has suddenly become a big-time "event."

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20001, Washington, D.C.: "Torres was one of the better U.S. players in the dreadful first half against Costa Rica"

Don't overlook the atrocious lack of effort by Torres and his non-chase, non-tackle leading to the first Tico goal. I can see a manager being furious about that. Bradley must have been, since Torres was removed at halftime and didn't feature vs Honduras. Effort is not something that U.S. teams and managers are accustomed to lacking. Thoughts?

Steven Goff: Good points.

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Gelsenkirchen, Germany: Goff!

What great news about Jermaine Jones! Do you envision a German-based pairing of Bradley and Jones for 2010? Or do you even see Coach Bradley calling him up, and how quickly if he does?

Thanks!

washingtonpost.com: Schalke Midfielder Jones Wants to Play for U.S. (Associated Press, June 12)

Steven Goff: Let's not get ahead of ourselves!

He just made his declaration this week.

Nonetheless, he's a player that, from all indications, would bolster the USA roster.

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Washington, D.C.: At World Cup qualifiers outside the U.S., do you ever feel threatened or in danger physically? Do the fans see you as an American, or as an unbiased observer?

Steven Goff: I like to confuse them by carrying around a home-team hat or scarf as a prop. In general, fans leave the visiting media alone. There was a minor incident a few years ago in San Salvador, but I have never felt endangered anywhere in Central America. In fact, I have loved every experience!

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Arlington: Thank you for putting up with me Steve, hope I've learned from my previous cautions and I'm less of a pain in the back these days ... :-)

My question is: Are you writing a book, or do you have any plans to publish a book at any point in the future?

Steven Goff: I had two book possibilities in recent years, but couldn't follow through because of daily work commitments. Now is probably not the best time to take a leave of absence from the newspaper business. Someday.....

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Steven Goff: Ok, time is up. Back to the blog and the Saturday DCU-Freedom story. Sorry I could only address a fraction of the questions.

Keep reading the Soccer Insider! It's delicious.

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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.


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