Goff Predicts U.S. Win in Women's World Cup
Steven Goff, the Post's soccer reporter, was on Sports
Online to field questions about the Women's World Cup,
the future of the U.S. men's national team and D.C. United. The transcript of the discussion follows.
Arlington: There was a fair amount of grousing among players, coaches, etc. before the WWC started about the fact that only women are being used as officials instead of choosing the top referees regardless of gender. After watching many of the games this weekend I was impressed that the referees really did a fine job for the most part. They certainly didn't seem to make any more mistakes than the men did at last summer's WC in France. Has there been much discussion about this topic now that the games are underway?
Steve Goff: It hasn't been a topic of discussion because there apparently have been few controversial calls. From what I could tell, the officiating has been very good and FIFA seems justified in selection female referees.
São Paulo, Brazil:
The America Cup will start next week in Paraguay.Do you know why U.S.will not participate? In my opinion , competition like America Cup would be a good opportunity to develop soccer at U.S. assuming that people would follow the competition by television, talk about , etc...
Steve Goff: Playing in Copa America was quite beneficial for the U.S. team in 1995 after upsetting Chile and Argentina, and advancing to the semifinals. Such experiences are rare for American teams.
Washington, DC: Why don't more news agents carry information on the Women's World Cup? I find it very dishearting to see that our Women's National Team -number one in the world- doesn't get any acknowledgement for their accomplishments.
Steve Goff: As usual, newspapers and the Internet are the places to turn for soccer information. Except for the games on ESPN and occasional highlights on the local news, television doesn't provide much coverage.
Given the tremendous response -both public and corporate---definitely in that order- to the Women's World Cup, and specifically to Team USA, where do we go from here? Assuming that Team USA wins the Cup over the Chinese in front of 90,000+ at the Rose Bowl; will this finally be a small signal that US Soccer has come of age?
Steve Goff: The Women's World Cup is proving that, once again, major soccer events in the United States are a big sell. The turnout and publicity for this tournament is good for the game in the USA, no doubt.
Silver Spring, Md.:
Steve Goff: The components are certainly there for a pro league: American players, foreign players, sponsors (to some degree), public knowledge. Like with MLS, stadiums might be a problem; the WWC facilities are too big for a regular league and there has always been a shortage of medium-sized stadiums.
warrenton, virginia: Despite the hoopla, I thought the US win over Denmark was amateurish--too much jubilation -including a victory lap!-over a win against a fairly weak team. Do you agree women's soccer needs to become more professional in attitude and save the celebration for winning the Cup?
Steve Goff: They were quite excited, weren't they? I think the players' reaction at the end was more toward the crowd than the actual result of the game. Many players spoke of being overwhelmed and emotional when they took the field, and I believe their behavior was a way of thanking the crowd and enjoying the moment.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: In the WWC, Mia Hamm has garnered the most attention, but who will emerge as the top supporting cast member on the U.S. team?
Steve Goff: As the tournament progresses, Mia will receive more defensive attention. That's why, I think Tiffeny Milbrett will emerge as the U.S. team's secondary star. Her goal-scoring will become crucial to the Americans' success.
Washington, DC: Were you surprised by the poor showing of the Mexican's Saturday, given that they played well against the US in the Spring?
Steve Goff: The Mexicans were certainly outclassed by Brazil and although they have many American-trained players on the field, only a few belong at this level. I'd be surprised if Mexico bounces back and makes it to the quarterfinals; they seem to be here for the experience and perhaps are looking ahead to qualifying for the Olympics next year.
Palmyra, Virginia: It seems to me that soccer is not as well "merchandised" yet as other American sports, do you feel this has any impact on the public awareness of the teams? I am curious because I have a hard time finding any fan gear in stores in virginia.
Steve Goff: True, soccer merchandise is not readily available around the country. It seems the best place to find stuff is on various internet sites. As interest grows in the national teams and MLS clubs, I'm sure soccer merchandise will become more mainstream.
Charlottesville, VA: I'm all for a women's league and I would be a big supporter of it, as I have for MLS. But has MLS gained enough momentum and become accepted enough to start a women's league?
Steve Goff: I'm not sure MLS and a women's league would attract the same audience, especially in the ethnic communities. The women would need to attract the suburban families to be successful, whereas MLS---at the moment, anyway---is very reliant on Hispanic fans (especially in LA, Chicago, NY, etc.)
Cos Cob, CT: Do you think girls in America will learn that a style of play such as Brazil's can be just as effective, and much more entertaining than the US' emphasis on techncalities - which takes away from the joy of the game?
Steve Goff: Everyone plays a different style, and I think the American players are happy the way they play. No one plays like the Brazilians, men or women. Certainly Brazil's women have made great progress, but unless the US team falls apart, I don't think we'll see a different emphasis here.
Fairfax VA: We are attending the three dates at JKC and have been looking for information on parking. Will the same "rules" be in place for the WWC games as for Redskins? i.e. will there only be the few distant cash lots and most lots reserved for Club parking?
Steve Goff: It appears all parking is the same: $10. However, as with the Redskins, some areas are reserved for club seating. How much, I don't know. For more info, you might want to call the WWC organizers at the stadium: 301-276-6620.
Washington, DC: After the first round of matches in the WWC, which teams and players have impressed you?
Steve Goff: Brazil looked very good, but the opponent was rather weak. Germany and Norway struggled a bit, but should advance without too much trouble. China was strong, as was the US. The biggest mystery may be Nigeria, which won its opener and also upset China in an exhibition last week.
Fairfax, Virginia: There's always such a rush to crown somebody as the "Michael Jordan of something," whether it be Mia Hamm for soccer or Chamique Holdsclaw for the WNBA. Hamm certainly has the skill and stats to back up the claim, but does she have the other intangibles -- charisma, widespread appeal -- that Jordan was famous for?
Steve Goff: Mia is a reluctant superstar. She is a little shy and is not in love with herself like so many athletic stars of this day. She certainly has talent and appeal to become soccer's Jordan; if she has a big tournament and the US wins the title, I think we will see her face everywhere!
College Park, Maryland: Is there a reason why Univision is not covering any of the women's world cup tournament? I hope their corporate executives didn't feel that soccer is just a man's game.
Steve Goff: I would have to guess that Univision simply does not believe its audience is interested in women's soccer.
Washington, D.C.: If the U.S. Womens team play against Brazil, what specific preparations will the U.S. team conduct to maintain the Brazilian scoring attack?
Steve Goff: I'm certainly not an expert on tactics, but I would guess the US would heavily pressure Brazil's midfield and keep the ball away from them as much as possible.
Queens, New York: Will the U.S. win the Women's World Cup as they're expected to do? Who poses the biggest threat to unseat the U.S. team?
Steve Goff: My prediction is the US will win, but they will have trouble with Germany in the quarters, possibly Brazil in the semis and Norway in the final.
Richmond VA: How has Bruce Arena been able to turn the Men's team around so quickly? Has it been to stress better techniques, a better game plan, or simply getting the players to believe in themselves?
Steve Goff: All of the above, plus he has chosen players who were either ignored in the past or have developed in recent years in MLS. Players such as Chris Armas, CJ Brown, Eddie Lewis, etc. Arena is a winner, and the players believe in him and enjoy playing for him. What I've noticed the most about the Arena-coached team is that they play with great confidence; they're rarily retreating or hesitant in their approach.
Washington DC: What do you think MLS teams need to average in terms of attendance in order to be financially successful or stable?
Steve Goff: The league would like to have every team averaging at least 15,000. That's not a problem in DC, Chicago, Columbus, New England and others, but obviously things do not look good for KC and Miami. In addition, a better quality of play in LA and NY would lift their mediocre attendance figures.
Dover, NH: Short and simple: Will MLS be around in 10 years?
Steve Goff: Short and simple: Ummmmm, maybe. The league is in good financial shape for the next five years, but investors will need to see growth in attendance and sponsors in that period to keep the league going.
Philadelphia, PA: What do you know about the chances for a MLS team in Philadelphia? I don't know how MLS can succeed without one of the premier sports cities in the country on board. Also, it would be a great local rivalry for DC United.
Steve Goff: Philadelphia would be a natural for MLS, but...where would the team play? The Vet is out, Franklin Field needs major work. Someone is going to have to build a medium-sized stadium or a larger arena that an MLS team can share.
Lima, Peru: There's been a strong push from the U.S. Soccer Federation to identify young Latino Americans to the national pool, are you aware of any new talented players recently scouted?
Steve Goff: I can't name any young teenagers besides the ones we've seen on the under-17 and under-20 national teams, but perhaps you are aware of the young Peruvian, Jose Alegria, who is supposed to play for DC United. His work permit has been in limbo for many months and he's not been allowed to re-enter the country. Once he does, and once his citizenship is cleared up in the near future, I hear he could be a very good player for United.
Washington, DC: Steve, Any hope that the shoot-out and the NFL-style time-keeping will ever be dropped by the MLS? I can almost stand the shoot-out - for play-offs, etc., since it beats PK's by a long shot, but ties -"draws"- are a part of soccer. However, the clock business just isn't "soccer" if you will. Or is this just a lost cause to try to change?
Steve Goff: I don't like the shootout, and I don't know anyone involved in the sport who does. Perhaps this will be the final season of ridiculous shootouts. As for the clock, I have no problem with the standard American timekeeping on the scoreboard, but the league needs to be consistent. The fiasco at RFK last Saturday was a prime example of how things ought not to work.
Silver Spring, MD: Bruce Arena and the Mens National team have been impresive so far. But they have yet to face the A team of any big power. How do you think they will do against Germany and Brazil in the upcoming Confederations Cup?
Steve Goff: Germany will be highly motivated to beat the US after losing 3-0 in February at Jacksonville. I'm sure the Brazilians still remember the 1-0 loss in LA early last year. However, I'm not sure how many "starters" for either of those squads will be in Mexico for the Confederations Cup. Bierhoff has said he won't play, and Brazil may lose some stars following Copa America.
Washignton, DC: Many soccer fans are always complaining that there is a "conspiracy" among the sports establishment -especially wirters- against soccer. How has the Post-which I think has great coverage by the way- and other news outlets in the area treated the sport?
Steve Goff: Trust me, there is no conspiracy. Every media organization makes its own decisions about what to cover and how much to cover it. The Post covers soccer well, as do many major daily newspapers. Television news has little interest in soccer, although Channel 7 and NewsChannel 8 have done a good job with United this year.
Springfield, OH: United may have the four best defenders in the league. How come they have allowed so many goals?
Steve Goff: Good question! The problem of late has been injuries (Pope and Llamosa), but United has not played as well defensively as they should. Lot of little mistakes, perhaps some lapses in concentration, it all adds up. If DC corrects its defensive problems, they will be very difficult to beat by the end of the season.
Washington, D.C.: Do you think D.C. United will ever play against a Manchester United or a Juventus team someday? Why doesn't GM Kevin Payne organize such a quality tournament? Can you imagine the enormous amount of people that would show up at RFK to see that?
Steve Goff: DC's best chance for a major intl tournament is this new club tournament,which will take place in January in Brazil. If united wins the CONCACAF champions cup again, it will advance to the world gig. From there, I'm sure it will be much easier to schedule intl opponents.
Washington, D.C.: Although we in DC may revel in the sad state of the Metrostars, I have to assume that the league needs a successful franchise in New York in order to have a chance financially? Do you think they can turn themselves around without new management?
Steve Goff: The MetroStars need a new coach, new players and especially, a new front office. Everything they've done has been a disaster, and the fans in NY have lost their patience. Perhaps it's time for the league office to step in.
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