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Good afternoon folks. As you can tell, it's been a bit of a slow news period. That doesn't mean we won't be able to provide you with some good reading material and updates on both MLS and European soccer as they become available.
Here is part four of the most recent Q&A. Yes, I know, it's taken FOREVER to get to these, but I'm convinced the longer it takes to do these the tougher it gets to finish them (and between fielding more than 120 questions and removing the ones from people trying to ask five and six different questions it can get pretty tough). I'm determined to knock them out though and after this batch, there will be one more part before I post the next Q&A. I am shooting for either a New Year's Eve or New Year's Day Q&A so keep an eye out for that.
For now, here are some more of Your Question Answered. Enjoy:
ART– What did you think of Don Garber’s State of the League address this year? What topics were not addressed by the Commissioner but should have been?
IVES– I think he covered topics that needed to be covered, such as expansion and roster size changes. I don’t think the subject of the salary cap was discussed enough. Obviously the CBA is about to expire so it’s probably a sensitive subject but I think the league is trying to shy away from the fact that MLS teams aren’t happy with the meager increase in the cap.
JIM– As always, great site Ives! Any update on the RBNY practice facility?
IVES– I expect to have an update after the new year.
RICH– Which players left unprotected by their clubs in the MLS expansion (and/or not traded in advance of the Expansion draft) surprised you? Also, how well did Seattle do in the expansion draft?
IVES– I would say that the following players surprised me by being made available in the expansion draft:
Two names I'm sure people were expecting to see were Marco Pappa and Jeff Parke. I was initially surprised to hear that they would be left unprotected but after hearing the stories behind them being left unprotected it made sense and therefore I wasn't shocked when I saw the lists.
As for how Seattle did in the expansion draft, I thought Seattle did okay, but not as good as it could have. If Jeff Parke winds up signing with the Sounders (which I hear is a possibility) then their expansion drafts winds up a good one.
WILLIAM– There appear to be many strong candidates for 2011 MLS expansion and the Wilpons didn’t even submit a bid (yet). When do you think the next expansion application deadline will be and for what year and for how many teams/cities will expansion be targeted? Thanks for doing this!!!
IVES– William, it's tough to say when the next deadline will be but if 2013 is the next year for expansion, then January of 2011 would make sense as a target date.
JACOB A.– Any more buzz about Renken to Arsenal been heard from the deeper sides of US Soccer that the normal ear cant hear?
IVES– Haven't heard anything new about Charles Renken but it should be pointed out that Renken cannot sign a professional country outside of the United States until he turns 18 so while he might be able to join Arsenal's youth academy, he wouldn't be under a binding contract.
BRETT– why is it that we put so much emphasis on the MLS Cup?? i know follows suit with the regular prime time US sports as far as playoffs and CHAMPION… but why dont we put more emphasis on the Supporters Shield?? why does the media look at the MLS cup as the big prize, while the SS which is the true champion of the league, gets overlooked (for the most part)?? and i know the SS winners get into all the outside tournys, but the media as well as the world sees the MLS Cup the crowning of the league…
IVES– Brett, just because YOU think the Supporters Shield is the "true championship" doesn't make it so. In the United States the champion is determined by the playoffs. That's for all team sports (well, except for college football). Winning the Supporters Shield is an accomplishment, but in the United States, being able to perform and deliver in the playoffs is the ultimate accomplishment.
JACOBI MILLIONAIRE– How do you pronounce your name?
IVES– Eye- viss.
Q– Ives, thanks for the site. Great work. You have said on a couple of occasions that MLS is not one of the premier leagues around the world. I think that most of us would agree with that statement. Can you rank the world's top leagues? I don't know how far down MLS is on your list, but could you rank all the way down to there (if not a little further)? Bonus question: Could you list a best XI of current HEAD coaches (from national or club teams) who were once players? I started thinking about this once Argentina named Maradona coach.
IVES– I have done the ranking of leagues before, you will need to look that one up. As far as where MLS ranks, I would put it somewhere in the 10-15 range, As for a Best XI of current managers based on their ability as players, here goes:
———–Diego Maradona—-Marco Van Basten——Hugo Sanchez————
——————-Josep Guardiola————Carlo Ancelotti———————–
Stevie Nicol——–Laurent Blanc——-Steve Bruce—————Markus Babbel
I am absolutely not married to this list so folks who want to point out the managers I forgot are more than welcome to.
1. What's your preference – American-style team names (New England Revolution), European-style teams names (FC Dallas), or a combination of both (Seattle Sounders FC)?
2. I keep up on details of sports stadiums. Of the already-existing teams, all have plans for a stadium if they don't have one already. Red Bull Arena is underway, and the Wizards are finally moving closer to making the Bannister Mall site a reality. Past that, there are no real firm plans. Houston is looking at a site near Minute Maid Park, and they only want $10 million in financing from Harris County. The Earthquakes have a spot near San Jose International Airport, but the economy may be putting the project in Jeopardy. We've also heard that the Krafts are looking at Somerville as a home for the Revs. And D.C. United has Poplar Point in their sights, but the city is balking at financing; Prince Georges County has said that if the city won't take the team, they certainly will. Beyond Kansas City, which seems to have the deal as good as done, which team will be the next to get a stadium? And do you see Bob Kraft paying for a stadium himself like he did with The Razor, should no one want to fund the project? Thanks, Ives, for all you do. Only one of two blogs in my bookmarks!
IVES– 1. I think both can work depending on the name, but I probably prefer American-sounding names, maybe because they're less difficult to mess up.
2. As for stadiums, I don't think any stadium projects after KC are truly close to done. Houston has that major funding hurdle to get over, and if that is cleared next month, you can add a Dynamo stadium to the list of projects that look good for completion. Funny enough I think the St. Louis stadium will be done before any of the existing MLS teams without stadiums (except for KC and Houston). And yes, I think St. Louis is getting a team.
MARK– Ives, in your opinion, what are the top 5 colleges that have produced the best MLS talent? Thanks!
IVES– I'd have to think about that one, but here's a quick stab at it:
Those may not be the schools that have produced the most MLS players, but when you talk numbers and quality, those five are pretty tough.
SEISCO– Will Red Bull Park, excuse me Red Bull Arena, be far and away the best stadium in MLS? And why did they change it to "Arena"?
IVES– From what I know about the stadium's design, I think it will be the best stadium in the league. Right now I'd give that honor to Rio Tinto Stadium. As for the change to Red Bull Arena, I guess Arena sounds more official than Park.
JJ– What's the story with Marvell Wynne not getting a call up for this qualifier? Is he really that far down the list? Considering who is not there (Gooch, Boca, Dolo, etc.) I would have thought he was a shoe-in.
IVES– If we're talking about the Guatemala qualifier, I'm not sure what the deal was there. I still think Wynne will get a long look in 2009 so I wouldn't worry about him missing one qualifier. Now, if he were to not be called in to the January camp then you could start wondering what the deal is.
KAYLA– Ives, Why does your site ROCK so much?!
IVES– Thanks Kayla, glad you think SBI rocks. If it does, it rocks because enthusiastic readers make it fun to run SBI.
SCOTT– With all this economic turmoil and consensus among experts that this is "only the beginning," I'm wondering what your take is on how this might affect the sudden influx of interest in MLS expansion teams? Looking at the latest stats on the economy and you'd think new investors like those in Vancouver, Portland, Montreal, St Louis etc would be nuts to place bets on soccer right now.
IVES– Well Scott, plenty of economist would argue that projects such as the public/private stadium projects MLS specializes in are exactly the type of job-producing endeavors that we need to see more of during tough times. Times are hard, but the only way out of this mess is to believe in business and the American consumer. Deciding to close up shop and not build anything new is exactly the type of thinking that will keep us in this recession.
KPTX– I know this is out of left field and could never, ever happen, but imagine the US national team playing in the EPL or La Liga – how do you think they would fare? Would they be fighting for a spot in Europe, mid-table or fighting against relegation? Like I said, completely hypothetical, just wanted to know where you thought the team would stand against that kind of competition. Thanks and keep up the great work.
IVES– Interesting question, not totally unique, but still interesting. I remember asking Clint Dempsey if he thought an MLS all-star team could do well in the EPL and he basically said no. That said, I think the U.S. national team could be somewhere between 7th and 12th in the EPL. Now if someone wants to actually try this out in Football Manager please leat me know how it turns out.
DAVE– 1) Do you think sacha kljestan makes a move this summer and what would be a good league for him? 2) Best movie you have seen this year?
IVES- 1. I actually thought Kljestan would move in January. As for what leagues are good for him. I think the Dutch League, French League and La Liga are three leagues I could see him playing in. 2. I would probably say Dark Knight, but maybe I'll have to do a Top 10 list this week.
CA– What do you think of the first year of the US Soccer Development Academy? What should be the next steps for the US Soccer Development Academy?
IVES– I think the academy set-up has been a huge success and has done well to create a uniform direction for youth soccer in this country. I don't think people realize the challenges faced when trying to bring youth soccer in this country under one umbrella and heading toward common goals. The way so many programs have embraced the academy tells me that there is a widespread belief in this being the right way to run youth soccer in this country. As for what the next steps are, I don't think you can have just one year and suddenly chart a new course. The program will be tweaked, I'm sure, and youth programs late to the party will start to join. I see nothing but positives so far, but I'm sure there are folks who will focus on negatives, which is part of it all.
HOMEY– I hear a lot of debate in MLS between having a traditional regular season champion vs. a playoff format. As it stands, there's very little reward for finishing on top in the regular season. I have a unique idea for a compromise that might satisfy both sides. Why not have the regular season winner get an automatic berth in the title game. Then the next 8 can play over 3 weeks in a playoff format to determine the other participant. Then, while the regular season champ is waiting, they can play home-and-home with the USL champion. Is this such a crazy idea?
IVES– While I agree that there should be more of a reward for being regular season champion, I don't think your suggestion is all that reasonable. My suggestion was to have conference champions receive byes in a six-team playoff format. Now that we'll have 15 teams in 2009, we will stay with eight playoff teams. I think going back to the three-game format makes the most sense, with the higher seed hosting two of the three games.
I like the idea of the MLS champ playing the USL champ but that's a conversation for another day.
PICO– Hey Ives, thanks for the great work on the site. I am afraid the network guys are going to block it since I visit it so many times during the day. Having grown up watching and listening football broadcasts in Spanish, I have to say none of the English announcers come close to the Spanish ones, or Portuguese for that matter. What would be the English equivalents for terms like "un delantero de enganche", "un pivote", "volante de contencion", "un carrilero", "un clasico numero 7, 9, 10". Do we have US players that conform to those positions? Also, one of my favorite phrases is: "El portero se tiro para la foto". Besides Ray Hudson, I cannot think of any colorful lines. You have any? Cheers
IVES– I'll agree that Latin soccer announcers give the game much more life and excitement than their American counterparts, but I do think English announcers in the EPL do a good job of telling the story. Not sure what it will take for American announcers to show real passion that comes through feeling like real passion, but I would agree that there is something lacking.
As for your Spanish soccer positions, here goes:
Delantero de enganche-Think you mashed up two positions here.
An Enganche is a playmaker, at least that’s how I understand it in the Spanish I’m used to.
Pivote- Defensive midfielder Volante de contencion- Also defensive midfielder, more central midfielder
Carrilero- wing players, either fullbacks or midfielders, I’ve hard the term used for both. Comes from the Spanish word Carril, which means lane, as in running up and down the lane/flank.
As for funny soccer lines, Nobody tops Ray Hudson, but I'd also argue that you don't need funny lines for a soccer game to be entertaining.
SCOTT M– What happens with the RBNY goalie situation next year? Does Conway get cut and Cepero automatically become the starter?
IVES– If I were a betting man I would bet on Conway being traded, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see Conway and Cepero battle for the job, with Conway regaining the job. That said, it's hard to ignore how well Cepero did in the playoffs, which is why I think the Red Bulls will listen to good offers for him and while some folks might not think Conway has trade value I would argue that he played very well before first learning about his suspension. That knowledge clearly affected Conway's game and he was never the same the rest of the year.