Good afternoon all and welcome to the latest installment of Your Questions Answered. This is the fifth and final chapter of the most recent Q&A session (and yes, by recent I mean six weeks ago). It took a while (a long while) but it's finally done.
There are a lot of expansion questions in this batch, as well as questions about promotion/relegation (yes, unfortunately) as well as an Eddie Johnson question (and yes, that's him against Manchester United last year. Let's just say I couldn't find a picture of him in his Cardiff uniform).
Keep on the look out for the new Q&A either tomorrow or Thursday. For now, here are some more of your questions answered:
SCOTT– Great site Ives. You've got my vote as the best! Q: Which of the following scenarios do you think will happen first? And as a followup will it be in our lifetime? a. A USMNT player will win FIFA World Player of the year. b. A player will win FIFA World Player of the year while playing for MLS.
IVES– I would say A happens first without a doubt. Will it happen in the next 20 years? I'm not so sure. Next 40 years? I could see it happening. Again, there's nothing to say that some prodigy won't come through the ranks and emerge as a world star in the next decade, but the FIFA Award is the very best in the world. We still have a way to go to develop that sort of player.
ARKJAYBACK– Thanks for all of the updates, I visit the site as much as I go on Facebook. Do you think we will see a major influx of foreign stars and US international veterans to MLS around 2010-2012? There's the group of foreign players who have said they want to come here and/or may come if the situation is right: Henry, Ronaldo, Stalteri, Veron, Shevchenko, Ze Roberto, Anelka, Pardo, Riquelme, Silvestre, Coupet, De Guzman, etc. Then there's the group of US internationals that will most likely be out of the national team picture after 2010: Califf, Demerit, Friedel, Convey, Berhalter, Cherundolo, Hahnemann, Bocanegra, and others. So do you think everything works out with the league, the teams, and the players to get them here? And how will their arrival help the league (especially with all of those defense US internationals)?
IVES– I'm not sure we should be assuming there will be that sort of tidal wave of top talent. Given the economic situation in this country I'm not sure the league is ready to multiply its financial committment to salaries. There should be some stars, like an Henry and Shevchenko, but not a list like you provided.
As for Americans coming back home, I do wonder how the league will handle that because there will be a lot of defenders coming home and the league has a history of not paying defenders that well. Unless the salary cap is significantly larger I think you will see some of those Americans simply stay in Europe until the end of their careers because the money here just isn't good enough. Hopefully that's not the case.
DAVE– With Bobby Boswell's return to form this year, do you see any more USMNT call ups in his future? Since there's such a logjam of defenders in the center, would it be crazy-talk to try him out on the right or left side?
IVES– I can see Boswell getting a January camp call, but I don't see him being a player who sees time in important national team matches. He was good this year for Houston but his lack of speed will always be an issue on the international level. As for playing him at fullback, that would be a nightmare.
FRANKIE– I was wondering with all the Bid's for an MLS franchise and only 2 spots available has the MLS ever considered (in the future) eventually awarding a franchise to every GOOD bid and creating a 1st division and 2nd division with promotion and relegation? It seems that some USL teams have a good structure but haven't bid for an MLS franchise.
If all the bids go through that would bring the league to 23 teams if you add in Rochester, Charleston who have soccer specific stadiums already that would be 25 teams. Why not combine everything and play for promotion and relegation? Just a question I had thats all seems to make sense ( if the bids are GOOD and once they all get accepted ). Every top league in the world has promotion and relegation so why not MLS. Has the MLS ever thought or contemplated this? What are your thoughts, good or bad idea?
IVES– OWNERS WILL NOT GO FOR PROMOTION/RELEGATION!!!! Sorry Frankie, didn't mean to yell, but this question has been asked and answered repeatedly. Just because there are a lot of bids doesn't mean bidding cities will bid for the right to be in the USL. That's just not the case. Promotion and relegation isn't happening in this country any time soon. And the fact that "every top league in the world" has it means nothing to the unique situation that exists in the United States, where soccer is nowhere near king.
In fairness Frankie, here is a piece I wrote for ESPN.com more than two years ago that provides my explanation for why promotion/relegation won't happen.
BLUEWHITELION– How did you get started in journalism generally, and in NY (with the Red Bulls coverage, in particular?) Before you were an objective journalist, what soccer team and player were you passionate about? ;-)
IVES– I was a newspaper junkie from a young age, reading USA Today when I was still in elementary school, so there was always that interest in sports and reading about sports. That became a desire to write about sports, which I really got into once I was in college at Ramapo.
As for the Red Bulls, I started covering the MetroStars in 1999 for the Herald News and wrote for the Herald for 10 years.
I really didn't have any teams I followed before becoming a journalist because I wasn't a die-hard soccer fan before becoming a journalist. I watched international soccer, such as the Euros and World Cup, but hadn't really begun following club soccer yet. There are teams I like watching, like Manchester United and Barcelona, but I wouldn't say I'm a die-hard fan of either.
ADAM M.– Any chance RBNY (or someone else) has inquired about the availability of Brazilian striker Washington? He seems like a perfect fit for MLS. In his thirties, healthy, on a flagging Flu side, all-time single season goal scorer in Brazil's A division, some national team experience, back-to-back starter in recent FIFA Club Worlds for two different teams, done with Europe, and remains an absolute world class striker. MLS should be salavating over him, and one could easily imagine the marketing dream Washington would be for D.C. United. Washington is to the striker position what GBS is to playmaking, only Washington is better.
IVES– Adam, Washington is a great player and I'm sure he would do well in MLS, but there's no way he comes to MLS for anything less than DP money. He also just signed with Sao Paulo so there goes that one.
MARC SILVERSTEIN– I'm thinking about purchasing a team in the NPSL and placing it in Utica New York. What have you heard about the viability of the league as compared to the USL PDL division both in ownership and play on the pitch? Might be late, so I'll go not soccer.
IVES– Sorry Marc, I couldn't tell you a thing about the NPSL.
MIKE K– You said you liked the move "rounders" in the past eh? Do you play poker? Are you good?
IVES– I actually did used to play poker pretty regularly and got to a pretty decent level (2-5, 5-5 no-limit hold em). From 2004 to about 2006 I was playing a few times a week, both at casinos and poker rooms, but I just stopped having time for it. Nowadays I just don't have time to play and have only played a handful of times in the past year or so. It's safe to say that now my level of play is only a smidge above tourist.
BECKSTER– Ives, what do you think the solution is to killing the best MLS teams by rewarding them for their success with all the international tournaments and extra games. Clearly these teams aren't deep enought and the extra games create so much more fatigue and injuries.
IVES– I think limiting teams to one international competition is a wise move and is what will happen in 2009. Having a team like Houston play in three (Champions Cup, SuperLiga and Champions League) was a bit insane.
CHUCK– So let's say that Subotic does decide to play for the US. What happens to our backline? Gooch or Boca moved to the bench? Boca moved out left to make room for Neven in the center? Is he too good of a talent to leave on the bench?
IVES– Um, yeah, about that.
EASTLACHIVA– How low will Eddie Johnson's career dive before he realizes how limited he is as a player?
IVES– I think the better question is how low will his career dive before he turns things around. I am hearing positive things about his time at Cardiff, such as an improved work ethic and maturity, but that obviously has yet to be reflected in on-field results. I think he should stay in the League Championship after this year, but with a smaller club. I'm not ready to write him off because I think there is still some hope that he can live up to at least some of the promise he showed at such a young age.
JAY– So with all the dances that have been done as Red Bull goal celebrations, who is generally recognized on the team as being the best dancer? Just curious to see what the team thinks :)
IVES– As far as on-field dancing in goal celebrations, the pickings are pretty slim. I think Dave Van Den Bergh might get the nod, if only because I can't remember too many other goal dances throughout the year. As far as off-the-field dancing, I would put money on Dane Richards being considered the best dancer on the Red Bulls.
ETHAN– CONCACAF top 25?
IVES– Unicorns. (Things you will never see on SBI?).
In all seriousness Ethan, if you want to volunteer to do an SBI CONCACAF Top 25 you are more than welcome to give it a shot.
THOMAS– Please don't answer any more "your starting line up under the following circumstances"…but this one is slightly different: Who is the worst starting goal keeper in MLS and who is the best back up (not neccesarily on the same team)? What are the odds the worst starter will be warming a bench next year and the best backup will be playing regularily?
IVES– I would have to say that of goalkeepers who started the most games last season, Steve Cronin was the worst. It's safe to say he won't be starting in 2009. As far as best back-ups, Chris Seitz, Preston Burpo and Danny Cepero are on that list and I can see Burpo and Cepero starting in 2009. Chris Seitz is a great prospect but until he gets some actual MLS games it is tough to call him the best MLS back-up.
THOMAS– Just go ahead and rub it in our faces… As a soccer reporter what do you get to write off as a "buisness expense"? Every soccer channel? A beer at every game? Taking a player out for a beer at the local pub for an "interview"? Soccer video games? A big screen TV?
IVES– Are you with the IRS or something? Journalists can write off good amount of things as business expenses, while a business owner can write off even more. That said, I doubt I'll be writing off any beer this year.
CHRIS– Will the MLS ever go to a 20 team table and get rid of playoffs? If yes to either one then how soon?
IVES– No and No.
JOE– Since you're heading to LA, an entertainment question: The Office (US) v. The Office (UK) smackdown. David Brent or Michael Scott? Tim and Dawn or Jim and Pam? Garreth or Dwight? Rest of the UK cast or Rest of the US cast?
IVES– I must admit that I never got into the UK version of The Office. I happen to love The Office and consider it one of the best shows on TV, a lock in the SBI Best XI.
CA– Don Garber recently stated: "I think they have taken it to the next level in Miami and it is a compelling aspect to the whole concept." Beside the fact that one of the world's top clubs — FC Barcelona — wants to be a MLS investor, what have you been able to glean that is special about the Miami proposal and who is joining Miami as an expansion franchise in 2011?
IVES– Well, when you take a mega-rich owner and combine them with one of the world's biggest clubs, and they show a strong desire to commit to MLS, that is a tough ticket to turn down. Strong ownership can get things done and the Claure-Barcelona combo will have all the resources ncessary to make it work in Miami. Yes, securing a stadium is an issue, but I think MLS sees an ownership group that can handle the financial rigors of staying in MLS for the long haul.
MASTERSHAKE– How come there is so much hate toward NY lately? Are people just jealous?
IVES– People hating New York isn't exactly a new thing. I'm sure jealousy is the root of it for some, but there is something to be said for New York folks being a little full of themselves when it comes to talking about New York.
ROCKY– Have you heard anything regarding changes in the rule structure, especially when it comes to changing the cap? I ask you this because I can't imagine the likes of barcelona being interested in a franchise under the current conditions. If Miami were to play now they would struggle to gain support with their fans. tThe salary cap prevents teams from getting great players, which in returns gets fans. I have a feeling something has been said any insite?
IVES– Here's a question Rocky. Who were the great players on Toronto FC when that club first started? I ask because they managed to sell out BMO Field and continue to draw great crowds despite not having had superstar players. I think Toronto showed that there is more than one way to skin this cat and the big marquee draw isn't the only way.
That said, I'm sure Barcelona will bring in at least one star to be the squad's figurehead. if the Miami ownership group markets aggressively and intelligently, they can draw fans to see the new team play, superstar players or not.
Is it a gamble? Sure it is, but people trying to use the failure of the Miami Fusion as a measure of what a new Miami team might do are ignoring history. Comparing Fusion owner Ken Horowitz with the new Miami ownership group of Claure and Barcelona is like trying to compare a Bentley to a Hyundai. HorowiHaving the team in Miami instead of Ft. Lauderdale and having owners with the financial muscle to make sure the club is marketed well are big reasons why the new Miami club could succeed where the Miami Fusion couldn't.