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If you were starting to wonder when the rest of the most recent Q&A session would be done (and by most recent I mean New Year's Day), I can't say that I blame you. A busy start to the new year has pushed the Q&A to the back burner, but I haven't forgotten about it and here is proof.
Here are some more of your questions answered (I will look to knock the rest of these out while I am in Columbus so stay tuned for them. No, seriously):
RICHIE B– Do you like indoor soccer? I hate playing it, hate watching it, hate basically everything about it.
IVES– I have been to a few games and think it can be entertaining. I think it's good for kids to go to as well because of the close proximity to the field and the high scoring. I think it has its place.
RS– Do you foresee any changes/tweaks to the MLS playoff format for 2009 or will things stay the same for a couple of years until more teams are added? What changes could you see them making to the current format? (And no, I'm not asking about going to a single table format…that horse has been beaten rather severely for the time being)
IVES– I really don't see radical changes for some time. Having eight teams quality is a perfect number all the way up to
JOE K– hey ives, couple red bulls questions, thanks for taking your time to read all this nonsense: is it just me, or does kevin goldthwaite seem like one of the slowest players on the field every game? the way i see it, the red bulls never have enough depth in defense — is there a reason they focus on offensive positions?
IVES– Joe, I have to disagree with you on Goldthwaite. While I agree that he had a very rough year in 2007, I thought he enjoyed a strong 2008 and showed himself to be a very good left back with the tools to be a good central defender. His biggest weakness is defending on set pieces, and he was beaten a few times that way, but when we're talking about the run of play, Goldthwaite should be a strong central defense option for the Red Bulls.
DANIEL– Do you miss Eric Wynalda being in ESPN's commentating booth just as much as I do? I know that the man is a walking time bomb of insensitivity just waiting to explode, but I think he was a great commentator. Without Wynalda JP Dellacamera, Rob Stone, Julie Foudy, and the like seem to lack the gumption to tell the game like it is. Wynalda would let you know when someone was struggling, and he could capture the intensity of a USA/Mexico rivalry like no one's business. Do you think televised soccer lost something when it (justifiably) axed their "tough guy" personality?
IVES– Daniel, I must admit to watching most ESPN games with the sound off. It's just something I prefer to do when it comes to MLS games because it's easy to be swayed by announcers opinions. I do that with MLS and U.S. national team matches (at least on first viewing) since I cover them. I don't do it for European matches that much.
BUBBLEHOUSE– Will Jozy or Freddy ever end up on one of the BIG 4? If not any idea what american player might?
IVES– There is NO way to tell at this point where Jozy and Freddy will wind up. Let's see them start for a European First Division team first, then we can talk about "Big Four". As for when a player might, Tim Howard already did. As far as field players, it may not happen until the next generation of young stars develops, players like Charles Renken and Joseph Gyau.
PATRICK– here's my 2 completely unlrelated questions : Is red bull, as a corporation, happy with the status of the redbull within the NY/NJ market? I can't imagine a company that size would be content to virtually ignore a population the size of new york city. We've talked about the fact that their home market is the NJ suburbs and whatnot, but as a company attempting to make money it seems odd that they ignore it. I thought once they took over we'd see a revisit to the NYC fans. Do you think we could see another attempt with the new stadium coming, or have they completely given up on the market? 2) Nelson Becerra from SJU… MLS talent or flash in the pan? Thanks
IVES– Patrick, I'm not even going to begin to try and read the mind of a corporation, but I do think that the stadium is Red Bull's tool to try and tap into New York City. When Red Bull bought they team they splashed out big money to try and market in New York and the return on their money wasn't that much so I think they realized it would take more than pricey marketing campaigns to break into a New York market largely ignored by the MetroStars. Enter the stadium, which should provide the club with the necessary tool to attract fans from New York as well as New Jersey.
As for Becerra, I think he has MLS talent, and could be a nice attacking midfield option for the right team in 2010, assuming he signs with MLS.
BIOLOGICAL– I would like to let sponsers of MLS know that I make an effort to purchase their products simply because they sponsor MLS. With sponsorship money a little more scarce these days, I am hoping a few words will go a long way. Do you know of a site where I would easily be able to obtain emails to do this (or who to write to at MLS)? Have you checked out Mad Men on AMC? I think you said you were looking for something new to watch and it is pretty good. It took me a few episodes to get into to, but now I'm hooked. Thanks for your site and all your work!
IVES– Not sure how to help you with addresses for sponsor but they can't be too tough to find on the internet. As for Mad Men, I haven't watched it. My TV rotation is pretty stacked right now with Lost, Heroes, Life and Chuck back and DEA entering the mix.
FRIMP– Hey Ives, long time no post. Love the site. If this question is a repeat or whatever, my apologies please feel free to disregard. So looking at MLS and potential top foreign talent/DPs coming in…do you think MLS still gets enough bang for the buck with a big name as it did before, or would it be better in this phase of maturation for MLS teams only to bring in players based on contributions to the team completely regardless of name/stature/draw. That is, is it better to NOT have a DP and go with more "mid-level" players (ie RBNY may be doing in 09), or is it still really worth the hype of an aged star…?
IVES– Not sure how many truly big names have come into the league since Beckham and Blanco. Gallardo wasn't really THAT big a name (though his price tag certainly was). Claudio Lopez also wasn't a top tier marquee name but still an internationally known one. To be honest, I don't know how many teams used their DPs in 2008 on players where marketing and ticket sales hopes were a factor as much as their talent. Gallardo and Lopez were signed for their talent and potential to contribute on the field than for their off-field value.
The last line of your question is another question altogether, and one we've asked here recently. Is it better to have a DP, or use that money to bring in a handful of players. Having a DP take up 400K certainly makes other things tougher on an MLS team's modest salary budget, but I think in either case it boils down to a team's ability to find a player who can come in and play well in MLS. Whether that is your DP player or the two to three players you signed with that same money, you still need them to actually pan out.
STEAL YOUR SOUNDERS– Do you think it would be a reasonable to allow american national team regulars to come home as dp's without it counting against your cap or taking up your dp slot? I guess I'm asking should teams be allowed to have a 2nd dp of american decent
IVES– I don't know about letting that DP count for nothing against the cap, but I do like the idea of having slots that can be used to attract and play American players who have enjoyed long careers in Europe and who would otherwise be taking deep pay cuts to come to MLS. I'd say have an American DP slot where the player counts 200K to 250K against the cap. That would be a reasonable compromise.
BRANDON DONAHUE– Hey Ives, why do you think bob bradley never wears a suit, or even a nice dress shirt to the games? I think it would look classier than the team training gear, and maybe people might think he knew what he was doing if he were to dress up a little bit. You know dress for success. – Brandon
IVES– Here's a question for you Brandon. Who is the last national team manager to win a World Cup and wear a suit for a majority of the tournament? When you answer that for me then we'll talk about your suggestion of a "nice dress shirt". Is he hitting the club after? Okay, I kid, but seriously, what a coach wears is irrelevant.
INDIE FC– This regards the recent decision of Neven Subotic. All feelings aside, I'm wondering if there are any lessons to be learned here. About 4 months ago, an article ran on Neven, centered around his experiences with our youth sides. In the article, it was stated that Neven was always separate from the other players and, in fact, commented on his lack of feeling "integrated." If true (and I would like your impressions around this), do you feel that our program understands the importance of building camaraderie/friendship as much as skill? Your take?
IVES– Indie, having been around the Bradenton set up and seen first-hand the way things are there, I'm not sure Neven's feelings can be blamed on the program. If you ask most of the players to pass through the Under-17 residency program, the strongest friendships for many of them were formed there. Now, Subotic's situation was a bit unique in that he had a different background to most other players in the program, so it was probably a tougher adjustment, but to assume that Subotic's struggles to adjust were necessarily a flaw in the program is big assumption.
SEA OTTER– You may have covered this in another Q&A, so feel free to pass this Q over. But,….since Bradley gave Beasley a half at LB versus Cuba there've been many within the US soccer community who've believed he could be the answer there (not me). Assuming there's a ready replacement for him at LMid, how does he compare to our other options? And since you may skip my 1st Q, I'll ask a second. Who would make your MLS All Time – All Heart team? A team composed of players who didn't whine, didn't dive, but gutted out games whistle to whistle despite any pain or limitation. Happy New Year from a devoted SBI junkie.
IVES– 1. Damarcus Beasley could easily be the best left back in the pool, but he's still the best left winger and one of the best attacking options so there he must stay. As for your second question, it's a pretty vague and abstract concept. I like it and will try to tackle it before the start of the season.
GRAHAM– Ives – Happy New Year. My question is how on earth did Max Bretos get a job? He is garbage. What can we do (SBI community)to get him replaced by you? Ever thought about commentating?
IVES– Max is entertaining, I don't think anybody can take that away from him. Does he get carried away sometimes? Probably a lot more than most play-by-play commentators you'll find, but I think his fans like that about him.
STEVE– Happy New Year Ives, I was just reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers" (a must read) and he had a chapter which focused on how people become experts, or world class at something. The data he presented seemed to indicated that what separates the greatest people in a given field is the amount of time spent practicing. He said that once someone has done something for around 10,000 hours he/or she should be an "expert" in that field. Applying this to the soccer, I think the reason that the US has not produced a true world class player yet is that soccer is usually never a child's main focus in the US, like in other countries. This lack of constant practice might be what is holding us back as a soccer nation. I also think the data would seem to indicate the need for an academy based system, and a reserve system. Thoughts?
IVES– It's common sense that the more players you have focusing on soccer intensely at a younger age the better odds are of developing more talented players. I also agree that academy-based youth systems are the future and the best way to start producing more quality prospects.
JAMES– Thanks for the site Ives. This may have been covered already, but what cities do you see hosting the next round of WCQ games?
IVES– Now we know Columbus and Nashville will get two of the five Hexagonal games. I'd say that D.C., Chicago, Foxboro and Salt Lake City (Sandy) are the top candidates. I'd pick D.C., Chicago and Salt Lake City.
TODD– I am just curious as to why individual MLS teams are not able to negotiate independently with with companies that provide the jerseys and gear. Too many MLS teams jerseys are similiar. The only difference is the color pattern. I think each team should be able to have a jersey designed by Puma, Adidas, Nike, and etc. I feel like this would give teams even more of an identity. Your thoughts?
IVES– MLS and adidas have a contract that entitles adidas to handle all the league's jerseys. Would it be better for variety to have more companies involved? Certainly, but adidas definitely made it worth the league's while in their big contract. Maybe that is something that can change down the road as teams are allowed to establish their own identities a bit more.
MATT L– Which clubs/national teams have the best jerseys, at least your favorites? I liked Holland's for the 2008 Euros.
IVES– The form-fitting Roma jerseys in red are pretty sharp, as are the Ivory Coast orange ones. Croatia's checker print jerseys are timeless.
CARL– Ok 3 v 3 soccer tournament. Teams are Jimmy McNulty, Kima and Lt. Daniels, and Stringer Bell, Avon and Bodie. Who wins? I'd go with Baltimore PD and I think McNulty would carry them as a striker. He clearly would be a good player, and I think Kima would be nasty in the midfield and Daniels would D up. Stringer would be on D and he wouldn't be able to contain McNulty's speed. A better question might be is there a better TV show than The Wire?
IVES– I'd give the edge to the West Side boys. Why? They'd be way too fast for the BPD. Avon's a former boxer so you know he's fit. Bodie's used to running from cops so he's fast and then the actor who played Stringer Bell is British so you know he must have played the game at some level. Yes, the actor who played McNulty is English but Jimmy has never struck me as someone who can run much. Kima's quick and tough and Daniels has good size but I think they get schooled.
And no, there has never been a better TV show than The Wire.
TRENT– Ives, Great site, I love the Q&A but I rarely see anything about RSL so I thought I would throw these questions out at you, 1. Obviously RSL needs a more lethal finisher than they have if they want to go all the way, but other than that, what addition do you think they need to indeed go all the way? 2. Why doesn't Kyle Beckerman get called up for any MNT friendlies, he is obviously one of the better defensive midfielders in the MLS and lately with the US friendlies it has been very pro-mls, so why not give KB another chance? Thanks Ives
IVES– 1. RSL can use a reliable striker and a dangerous right winger or quality central midfielder to partner with Beckerman behind Morales, depending on which formation RSL uses this year. The defense is pretty sold with Wingert-Olave-Borchers-Beltran/Russell.
CHRIS– Re the 10,000 hours. I heard a player needs 1,000,000 touches to be at the professional level. When (relatively) older players like Johnson haven't had that many touches, is there hope that they will gain the skill later? Or does it only work if you're young?
IVES– I'm convinced that the younger you reach that high level of training the better it can impact your game. The whole "You can't teach old dog new tricks" thing probably applies here.
???- Who will be the surprise team of 2009? I like what KC is doing with all the experience their young players now have. Will they break out this year?
IVES– I do like KC to make some more noise in 2009. If Josh Wolff can lead the attack, rookie Graham Zusi develop into a real steal, Roger Espinoza blossom into a real young star and Chance Myers can rebound from his injury/illness-filled rookie season, the Wizards could be ready to test the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire.
BECKSTER– Happy New Year's Ives. I'd like to know your opinion of the top 10 (most interesting or important) American moves in the January transfer window. Who and where – although by the time the answer gets posted, we may have the answers!
IVES– Hey Beckster. I'm not sure there were that many total moves. Here are some:
Landon Donovan loan to Bayern Munich
Jozy Altidore loan to Xerez
Bobby Convey to San Jose
Marcus Tracy to Aalborg
Mike Grella to Leeds
I'm probably forgetting some moves, but those five come to mind.
JERRY– Do you think Honduras has a shot to clinch one of the 3 spots for Automatic WC qualification ? also do you know where the US vs Honduras game will be played here in the States?
IVES– Absolutely. Honduras has to be considered the favorite to clinch the third spot alongside the U.S. team and Mexico. David Suazo and Wilson Palacios lead a strong squad that is capable of grabbing a top two spot, let alone a top three, if either of the CONCACAF powers falter. I know Honduras has choked in the past with talented teams but this squad has the experience and the talent to book a place in 2010 South Africa.
As for the USA-Honduras home qualifier, my guess would Chicago.
BECKSTER– Ives -also, if you were Dave Kasper and could make 3 trades for DC – what would they be?
IVES– If I were Dave Kasper I would be shopping at Centerbacks R' Us. Not many MLS teams have a surplus there so finding a useful MLS trade would be tough. I would probably call up Gregg Berhalter and see what he would want to come to the United States. I would ask the Crew about Andy Iro but would probably get laughed at.
What do you think of these answers? Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.