SBI Live Q&A

Your Questions Answered (Part 4 of 4)

Bob Bradley (AP)

The newest Q&A is up and taking questions, but there was still the matter of the last batch of unanswered questions from the June Q&A. They're finally done and ready to go.

There were plenty of national team questions, including a few about U.S. coach Bob Bradley. There were also questions about journalists, Kenny Cooper and world soccer regions.

Here they are, the last of your June questions answered:


LOST IN THE LAND OF LAKES-With several MLS teams unhappy with their recent performance, it seems there are a few coaches who's seats are getting hotter (NYRB, RSL, etc.) I was trying to think of coaches that were looking for jobs and I couldn't think of any off the top of my head. Do you think organizations look inside for replacements? Which coaches are going to go and when?

IVES- Coaches who might be looking for jobs? Octavio Zambrano, Colin Clark, Thomas Rongen, Martin Vasquez and yes, Juergen Klinsmann are all looking for work (though I don’t think an MLS team is meeting Klinsmann’s wage demands). As for coaches in trouble? Juan Carlos Osorio is the obvious choice. Not sure if anyone else fits the bill of ‘in jeopardy”. Frank Yallop and Schellas Hyndman have the next worst records but they’re both safe.


MADMAX- Two parts
Why do so many US players have a bad first touch, "yarder"?
I think there is a lack of creativity on free kicks, world wide. Why do you think so few free kicks result in shots on goal?

IVES-  I think a lack of time training and playing with the ball from an early age, we’re talking total hours of time spent with the ball, can be a factor in the lack of players with very soft touch on the ball. I agree with the folks who believe that American youth players could benefit from playing FUTSAL (yes, I'll blame my "Foosball" gaffe on being on vacation). I think that could help players not only develop better touch, but also better passing skills and vision.


JT- Is it too early to forecast how the USMNT will do in 2010, assuming they qualify of course? If not, how do you think they finish? Is the Costa Rica performance reason to worry?

IVES-  It’s impossible to kn ow how the U.S. team will do because there are too many variables. Strength of the group, order of opponents, team health, having top players heathy. That said, I think the U.S. team showed in the Confederations Cup that it has the players to advance out of a tough group and make some noise in the knockout rounds. I think it’s fair to say that anything less than a second round appearance would be very disappointing. I do think the U.S. team is capable of doing something it hasn’t done before, win two group stage matches.


PICO- Are ESPN Soccernet and ESPN Deportes under the same umbrella? During the last CL final, I watched the game and replay in each of the channels and the Deportes guys were clearly cheering for Barcelona, in contrast to the ESPN guys.

As per the posts about how bad American football commentators are, why doesn't ESPN borrow guys like Fernando Palomo (he is bilingual) to do the analysis or broadcasts.

IVES- Media in the USA and media in Latin America tend to have differing philosophies when it comes to covering national teams and clubs, basically all professional sports. Not to paint everyone with the broad brush but you do often find journalists from Latin America who cheer at games and celebrate when the teams they cover score. In fact, at the recent Gold Cup final there were Mexican journalists cheering loudly after the goals, which led to an announcement that there was no cheering allowed in the press box. Some of those journalists were very upset about that announcement.

I think most American journalists don’t cheer for or root for the teams they cover because we’re trained as journalists that you need to try and be impartial. Obviously some folks, including plenty of bloggers disagree with that, but to each their own. I find it much easier to be objective and to view things clearly when I’m not emotionally invested. The Gold Cup final is a good example. If you’re a journalist and a fan I’m not sure how you can objectively break down that game without letting your own emotions dictate your analysis.


MASHED POTATO- How does player compensation work for the USMNT?

IVES- I don’t know what totals are but players are given money for being called in, for playing, for starting and bonuses for results as well. It would be interesting to see what U.S. players in comparison with other national teams. One thing I do know is that the members of the Confederations Cup team made a relative killing in terms of coming away with big bonus money.


TIDDLY WINKS- What will occur first:

1. The winner of SA 2010 is decided
2. Ives finishes answering 150+ questions

I guess half of them are technically the same question about Jermaine Johnson though.

Surprisingly few about Freddy and Jozy however.

IVES- It took me a while, but I made it with 11 months to spare. Whew.


JOHN CONNOR- Who is the best retired American international that would NOT be able to make the current team?

IVES- If I understand this correctly, you’re asking what best former U.S. players wouldn’t start today. If that’s your question, I would have to wonder if central defenders such as Eddie Pope, Alexi Lalas and Marcelo Balboa would start ahead of Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra. I also think an argument can be made that Tim Howard is playing at a level right now that is higher than even the best levels of national team legends Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.


GABE- Realistically, where do you see MLS (in terms of viability and quality of play) and the USMNT (in terms of competitiveness) in 10 years?

IVES- I think MLS will still be operating and doing well in ten years. Whether the quality of play will see major improvements depends on whether the league actually opens up the purse strings and allows teams to spend more money on players.


KING JULES- Yo, Ives 1)Do you think that good American coaches not developing yet is maybe the reason why the U.S. hasn't made the transition of being consistant in the internatioanl game? Because we obviously have the players to contend but it seems like some coaches(namely Bob Bradley) are stuck on old ways or are scared of making sacrifices. It seems like he's just throws all the good players in the line-up and he hopes they have some kind of chemistry, its nonsense.

2) What happen to using wingers in the Men's team? One of the reasons why we had a successful run in 2002 was because the wing play on the flanks were phenomonal. Players like Cobi Jones, DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan, Eddie Lewis and Earnie Stewart were brilliant. Now it seems like players like that have been ignored a little more(Holden and Rogers) or have been forced to play another position(Beasley abd Adu).

IVES- If that’s what you think of Bradley’s approach to coaching the national team then we’ll agree to disagree. I do think that American coaches aren’t given enough credit or opportunities to develop and I think that for Bradley, the opportunity to coach the national team and be involved in the games he’s been involved in, has been invaluable experience for him as well as assistant coaches Mike Sorber and John Hackworth.

2. Jules, I think you’re way off with this theory. The real question is “What has happened to the good wingers?” Blaming the national team for the lack of quality wingers is like blaming the supermarket for the quality of the oranges being produced in Florida. Rogers and Holden were not ignored, they were just young and not ready. We saw this pretty clearly in the Gold Cup.

As for the current state of U.S. wingers, the depth isn’t where you’d like it, but Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey is sure looking like an effective wing tandem. Would it be nice if DaMarcus Beasley was playing like 2002-2005 Beasley? Of course, but he isn’t. Would it be nice if a natural right winger had emerged by now? Yes, but it hasn’t happened.

Something else to consider is the fact that right now there aren’t McBride-like target strikers who could benefit greatly from dangerous natural wingers. No, having quality service is never a bad thing, but given the current forward options I’m not sure if having non-traditional wing midfielders is such a bad thing right now.


SEAMUS- While I think the idea some American fans have about a bias against American players is absurd (teams have too much pressure to win to ignore a player's talent in this way), do you think that there is possibly a bias against American coaches?

I am just curious why you don't hear ANYTHING about American coaching abroad. It seems like coaching would be a lot more subjective of an area where a stereotype about 'poor American tactics' or something might occur. Or other possibilities would be that American coaches don't have the desire to go abroad, or there are some but its not publicized.

Obviously we have players abroad, and you even hear about front office people abroad (Ivan gazadis & such), so I was curious about your take on the situation, and sorry for the lengthy question.

IVES- I wouldn’t completely rule out the notion of a bias against American players, only I wouldn’t call it a bias. I would say that American players have less of a proven track record as players from other countries, so teams looking for foreign players are more likely to look elsewhere if deciding between an American and non-American of similar qualities. No, not all clubs are that way, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there is a small group of European clubs that have signed multiple American players (like Fulham, Everton, Hannover, AGF Aarhus, 1860 Munich).


BRIAN- 1. Who do you think is currently the best national team manager in the world? Hiddink is an obvious choice, but what about Capello, Loew, or Lippi?

2. And on a somewhat related note, let's say that Klinsmann was appointed as US manager instead of Bradley a few years back…where do you see the US team now if he was in charge?

IVES- Hiddink, for me, is the best manager in the world. Capello is second. I’m not sure if Lippi could duplicate his success just anywhere.


METRO GIRL- Will the Redbulls be playing a European team this year? Perhaps Real Madrid while they're touring?

IVES- No European opponent this year. Red Bull wasn’t about to spend the money this year. That said, you can rest assured there’ll be a big European opponent for next summer in Red Bull Park.


SETH- I believe it would greatly benefit the US team for WC 2010 if Donovan were playing regularly in a top league for the 2009-2010 season. I understood him coming back from Leverkeusen before WC 2006 from the point of view that getting the best experience possible in the year leading up to the World Cup is critical, and playing in MLS beats not playing in the German league.

I know you have said he is unlikely to move this summer because it's not worth it to MLS. 2 questions: do you agree that it's critical to the national team to get our possibly best player the best experience possible in the year leading up to the world cup? and what do you see as the resolution to this MLS-National Team conflict? MLS seems to win, but is that really the right answer for American soccer?

IVES- Seth, I have written repeatedly that Donovan needs to go to Europe. I wrote it when he left for Europe the last time, I wrote it when he came back. I wrote it after the 2006 World Cup. What has changed in that time? Donovan realizes it too and wants to go. The only problem is his contract, which gives MLS/AEG basically most of the power in determining if and when he goes.


MARK- 2 players you can use as eligible U.S. converts are:
Boaz Myhill (Hull) – Welsh international with 5 friendly international caps
Simon Poulsen (AZ Alkmaar) – Danish international with 3 friendly international caps
I doubt either would change allegiances, althought Myhill is Wales' #2 GK behind Wayne Hennessey.

My question:
Do you have any ideas of what the MLS Players Union will fight for (besides the general "more money") in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement?

IVES- I would imagine things like improved retirement benefits, better contract standards (more guaranteed money) and better profit sharing percentages for things such as licensing and international competition revenue, but I do think salaries will remain the key issue.


DOUG- what exactly is it about Kenny Cooper's game that Bradley dislikes so much? certainly he is more deserving of a call up than Connor Casey.

IVES- Cooper doesn’t play the team game very well, as in being able to pass to, and work with teammates. His defensive effort remains an issue and he is still woeful in the air. I think that last point is what led to Conor Casey getting the call over him for Confederations Cup. The national team needed a target striker on the roster and Casey fit that bill. That said, Cooper has the potential to be a quality national team striker and hopefully the move to 1860 Munich helps him continue to grow.


TIM CRAWFORD- What are the odds we're playing single table next year with 2 matches against each team (30 total)? It seems like it only makes sense next season. Also, how would you currently rate the rookies for this year according to POTENTIAL impact? I've been sooooo impressed with the little I've seen of Yohance Marshall; I'm just wondering when the Gals will give him a chance.

IVES- I can’t help but wonder that myself. It makes  too much sense. So what’s the drawback? A reduction in the number of rivalry games. Fewer plays of series such as LA-Chivas USA, Houston-Texas, DC-Chicago, etc. In the end I think it will be inevitable that, at the very least the schedule will look like a single-table, play everyone twice, format.


TEDDO 1- Is CONCACAF really the weakest region? (besides Oceania).

I happen to think the AFC isn't any better and personally I think a USA, Mexico or Costa Rica could take out Australia, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

(I do think Australia is a bit underrated, but still…)

Love the site.

IVES- I think Australia joining Asia makes it much closer, but I still would give the slight edge to CONCACAF.


What did you think of these answers? Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.

  • Ethan

    Ives, do you mean that Americans can benefit from foosball? Or do you mean futsal?

    I imagine you mean futsal.

    (SBI- Yes Ethan, I meant Futsal. I’ll blame it on being on vacation.)


  • George

    For a second there I thought Ives was making a joke about Foosball. It through me off seriously.


  • zenabi

    I’m not sure if anyone remembers the short USMNT strike in the beginning of the 2006 cycle (where Arena had to use college players). I recall that the terms of the agreement were quite generous relative to MLS salaries. Obviously, a Howard or Dempsey makes enough that the USMNT cash is just a nice little bonus, but I would wager that for the MLS guys a good run with the ‘Nats could easily double their salary. I also recall that the 2002 team each received $298,000 for their WC, which was way more than most made in MLS. I also remember that the Bruce got around $500k.

    Ives, I think this would be a very interesting column subject for you, as it adds more drama to the call-ups.


  • Brian

    Umm how is Simon Poulsen American? He’s part black, but I doubt his Dad was an African-American soldier stationed in Denmark due to the super Danish last name.


  • George


    I gotta disagree with you about Eddie Pope. Hands down, Eddie Pope in his prime is better than Gooch. In the air I think they’re on the same level, with a slight edge to Pope because he had a slender build than Gooch has.

    Pope was better with his feet than Gooch is, Pope would never get caught out casing midfielder’s 40 yards from goal a la Gooch in Costa Rica. Lastly, Pope was a leader, even though he had a quiet demeanor he was respected on his teams.

    Gooch has made a move to a storied club, but let’s not get carried away and take 3 good performances at the confederations cup and call Gooch the American Beckenbauer (which you are not doing I know ;-). He has work to do and I hope his time in Italy will pay off for him and the US’s sake.


  • Ives

    George, I figured I would hear some disagreements about Pope and the current centerbacks, and I don’t disagree that it’s definitely a good debate.

    What I will say is that you’re being seriously unfair to Onyewu if you’re going to boil his career down to just the Confederations Cup. That’s pretty ridiculous. The guy was a defensive leader in helping Standard Liege win two Belgian League titles and if we’re going to talk about individual performances Onyewu shut down Fernando Torres when Liege battled Liverpool in Champions League qualifying. Onyewu was also great vs. Italy in the 2006 World Cup, and helped contain Spain’s forwards in last year’s friendly loss.

    Pope was great, don’t get me wrong, but when we talk about the competition Pope faced, how can you seriously judge and try to compare the two? Onyewu has faced much, much tougher competition, both on club and definitely national team level over the past four years than Pope ever did.

    It’s certainly a debate, one which I’ll said in favor of the current centerbacks.


  • Pico

    I think Pope was one of those good players that had a great upside, but somehow never realized it. His career would have probably benefited from a mover overseas but for some reason (maybe the team’s overall performance in the last world cup) hurt his chances. In the end he ended up in MLS where it is hard to measure his real value.



  • LittleRockAnt

    I think Balboa and Pope would start over Gooch and Boca with ease. Pope and Balboa were very classy players.


  • Brent McD.

    I would like to know Coach Bob Bradley’s training regimen. For a 51 year-old man, the guy is clearly fit — looks like he could lace up some boots and play 90 minutes himself!


  • milkshake of despair

    I remember the collective bargaining agreement back in late 2005 as well. The bonus incentives were published on the internet at the time, but am coming up empty with searches now. I remember they get multiple bonuses for being called into camp, making the roster, starting, coming on as a sub and scoring. The bonuses escalated the farther they go in tournaments. AND, they get bonuses for their FIFA ranking. Wish I could find the document now….

    That’s why I am always cynical when players get put in during injury time (paycheck). And wonder if it also is why only 23 players are called into camps vs say maybe 40. (USSF saving money)


  • Frank Borghi

    I attribute the lack of 1st touch to too much coaching and not enough independent play in which young players can experiment. American kids would benefit in many ways from going to the local park and playing pick-up games without coaches.


  • milkshake of despair

    Why no love for Friedel, Guzan and Lichaj in the Peace Cup??? Lichaj has been starting at right fullback and holding his own!


  • Brian Kenny

    “I would have to wonder if central defenders such as Eddie Pope, Alexi Lalas and Marcelo Balboa would start ahead of Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra. I also think an argument can be made that Tim Howard is playing at a level right now that is higher than even the best levels of national team legends Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.”


    I have to respectfully disagree with your comment(s) above. IMHO, Eddie Pope was the best defender the USA has ever produced and I would pick him ahead of Gooch and Los seven days a week.

    Picking Tim howard ahead of Friedel and Keller is a tough call as well. I watched Keller stonewall Brazil and win matches on his own when he was with Leicester City. Friedel’s EPL record speaks for itself as does his WC 2002 performance.

    The answer to this question is a no-brainer,….JEFF AGOOS!! Can you imagine what his goals against average in KORea would have been if Arena had picked any other national pool defender in place of Jeff Agoos? Would Agoos even be in the USMNT pool today?

    I would also think that Joe-Max Moore would have a hard time cracking the line-up.


  • George


    Touche (kudos if you will) on your point about Gooch’s club experience trumping Pope’s MLS career. Hands down Gooch wins in that category, but the debate is about performance on the National team level.

    Pope was a stalwart in defense during his time with the National team and helped build the current US stature as a powerhouse in CONCACAF (for all its worth). Pope was a starter on the US 1998,2002,and 2006 sides, not to mention his role in helping the US qualify for all three world cups.

    Like you said Gooch played well in 2006 against Italy and like I said he had 3 great games in South Africa, but to say his national team career thus far trumps everything Pope did in 10 years is wrong.

    You must consider the fact that the only legit tournament Gooch played in that Pope didn’t was the Confederations Cup and I really only think he shined in 3 matches in that tournament. Also, I refuse to give credence to “meaningful” friendlies where nothing is on the line.

    I think the odds are that Gooch will become a better player on the national team than Pope, but at this stage I still give Pope the edge. Let’s talk after Gooch leads us to qualify for 2010 and then get’s us out of the 1st round in South Africa, hopefully we don’t draw a group of death, but if Gooch is the truth it shouldn’t matter.

    I love this blog, it’s the best on the web hand’s down.


  • George

    Also, I criticize MLS at times, but I was 12 years old when Eddie Pope scored the winning header at MLS CUP #1 and that meant a lot to me. Pope played in this league for all it’s worth and he deserves some credit for that too, we must build our soccer culture if we are ever going to win the world cup.

    Gooch wearing an AC Milan jersey will also mean something to the kids growing up today and I thank Gooch for that also.


  • tom v

    ives. a new question for you.

    do you honestly think bob bradley is tactically capable to hold his own at the international level?

    i’ll use only the US’s most recent performances to make my case, but i think the argument holds.

    1- formation. BB only switched to the 4-4-2, that i think most people would say worked well for us, after we were all but eliminated from the confed cup and im sure BB was just thinking what have we got to lose? before that, we had always been playing a 4-5-1, donovan serving as a 5th midfielder, not a forward.

    2- players. all the “revelations” personnel wise from the confed cup were changes BB was forced to made.
    – davies – it took ching injured, a poor performances by casey, donovan needed in the midfield, and the US no scoring for multiple games for him to get a start – weird considering he was by far the most “in form” striker we had.
    – demerit – it only took boca and califf being injured for him to get a look. i guess we can also count an orozco red card in there as also contributing to demerit moving up the pecking order.
    – spector – this is the most ridiculous. a well respected player at a top EPL team could only play for us after dolo and hejduk were injured and wynne failed horribly.
    – feilhaber. while not really a revelation, still had a strong showing, and never would have played with edu healthy or rico card free.
    …and i’m also in no way convinced jozy would have started if ching was fit. most likely he would have come in against egypt when everyone thought we were done, and davies would have stayed on the bench.

    2 – subsitutions. i don’t think ineed to expand on this. see the brazil game for some very late and very poor subs.

    im in the process of rewatching the confed cup for the third time. and especially in the first half of the spain game, the US looks world class, however we were lucky to get by spain, they definitely had the majority of chances. my point is that i dont want a coach to stumble upon a good lineup. and especially with respect to the subs and formation ive listed above, none of those changes were crazy or outlandish. davies is in form, demerit has tons of experience, and spector is young experienced and well respected…and the idea of playing 2 true forwards is nothing new to most of the world…

    thoughts? i think bob is a good coach, but not tactically able to keep up internationally. would be better served as an assistant.


  • Annen_Berg

    In Yakima, Washington where I live, I drive by schools and parks everyday that are filled with mainly Mexican kids playing pickup games, dribbling the ball, passing, doing keepy-uppies, etc… That’s how you develop first touch over the years. The ball needs to be an extension of your foot while growing up. You need to love the ball, and always want to caress it with your feet and constantly kick it around in all kinds of different scenarios (playful, competitive, cooperative, solo, etc…). Footballing nations with great technique have this aspect to their culture. It’s just like playing an instrument. To be a great guitarist, don’t just take guitar lessons. Sleep with your guitar, keep it on your lap, hug it, give it a name. Over time, it becomes part of you.


  • TR

    Good post, Brian Kenny, I was thinking the same thing. Lalas wouldn’t make it. Agoos? No. Keller and Friedel had incredible moments over long periods of time, so it is too early to choose Howard.

    I feel bad about Joe-Max Moore, but he’d be struggling now. He was a great utility player with a big heart on the field. If he made it now, it would be because he could play a variety of positions and has that Frankie H attitude.

    Pope was phenomenal. The guy shouldn’t be criticized for turning down Europe (he did, folks) to grow MLS.


  • ga-gone

    Foosball is a vital training element… it shows you how to get your defensive line to think and move as one.


  • Tom P

    I still think Pope at the 02 WC was the highest level central defender we ever had. Imagine how many more goals Agoos would have let in without him. And remember how good he was when Sanneh was finally inserted.

    Christ- Arena loved Agoos to a fault.


  • r.benjamin

    Tom v. I think your comment is dead on. The best revelations have forced or by accident. You can add beasely at left back to this. How is bradley not figuring this out from training and watching club gametape.

    it is a fun topic to pick players one off and compare. Add wynalda into the mix right now and what happens. How bout Bradley jones Reyna fighting it out.

    Hands down the best soccer blog out there


  • Paul


    It’s way off-topic, and I apologize in advance for posting it on other threads if I still need an answer, but I have a problem. I’m going to be in Cape May, New Jersey on August 12. Does anyone know of any bar, etc. that might be a good place to watch the Mexico-U.S. match? Thanks.


  • hc


    Regarding coaching opportunities for Americans:

    Has the USSF ever considered giving a more in depth coaching course that would last a whole year or a professional season? As I understand it, the KNVB requires its candidates for coaching licenses to follow a lower level professional team or top amateur team for a year by participating hands on. I would imagine England would have similar requirements in their academy systems.

    Though time restraints might rule out some candidates, a structured course financed by the USSF involving USL teams seems like a natural fit.

    Just wondering.


  • jimmygreaves


    I have to think that Friedel and Pope at their best are the equal if not better than what we have seen so far from Howard and Gooch. Of course, the younger guys both have time to change that don’t they? I loved Balboa on set pieces but I always thought Lalas was more like a bull in a China shop. Still, they both had more skill than they were given credit for.


  • TJ

    I’d have a tough time choosing Friedel, Keller and Howard. I think that probably Brad and Tim and then Kasey.


  • Jimmygreaves


    I forgot to mention Howard still has to beat Keller’s best. But of course he has time to do that doesn’t he? Goalkeepers can be very hard to evaluate because the best ones make everything look routine. Usually a lesser keeper will have to make a spectacular save because he orignally misjudged the situation. The better keeper in the same situation, will anticipate better and then make a more routine looking save. I also think that Friedel was the best distributor of the three. But so much depends on the teams you are on. Howard and Friedel benefited from stable situations for most of their time, while Keller moved around a lot. So for me, right now, it’s Friedel, Keller, Howard.


  • elmatador

    I’ve developed my passing and vision quite well thanks to FIFA 09′ hehe…


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