Your September Questions Answered (Part 3)

Your September Questions Answered (Part 3)

SBI Live Q&A

Your September Questions Answered (Part 3)

Chris Rolfe (ISIphotos.com) 

                                    Photo by ISIphotos.com

Chris Rolfe and Jermaine Jones have never met (that we know of), but they're both key figures in the latest installment of Your Questions Answered.

Rolfe is set to leave the Chicago Fire after the season as a free agent, a move that has plenty of readers asking what went wrong, while Jones' potential arrival to the U.S. national team has USMNT fans anxious to know how he will fit in and when he will arive.

Rolfe and Jones are just a few of the subjects covered in this installment. Other subjects include MLS stadiums, Bob Bradley and Woodstock (don't ask).

Now, onto more of Your Questions Answered: 

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JOSH– Ives, based upon your experience and knowledge, which soccer stadiums are known for being the best in the MLS, top five please?(knowing that Red Bull's will be the crown jewel once completed)

IVES– Here are, for my money, the Top Five stadiums in MLS, taking into account look, location and amenities (not including Red Bull Arena, which will be No. 1 when it opens):

1. Rio Tinto Stadium

2. Home Depot Center

3. BMO Field

4. Pizza Hut Park

5. Toyota Park

Obviously this is only soccer-specific stadiums. If we go with all stadiums, I’d say Qwest Field is probably second or third.

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IAN-Ives, what will be the results of the two remaining US qualifiers (not just winners, give us scores too)?

IVES– I’ll go with Honduras 2, USA 1; USA 2, Costa Rica 0.

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DCD33– Arshavin and Robinho weigh around 140 pounds each, roughly. Would a player that small ever have a chance to develop in a US youth system?

IVES– I think the reasoning behind your question is stuck in stereotypes of a U.S. youth system that has progressed quiet a bit in the past five to ten years. A decade or more ago I might agree with you, but I think this country’s youth soccer system has improved and there are more and more standout prospects of smaller stature as American soccer moves away from over-emphasizing size and strength and increases the emphasis on skill. Players such as Marlon Duran and Michael Stephens are coming up the ranks as smaller players holding their own in the U.S. youth ranks, while new FC Dallas signing and Mexico U.S. Under-17 national team player Bryan Leyva has managed to evolve as a player in the U.S. youth soccer system despite also being small.

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STEVEN Q. URKEL– What will it take for Jeremiah White to get a look with the Nats, beyond the usual pity call-up in January?

IVES– Good question. Considering the dearth of true wingers I have a feeling we will see White in the January camp, which wouldn’t be a pity call-up, but rather a real chance for him to show that he can contribute to the U.S. team. He had a look in 2008 and there must be a reason he didn’t keep getting them.

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ERIC GRIESHEIMER– Ives, When do you think the USMNT will be able to get Jermaine Jones, Castillo in camp/on the feild? When will they be able to tinker with the line up, give Holden, Torres significant playing time?

It looks to me like the Honduras and Costa Rica games will be too important to insert any new players into the line up, even a player of Jones or Castillos quality. Are there Friendlies or other games leading up to the World Cup where Bradley could fine tune his line up?

IVES– Jones doesn’t look likely to be called in this year as he deals with an injury, while Castillo looks more likely to get a call next month. There will be an international fixture date in November where a friendly could be held (assuming the U.S. doesn’t finish in fourth place and has to play a South American team in a World Cup play-in series). I’m sure we’ll get to see some new faces then.

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MIGHTY– Ives, Thanks for the great work!!

What type of impact is Edgar Castillo going to have in out national team?

IVES– It’s tough to say really. He’s got talent, and is a good attacking left back prospect, but the assumptions that he’s going to step in and be Roberto Carlos need to tempered. He has enjoyed success in Mexico, but he’s also had his issues, as evidenced by his unsuccessful stint with Club America. If he can get some national team looks and show that he’s more than a quick attacker with weak defensive skills then he’ll be able to work his way into the shallow left back depth chart, but he needs to do it first, something some U.S. fans are forgetting.

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DOMINICK– Ives, now that Luis has moved on to covering the late-night beat, does this mean you will not get a chance to avenge the FIFA 08 beatdown he applied to you earlier this year?

BTW, love the site.

IVES– Okay, it was 2-0 and I hadn’t played FIFA since 2004. I don’t think I’ll get a rematch now that Luis is busy living the good life as a nightlife writer, partying with rappers and porn stars. He’s come a long way from a kid who spent a month in Germany during the World Cup and never hit the clubs once.

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K– Do you think Freddie Ljunberg will go on loan to Arsenal and do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think this will this be an issue like with Beckham and will this be a trend for all DP's wanting to play the offseason or a way to promote more to come to MLS?

IVES– I doubt Ljungberg goes on loan to Arsenal, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing as long as he came back in time for the start of the 2010 season. It would become an issue if he were going to miss games for Seattle. That said, I’m not so sure he fits in with the current Arsenal squad.

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DA BULL– What's your take on the situation going on in Chicago? Soumare leaves for France after fighting Denis at halftime. Rolfe is leaving for Denmark and said the Fire's contract negotiations were a joke and didn't like the way he was treated. Yet they pay Mapp $220k a year. What gives?

IVES– The situations are all different. The Soumare altercation with Hamlett probably was a product, to some degree, of frustration by Soumare over his transfer situation. Did it help the transfer be completed? It might have helped it along, but I have a feeling the deal happens whether or not Soumare and Hamlett scuffle.

As for Rolfe’s talks with the Fire, it’s clear the Fire didn’t rate him as highly as Rolfe felt he deserved to be rated. They offered Rolfe more than they wound up paying Mapp, 250K per season as opposed to the 220K per season Mapp was signed for. Obviously now, given the way Mapp has fallen off, his re-signing is looking like a flop while letting Rolfe go for free i
s also looking like a bad move.

Who’s fault is all this? The easy answer is technical director Frank Klopas and Hamlett, but I’ve been hearing for some time now that the team’s managing director, Javier Leon, has been the de facto leader of the Fire front office.

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WALLY– Ives, I never heard any upshot from the second Jozy goal that was disallowed in the El Salvador home qualifier. There was speculation that the call may have been that Jozy was offsides or that Dempsey “fouled” the defender who challenged him when he made the pass to Jozy. Either scenario is completely absurd, but what is stranger is that there has been no clarification about the nature of the call, and no protest or media scrutiny with respect to the insanity of that call. Have you learned anything to enlighten us?

IVES– I haven’t heard anything definitive and after speaking with some people I’d say it’s safe to say we never will. The more likely explanation is that the referee called Dempsey for a foul for sliding in on the eventual pass to Altidore for the goal. If so, it’s an awful call, but the only call that comes close to making sense based on the sequence.

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DAVE– Ives what teams do you feel are the top 5 in the world? Club and international.

IVES– Top Five club teams right now:

FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Inter Milan

Top Five national teams right now:

Brazil, Spain, England, Netherlands, Italy

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SBI FAN– Does John Harkes hate Clint Dempsey? He's always very harsh on Clint when he's commenting one of his games. Is the criticism warranted, or does he single Clint out?

IVES– I’ve heard the criticisms and the truth is that Harkes is always talking about plays that are worthy of criticism, but the fact that he dwells on so many Dempsey plays it winds up sounding like he’s being extra hard on Dempsey. The reality is that Dempsey has had some games where he made several mistakes/bad plays, so if in those games you rip him for those mistakes, it will sound like he’s being singled out.

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DAVID– How do you think the Red Bulls roster will change between the end of this year and the beginning of next year? Will they have a second DP? any ideas on who it will be? Lastly if Williams doesn't get the job with the Red Bulls, after 2 successful interim spells, is he at the top of every other teams wish list for a new coach?

IVES– You have to expect wholesale changes in New York, with half the roster lucky to come back. The Red Bulls will have two first-round draft picks, the No. 2 spot in the MLS allocation order, allocation money for missing the playoffs and a Designated Player slot the team is expected to use. That’s more than enough to make major changes.

Who will the DP be? I have no idea and I don’t think we’ll have a clue until we see who is hired as the team’s general manager.

As for Richie Williams, he deserves a shot at the job, but if he’s not hired for 2010, I can definitely seeing him being a leading candidate for a head job somewhere else.

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JOSH– Do you see Bob Bradley continuing on after WC 2010 or will he step down in order for Gulati to bring in a big name (Guus Hiddink, for example)?

IVES– I think Bradley moves on regardless of what happens in the 2010 World Cup. If the team has a great run, I see him parlaying that into a shot at a job in Europe. If the team has a bad run, he will be replaced.

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DAVID– Who do you see as the powerhouses in MLS next year? With Chicago potentially losing Conde, Rolfe, McBRide, and Blanco. LA potentially losing Donovan and Beckham for part of the year again. Lastly Houston potentially losing Clark and Holden. Who comes out on top next year? Seattle? Columbus?

IVES– It’s way too early to tell who will be powers in 2010 but I’d say Columbus will be there regardless of what happens. Yes, Schelotto could retire, but the Crew showed it can win without him. Who else will be there? If Blanco comes back next season then the Fire is still a power (and no, he’s not definitely back, if he were definitely back in 2010 a contract would have been signed by now). Houston could lose Holden and Clark, but I’d put good money on Dom Kinnear re-loading the roster. One team that COULD be a force in 2010 is the Red Bulls, that’s if the team hires the right head coach and GM to take advantage of all the mechanisms the club will have to bolster the roster.

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BINGERS AT NOON– I heard through a reputable source that you are the mystery baby born at Woodstock. Care to confirm or deny?

IVES– Come on now? You think I’m 40? I’m old, but not that old. I turn 35 next week so no, I was nowhere near upstate New York in 1969.

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AJ– I realize that I may be too fond of Maurice Edu, but based on what I have read of his play in Scotland, is there any difference at all in skill level between him and Jones? I realize both are ahead of Clark, but once all legs are healed, does Jones provide something that Edu doesn't? Other than speaking German of course.

IVES– I’m not sure it’s fair to try and compare Edu to Jones. Let’s think about this rationally. Edu started a handful of matches for Rangers at the end of last season while Jones has a long and successful career playing in the German Bundesliga. Let’s see Edu settle in as a starter for an extended period of time before we go calling him Michael Essien based on a few good starts.

If both are healthy, I’d say Jones is clearly the better player, but Edu does have more upside.

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MANIC MESSIAH– Who is Michael Bradley's ideal partner in the center of midfield?

This might be harder to answer, but when both our central midfielders get caught upfield, is it Michael Bradley needing to choose his moments more carefully, or his partner needing to read his runs better?

IVES– I think Bradley and Feilhaber could work well together but they did struggle with the timing of their runs against El Salvador. Bradley has worked well with Clark in the past because Clark doesn’t really make surging runs forward often (the goal vs. T&T being the exception to the rule). If Bradley and Feilhaber ever develop a good understanding and timing of their runs, they would be the ideal central midfield pairing.

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MODIBO– What do you make of Chris Rolfe's decision to move to Denmark – did he have his Nats future in mind?

And what do you think the prospects are for the Fire next year, since they'll be without him, Soumare, Blanco, and probably Brown and Conde as well?

IVES– I think it was a combination of Rolfe wanting to make significantly more money than Chicago was offering, wanting to play in Europe and not wanting to lock himself into an MLS contract right before the MLS CBA was to expire.

I wrote about the state of the Fire for ESPN recently and the reality is the club stands to lose a handful of key players, with Soumare and Rolfe already gone. If Chicago can keep Blanco and Pappa, to go with Conde (one more year on his deal), Thorrington, Ward and Busch, that’s not a bad nucleus to work with. They’d still be a strong team, but would need to replace several players (and possibly a head coach).

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PATRICK– Ives, any chance you see the USA and Mexico jumping from CONCACAF to CONMEBOL? I thin
k it would help both programs to have to play against better competition to qualify for the World Cup, similar to Australia switching from Oceania to Asia. At this point both programs are all but guaranteed qualifying for the WC every 4 years, so what's the incentive to improve?

This would also trickle down to the club level, swine flu restrictions excluded.

IVES– Ever since Australia made its move to Asia we’ve been hearing this ludicrous theory. I’ve answered this before, but will do so again. THIS WILL NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

Could CONCACAF be better? Yes, but does CONCACAF’s strength relative to CONMEBOL keep Mexico and the United States from wanting to improve? No, that’s crazy talk. If anything, CONCACAF is improving, so there’s still plenty of incentive for Mexico and USA to improve.

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What do you think of these answers? Agree? Disagree?

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