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Good morning and welcome to the latest installment of Your Questions Answered. It took a long time, but I finally finished off the last Q&A session, from October, and have those remaining answers for you today.
There were some good topics to discuss, such as ranking the Top 10 American goalkeepers, as well as my All-Time Best XI for currently retired U.S. national team players.
Now that these have finally been completed, look out for another Q&A this week. probably on Thursday. I will need to cut down on the number of questions I take because the numbers of questions are keeping me from answer them all in a timely manner.
Now, on to the answers to the rest of your most recent questions:
ART– Being a soccer history buff here, which starting eleven retired USA national team players (can still be playing club soccer) would you say would make the best eleven? Kind of an all star team choosing….
IVES– Here’s my best XI of RETIRED U.S. national team players based on form in their primes.
—————Brian McBride————-Eric Wynalda——————
Earnie Stewart————–Clint Mathis———————Tab Ramos
———————-John Harkes—-Claudio Reyna———————–
I reserve the right to make changes to this squad since I’m sure I’m probably forgetting somebody. It should be noted that I had John O’Brien listed but Mathis over him (Mathis circa 2000-2001 was a truly special player). I could have put Mathis at forward in favor of Wynalda but there’s no denying Wynalda’s national team contributions.
JONATHAN G– Hi Ives, What do you think so far of season 4 of Prison Break?
IVES– I think it has been entertaining, though a bit darker than the past seasons. I’m not going to say the show has jumped the shark yet but it’s getting pretty close. I will say that Michael Rappaport as a federal agent is one of the least believable castings I’ve seen on TV in a long time.
MICHAEL F– If Donavan goes to Bayern Munich, will he start? If he doesn’t start, will he quit again citing missing his girlfriend and dogs? If he doesn’t go to Munich, have you heard of any other teams showing an interest and if so who? Finally, who is better? Lando of Deuce?
IVES– I see you’re a Landon Donovan fan. I think Donovan will get playing time if he signs and I think he’s talented and mature enough now to succeed in a way he never came close to in his stints with Bayer Leverkusen. I haven’t heard of any names of other teams showing interest, but have heard that there are clubs who have inquired. As for Donovan and Dempsey, they’re different kind of players with different strengths. That’s a hard call. I think if you’re talking who I’d rather sign to a team, I’d probably say Donovan. If you’re talking who I’d rather have in a one-off situation, in a big game with a lot on the line? I’ll take Dempsey.
CHRIS– 1. Will GBS and Schmid re-sign in Columbus? 2. Will MLS continue to rely mostly on college soccer for players or will academies take over?
IVES– 1. I don’t know enough about Schelotto’s situation but I wonder if winning MLS Cup will impact his decision. An MLS Cup win might lead him to retire on that note, or then go to Argentina to play for Gimnasia. As for Schmid, I would put money on him accepting a big contract offer from Seattle Sounders FC. Schmid has done the job in Columbus and I could see him tempted by a new challenge and by the power of the Seattle ownership, which has big bucks and a new market to win over. If that happens Crew fans shouldn’t be too worried. Schmid has built a great young team and assistant coach Robert Warzycha is one of the best head coaching prospects in MLS.
MIKE K– Yes or nooooo!!!!!!! 1. Reading’s looking hot as it is right now… 1a. Do they stay on the elevator and go back up? 1b. Will Convey EVER play? 2. Germany’s looking as weak as ever… Will they get a team past the CL group stages in this year or next year’s tournament? 3. UEFA cup’s getting it’s name changed? Sounds like a ploy. Will it work in it’s attempt to grant meaning on the tournament? non-yes/no… Keane’s contract looks to be getting extended at Sunderland… You’re take on his management job, and his um, run ins with well… Just about everyone?
IVES– Mike, you’re pushing the question limit my friend, but here goes: 1A. I don’t think Reading goes back up. 1B. Convey will play again, but will get hurt again and will be playing in MLS in 2009.
2. Have you seen Bayern? I’m convinced they’re good enough to get to the Champions League quarterfinals depending on the draw.
3. No, a name won’t do that, but having prestigious teams in the tournament and having great games will do that. AC Milan being in it this year should make things very interesting. I also think UEFA Cup is more prestigious than American fans may realize. I think Keane is a very good manager who is going to have a great career. As for his run-ins, I think he’s still a very strong-willed individual but someone who is slowly learning how to be a more diplomatic person. Nobody has a problem with Alex Ferguson’s constant run-ins with people, nor do I think it effects his ability to be a good manager.
SUPSAM– Do you think Shunsuke Nakamura would be an ideal DP for seattle (which also has a huge japanese population)? If so, what are MLS’s chances of getting him?
IVES– Supsam, I’ve been tooting the Nakamura to Seattle horn since day one so yes, I think he would have been ideal. I just don’t think he’s interested, which is probably why Seattle settled on Freddie Ljungberg. There are other Japanese players who are more available, like a Shinji Ono, but Nakamura would be the holy grail of DP’s for Seattle.
YOSSARIAN– Oh wise Obi-Wan, You’ve sounded very down on Freddie Adu of late. I, too, have noticed that his defense is erratic at best on the few occasions I’ve been able to see him of late (Olympics, qualifying and several USMNT matches), though I disagree with you regarding his offensive contributions.
My question is this. Should we begin worrying about Freddie and his seeming lack of commitment on the defensive end, or is this pretty normal for a kid his age who is an offensive player? Can we expect him to develop his defense as he gets older, or is this a serious flaw in his game that may hinder him for years from getting playing time at a high level? I’ve noticed that he seems to back way off of players with the ball and just sit in passing lanes, hoping for help/ to cherry pick a bad pass. Is this simply a motivational problem with aggressiveness or does he lack the tools/ skills/ strength to take on offensive players? I think this is so important because he IS a wonderful offensive player who will get much more playing time if BB and his club coach sees that he can be played not just as a striker but also as a midfielder who can get back and help out on defense.
IVES– I guess you can say I’m down on Adu because he just hasn’t shown the progress you would have hoped for at this point. I know he’s still only 19, but every year for a while we’ve gotten the same refrain. “He’s only 18, he’ll develop.” “He’s only 17, he’ll develop.” “He’s only 18, he’ll develop.” The on-the-ball skill is there, but he’s not exactly strong on the ball, has what must be described as a poor work rate, and can be neutralized pretty easily.
Here’s the thing. You can put him on the field and he can contribute offensively, but you almost need to build your team around him and have an extra defensive midfielder to make up for what he lacks and there’s a serious question of whether he’s someone a team would ever do that for. The modern game doesn’t allow for those one-way playmakers who don’t contribute on both ends (at least not in Europe or on the international level). The speed of play, strength and intensity of the modern game make it difficult to carry that type of player, especially on the international level. There are some rare exceptions, like a Juan Riquelme, but I don’t think anybody is equating Adu to Riquelme.
Unless and until Adu develops a better work rate and a more intense approach to being a two-way player he will struggle to find a role both in Europe and the U.S. national team. I’m not ready to say he’s washed up though, that would be crazy to say about a player his age. He obviously has talent, and has shown that this past year, but anyone who thinks he hasn’t flourished because he hasn’t been given chances is living in denial.
ALTICOOPER– Who do u feel the top ten American goal keepers are at the moment (pretending they are all at full health)? Also, Its obvious Howard is our number one while Guzan is our number
2… who do you think would be our number 3 and alternative for the world cup. I don’t see Friedel in the mix unless Howard is injured. Hesmer, Keller, Cervi (if things go well with celtic) Hahnemann, Perkins, are all names that come to mind
IVES– Here are my Top 10:
- 1. Tim Howard
- 2. Brad Friedel
- 3. Marcus Hahnemann
- 4. Brad Guzan
- 5. Kasey Keller
- 6. Joe Cannon
- 7. Matt Reis
- 8. Troy Perkins
- 9. Kevin Hartman
- T10. Will Hesmer
- T10. Jon Busch
(I forgot about Matt Reis in my original list, he should be there.)
It’s tough to know at what level Kasey Keller will be playing at in 2009, after having not played for a year, but if he’s anywhere close to his level at Fulham last spring then I think he’ll be a Top five player.
Some folks will question Joe Cannon as the first MLS keeper on the list but he’s the best in the league for my money. From seven to 10 is really tough to call and I wouldn’t really argue with any order for that group.
I also think that once Matt Pickens has a team and is playing again he will be on this list. Then there are those second-tier European keepers like David Yelldell and Luis Robles, who haven’t seen enough of to compare, but starting in Bundesliga II isn’t something to sneeze at.
Dom Cervi is way too raw to put on this list, Celtic or not, but he’s someone who COULD potentially be a Top five goalkeeper in three or four years.
ROB– Do you think in the next 4-5 years soccer will be a popular sport? Will MLS stadiums be full?
IVES– I think soccer can increase its popularity, but I think MLS and U.S. Soccer have to do a better job of marketing the sport. It’s headed in the right direction, but people expecting soccer to match the Big Three sports in the near future isn’t living in reality. Football, baseball and basketball have decades and decades of established followings and deep roots in this country’s sports culture. The goal should be to see soccer move past the likes of hockey, auto racing, golf and tennis. The higher up it moves, the more exposure it will receive and the more casual fans can be won over.
MARK– Thanks for doing this website. It’s a really big asset to MLS fans. What are the rules for Seattle’s expansion draft going to look like? Are they likely to sign anymore players before the draft and if so who?
IVES– Hey Mark, thanks for writing in and for the kind words. Here are the MLS expansion draft rules. As for signings, Seattle Sounders FC have signed Kasey Keller, Sebastian LeToux, Freddie Ljungberg and Sanna Nyassi.
BLUEWHITELION– What affect do you think free movies ("with limited commercial interruption!) on IMDb and Hulu.com will have on online rental companies like Netflix and Blockbuster? With the current single entity structure, do you think a highly successful Montreal team/fans/Toronto rivalry, could provide better financial MLS stability, even if it is not a US market, nor the largest market?
IVES– Blockbuster has been doomed for a long time. Netflix will need to find a new strategy. The phrase “evolve or die” is painfully true in the biz of movie rentals. Having Montreal in the league and having that rivalry can only help the league. Healthy and successful franchises that turn profits and develop strong and growing fan bases are the key to MLS flourishing and Montreal could certainly provide that, which is why I think we’ll see Montreal be chosen for 2011.
BUBBLEHOUSE– 1. Seeing that michael bradley scores most of his goals from follow ups. Wouldn’t it benefit him as well as the rest of Team USA to start a striker who can at least put shots on goal. I don’t mind brian ching but he just can’t unleash a shot like kenny cooper. I believe just having a player that could get shots and maybe cause some spilled balls would increase the US offensive output 10 fold. Disagree? 2. With the success of USL in champions league should MLS Bids be lowered to 2 or 3 and at least one US based USL team be given a berth. Or perhaps and automatic berth to their champion?
IVES– I disagree with your presentation, but the root of what you’re trying to say is true enough. It would benefit the national team to have a striker good enough to put strong shots on goal because it helps any team to have a dangerous striker (I also think it’s a myth that Bradley’s goals are mainly tapped in rebounds. A lot of his goals come off secondary runs and players finding him on those runs).
I can understand why you think Cooper “unleashing” shots could be a way for the national team to improve it’s offense but I would say that a majority of those clear chances Cooper has gotten on the club level with FC Dallas wouldn’t come on the international level. That’s not a knock on Cooper, but the reality of the higher level of play on the national team level, and the mediocre defending in MLS.
2. No. That’s not happening. Nor do I think it should.
TDM– Will the USA ever produce a soccer player on par with Messi or Ronaldo or Zidane? If so, when and from what part of the country do you see this player emerging?
IVES– Ever? That’s impossible to say but it should be noted that there are plenty of countries that have never produced a Messi or Ronaldo. I do think the chances of developing that kind of player increase as MLS grows and invests more in player development, as U.S. continues to grow and improve its Player Development Academy initative, and as soccer slowly becomes a popular sport in all regions of this country. As for what part of the country, that’s a bit insane to try and predict, but if I had to put some money on where, I think I’d have to go with New Jersey/New York. Yes, I’m a homer, but considering Jersey helped produce John Harkes, Claudio Reyna, Tab Ramos and Giuseppe Rossi I don’t think it’s a stretch.
SEAN– Ives, you rule. Two questions.
1. It’s become increasingly evident to me that Garber is not taking the league as far as he used to be able to. How much longer will we keep Don Garber in the Commissioner’s role?
2. Let’s face it. MLS teams won’t get any better if they just keep playing the same old, same old style against the same 13 clubs. The play in the Champion’s League has been much better than MLS. Non-MLS clubs are much more creative and technically gifted on the ball, whereas MLS clubs just do the same old attack almost every time. MLS clubs are predictable. Should fans sit back and just accept the fact that the league and its clubs aren’t taking things like the Champion’s League seriously? Not to mention that it makes it awfully hard to defend MLS against soccer snobs when out champion clubs can’t even beat the champs from T&T or Honduras, while USL1 clubs can. We almost always get schooled by clubs from other countries in serious competitions.
IVES– Thanks Sean.
1. What exactly isn’t Garber doing? The league is growing, money is coming in from better television contracts, the league’s marketing arm has become a very successful endeavor. If you’re talking about the on-field product and the quality of talent and play, I would argue that those things don’t fall under Garber’s responsibilities. I would agree that it is a legitimate question of whether the league’s player personnel department is equipped and capable of handling the responsibilities of making this league grow. Especially when the MLS player personnel department has more influence and control of player moves than even teams do.
2. Sean, what exactly is the “MLS style of play”? There isn’t just one style of play in MLS. Various teams play various styles, some better than others, some more stylish than others, and yes, some more boring and predictable than others, but to lump the entire league into one group is a bit much. As for the Champions League, the inconvenient truth about MLS and Champions League is that MLS teams just don’t have the depth to put forth strong efforts in both league play and Champions League, and since winning in MLS is still the priority, MLS teams are being forced to field teams with developmental players and end of bench types rather than all their stars.
As for your “Champions League play is better than MLS” suggestion, I will agree that there has certainly be plenty more offense in Champions League play than MLS play but you’re also basing that on the games you saw on TV (which were usually the best games of the rounds). If you only get to see the best match-ups you’re obviously going to find the quality of play better than that of MLS as a whole.
And I don’t think you can take this year’s Champions League and use it as a unilateral piece of evidence to convict the quality of play in MLS. Consider the four teams that played in the tournament. Houston was good and had the best showing, but D.C. had major injury issues all year, New England was also seriously short-handed in the tournament and then you had Chivas USA, which was in bad shape injury-wise when it put itself into a hole in the tournament. At the end of the day, MLS teams need to be deeper to have any hope of having serious success in tournaments like the CONCACAF Champions League.