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Good afternoon all and welcome to the latest installment of Your Questions Answered. With the holiday season upon us I figured it was time to finally deliver these answers that you have been waiting more than a month for.
There are three segments left from the most recent Q&A and the plan is to drop one each of the next three days, with the plan being to have the newest Q&A on Friday, so stay tuned for that.
For now, here are some more of your questions answered on topics ranging from ESPN's coverage of soccer, Benny Feilhaber, darkhorse candidates to play for the U.S. national team, Charlie Davies and my pick for which team I would buy if I suddenly had some Arab Money to spend.
JOE– You play the lottery tomorrow and win $500million after taxes. Which existing MLS club do you buy or do you buy a new franchise and if so in what city? Also, who's the first player you go after as a DP with your new club? For the DP, be reasonable, as in, C Ronaldo or Messi are out of the question…
IVES– Interesting scenario. First, I would have to get approved as a potential owner by the Board of Governors (which may not be a lock based on some of the things I’ve written. Kidding).
I would actually want to buy the Red Bulls. Why? Well, I’m a Jersey guy, North Jersey to be exact, so I would want to own and run a team in my neck of the woods. Unfortunately for me, half a billion might not be enough to pry the club (and the stadium being built) away from Red Bull, at least not without leaving myself without much more to work with.
I would want a second DP who can still play and who can draw fans from the area. I would do everything imaginable to try and bring Deco to the area. A wonderful midfielder who would be a magnet for the large Portuguese and Brazilian populations in the nearby Ironbound section of Newark.
I wouldn’t stop there. I would talk to Nolberto Solano about coming to play in MLS. I would need to convince him to play here for what he would consider peanuts (which is what Bob Bradley convinced Youri Djorkaeff to do a few years ago). Solano or not, an Angel-Deco tandem would be pretty nice. Though, to be honest, I think Red Bull Arena will be packed when it opens, second DP or not.
That's the owner in me talking though. I would leave things up to my front office, with some input from me of course. I'm not sure how much input I would have since I would presumably be busy spending the rest of all that money I came into.
PAUL– Is there an email address where fans of the game can write to about getting more coverage on ESPN or ESPN Radio. I'm not looking for an hour long show but maybe the occasional segment about the MLS. Especially around the championship and the playoff semi-finals. Keep up the great work.
IVES– Not sure who you can contact directly at ESPN or ESPN Radio. I would say that ESPN is slowly but surely making a bigger commitment to soccer. I don’t think anybody can argue that. Obviously we would all love soccer to have a higher profile on ESPN in general but ratings talk and BS walks and until MLS starts moving the needle in the ratings department soccer is going to have a low profile on ESPN. That said, you shouldn’t ignore how far the sport has come on the network.
ETO’OO– Given that the USMNT has a lack of depth at left and right back, wouldn't it make sense for Bob Bradley to move one of his defensive midfielders to the back line? It seems like there is a lot of depth there. So wouldn't someone like Edu or Clark be able to fill the role?
IVES– The ideal fullback is a player who can not only defend, but can also get forward into the attack, someone with pace who can deliver a good cross. Edu and Clark are solid defensive midfielders who wouldn’t necessarily make a smooth transition to right back. Clark could play at right back (moreso than Edu in my opinion) but I’m not sure it’s already time so scrap Clark as a national team option in midfield.
Hammerhead– Just saw where Spector re-signed with West Ham. Any idea what the opinion of him inside the club is? Obviously good enough to keep him, but is he just an average player, or a regular starter when healthy?
IVES– I couldn’t begin to tell you what the opinion of Spector is, but it should be noted that he is now playing for a new manager in Gianfranco Zola so it will be very interesting to see whether Zola keeps Spector or disposes of him in order to bring in his own players.
HARDEST WORKING FAN– Are you planning to bring back the Supporters' Views? They were fun!
IVES– I do plan on bringing the Supporter Views back, but not until the site is re-designed and allows for them to get the treatment and exposure they deserved.
TYLER– If you had the ear of Freddy Adu's manager, agent, mother, or fairy godmother, what would you have them instill in him the idea of "defense"?
IVES- I don't think it's just an issue of defense, but rather of work rate and intensity. I would show tell them to show Adu video of Lionel Messi and and have him see the work Messi does when he doesn't have the ball.
YOSSARIAN– Are there any young dark horses for making an impact on the USMNT 2010 World Cup squad (I'm not talking like a Charlie Davies – more like someone we haven't even seen make a roster yet)? Particularly, are there any young central defenders that might make an impact if a Boca/ Gooch goes down or is the cupboard bare of young potential studs at that position (you never hear of any good young guys in those spots except for Subotic (who's not going to sign up) and Califf (who many feel is not actually, well, good).
IVES– So you're asking for a completely unknown defender who might step in and play for the U.S. national team in 2010? That's a tough one. Chad Marshall is someone who hasn't gotten caps recently who I could see starting in 2010. He's the creme of the crop in terms of young defenders. Ike Opara has tremendous upside, but 2010 might be a bit early. He would be 21 then. I suppose you could say that if there were someone off the radar I would take a flyer on as having a chance in 2010 it would be Opara, but in terms of young defenders who haven't played for the national team lately who will be there in 2010, I would bank on Marshall big time.
MIKE– Recently there was a rumor of Jonathan Steele, the USL-1 MVP this last season joining the Wizards. Any more news to this rumor? Or have you heard anything?
IVES– Mike I haven't heard anything regarding Steele and KC, but I doubt anything is imment. I have also heard that Seattle has first crack at the top USL-1 stars so we will need to see if they have any interest.
ISAAC– Thanks for the website Ives. This is the first time of looked forward to coming home since pokemon came on at 4pm. Whats it going to take for Benny Feilhaber to get back with the national team? What team in the MLS plays the best possesion soccer in the league?
IVES– Feilhaber needs to get on the field and start playing regularly for a club team before we talk about him for the national team again. As for MLS teams playing the best possession soccer, Chicago was pretty good at knocking it around, as was Columbus obviously. Also, when healthy I thought D.C. was pretty good moving the ball around as a group.
SMITH– Is John O'Brien in favor of relegation/promotion? What does he think of a single table?
IVES– John O'Brien is in favor of the relegation of his name as a topic of conversation on SBI.
KA– Any idea what happened to/what is wrong with Benny Feilhaber? After his goal against Mexico it seemed like he had a great future. Now he cannot get off/on to the bench in Denmark.
IVES– Injuries and a terrible stint at Derby County have derailed his career, but he is still young and talented and capable of turning things around. His recently lack of playing time has been more due to an injury from what I understand.
LIVERBULL– 1. Do you think MLS will consider having games scheduled around International matches next season and beyond? 2.Will MLS have serious talks regarding expanding team rosters to make the league more competitive for CONCACAF Champions league and other international club tournaments? 3. Why doesn't FIFA impose a fine to the MLS for having gridiron markers on the pitch? If football governing bodies can fine club teams for racism, fans running on the pitch and other travesties don't you think having those god damn lines on the pitch tarnishes the game? 4. When are you going to get a podcast or a call in show? RBNY fans need an outlet.
IVES– 1. I think MLS is trying to work around some dates in 2009 but it's just tough to work around all the dates because of fixture congestion and the ability to schedule games in some of the stadiums they don't own. 2. Senior rosters have been expanded by two from 18 to 20 for 2009, but I don't think we will see the type of significant increase teams really need until after the new CBA is completed, if ever. 3. This one is a little idealistic. I have seen non soccer lines in some of the top leagues in the world on occasions. It's not that serious. It's ugly, but I don't think FIFA will be stooping to that level any time soon. 4. I hope to have a podcast up and running in the next few months.
AUSTIN– Thanks Ives for taking you're time to answer our questions. It means alot. 1) Who are the top five under 18 prospects for the u.s. that you are anxious to see if they develop upon their promising young talent 2) Who finishes first in the hex? U.S. or Mexico? and why?
IVES– I'm not really spending a lot of time thinking about Under-18 national team prospects so I can't say I have a list of them. I would say that Joseph Gyau, Charlie Renken and Stefan Jerome are three players who are drawing plenty of interest and are considered the top players to watch among younger U.S. prospets. 2. I would say the USA, because the U.S. team is in a more stable place right now than Mexico so even though you could argue that Mexico is more talented, I think they have issues that might take a while to sort out. Both will make it though.
FROG- This is a serious question that has been nagging me for seemingly years: What is that "phone-dialing" noise that you constantly hear on Fox Soccer Channel?
IVES- It's a glitch in the Matrix. Kidding. I have no idea.
JAMES- What are your thoughts on Kamani Hill as a future MNT player? He has disappeared off the radar with Wolfsburg but I am of the opinion that he is a very talented and versatile player. Do you agree and what do you see for him down the road?
IVES- My only real exposure to him was in the U.S. Olympic qualifying tournament and the French tournament later in the spring and while he showed some flashes, I can't sit here and say I have an opinion on his national team future. He needs to find some first-team soccer, and figure out what position works best for him. He's WAY off the radar screen in my opinion (of course I'm sure now he'll get an invite to the January national team camp because I said that).
COOP- 1) Do you think it is inevitable that Espn will pick up the Epl in the next 5 years? and how will they implement it into their already packed weekend schedule? 2)What is the next thing you think Espn will do to expand their soccer coverage? For instance: show two champions league games at the same time like they do Euro or World cup? or maybe pick up some international friendlies…what do you think the next big step will be?
IVES- I don't know about inevitable. I would imagine that ESPN (and any other sports TV entity) would want the EPL because it's a ratings bonanza. I'm just not sure if Fox Soccer Channel will be letting that go any time soon. 2. Your suggestions wouldn't surprise me. I found it very interesting that ESPN recently showed an Italian national team match, which seemed sort of out of the blue. What I can tell you is that ESPN is thinking long and hard about how to handle soccer and how to improve its coverage. They don't plan on sitting around until 2010 and not do much until the next World Cup. I think we will see improvements and increase in soccer coverage from the network (and the website).
ROB- When are we going to see "United States Taxpayers" replace AIG on Manchester United's kits? On a serious note, do you think Bob Bradley is going to be taking his top squad to the Confederations Cup this summer? I've already bought my tickets as I'll be studying abroad that and am pretty pumped to see them play against some top class sides.
IVES– I think it's very safe to say that the U.S. national team will bring an A Team to the Confederations Cup (and I don't mean Mr. T or Face). The Gold Cup squad is the one that will be depleted this time around.
KAREN– Thanks for answering my question. Now that the CONCACAF Champions League is in full swing, should Superliga experience a quiet death or is there still room for it, perhaps as a CONCACAF poor man’s version of the UEFA Europa League (a.k.a. UEFA Cup)? Comment I’ve been a big fan of the Superliga tournament and have enjoyed the spirited play among the clubs participating in it (even if some of them have demonstrated poor sportsmanship at times as well). Next year, only two of the MLS teams – the Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo – appear to do the CL/Superliga “double dip”. Still, MLS clubs do not appear to have the roster depth to legitimately compete in all three tournaments let alone four of them (MLS league, US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League and Superliga).
IVES– I think there is definitely still room for SuperLiga but MLS has to be careful about putting too much of a strain on certain MLS teams. It was telling that the four teams that reached conference finals last year did not compete in either SuperLiga or Champions Cup/League.
TIM F.– Great site and reporting! You definitely deserve the best soccer blog award (and you did last year as well). Besides the Cinderella run of New York, what do you think are this year’s top stories in MLS? For me, one of them is the fact that MLS current roster restrictions and salary cap prevent its member clubs to have sufficient roster depth to be among the top teams competing in CL and Superliga. As a follow up question, what changes (if any) should MLS implement next year so that the league has a better showing internationally?
IVES- Thanks for the kind words Tim. I don't know about your suggestion as being a "top story". A top dilemma? Perhaps, but not a top story. Top stories include the Columbus Crew rise from out of the playoffs to MLS Champion, Jozy Altidore's big move to Villarreal, Brian McBride's homecoming, San Jose returning to MLS. Those are just some of the better stories of the year in MLS.
As for your follow-up, The league needed to increase the senior roster size, which it did, and the salary cap, which it barely did. Was that enough to really help MLS teams compete in all these competitions? I don't think it was nearly enough.
PHILIP– Do you think Bob Bradley should have selected Charlie Davies and Jeremiah White for the Guatemala friendly? What might Bob be waiting for to give these young players a competitive CAP opportunity like Jozy, Adu and Sasha and even Sean Franklin are getting?
IVES– If I recall correctly Davies was unavailable after having oral surgery. As for White, you could put him in the category of European-based players Bob didn't want to fly all the way over for a meaningless match. I do think that both Davies and White should and will get long looks in the January camp and I could see both getting more call-ups in 2009.