If you have found yourself thinking, "You know, it's been forever since SBI had a Q&A" you are absolutely right. The craziness of the past few months, coupled with the size of the last batch of questions, led to almost half of the questions not being answered.
I didn't forget about them. I was just waiting for some downtime to have the chance to knock them out, and that chance has finally come. Here is Part Three of the last Four Part Q&A. Look for Part Four tomorrow.
Among the folks discussed in this batch of questions and answers: Guus Hiddink, Dirk Diggler (yes, really), Stefan Frei, Michael Bradley and Thierry Henry (to name a few).
Now here's a question SBI readers can answer for me. Would you rather I do a live Q&A where I handpick a small percentage of questions and answer those the same day, or would you rather wait however long it takes to have the Q&A finished? In this last Q&A I actually did both, answering a Best XI of questions right away. Let me know what you prefer and the popular pick will get the nod.
Now, back to the Q&A. Here are some of your (old) questions answered:
SAM– 1. Why do people think it would be such a great idea for the MLS to adopt a European, Fall-to-Spring, schedule?
2. As someone who lives in the northern U.S., you agree that it would be ridiculous change, right?
IVES– I think it has mostly to do with the desire to have MLS avoid playing on FIFA dates and playing games during FIFA tournaments.
2. Yes, I agree, ridiculous. I’d love to send folks recommending this idea to spend January or February in Chicago.
TERRY– Is Stefan Frei Eligible for USMNT future consideration?
IVES– Right now he isn’t and he’s focused on playing for Switzerland. That said, he lived in the United States long enough to apply for citizenship.
THA DEUCE– I know you think our current defense is better than the 2002 team but their offense and midfield was better, but by the time the summer of 2010 comes around, do you think our team will be the best, most experienced, and most talented we have ever seen come out of the U.S. or do you think in little over 1 year from now we won't see very much progress?
Also, if we beat Mexico twice in this round of qualifying, stay number 1 in Concacaf, and win the Gold Cup can we gain a better group stage for the World Cup than Mexico?
IVES– After the Costa Rica match it’s hard to say that the current U.S. team is better than the 2002 team in any way. I know that’s a bit unfair but that’s the reality. Maybe things will be a bit more clear after the Confederations Cup. I would say that the U.S. team boasts more midfield depth than back in 2002. That’s about the only area I’d concede as better, though you could argue that the current starting centerbacks are better than the 2002 centerbacks.
As for your second question, the answer is not really. The USA could theoretically play well enough to break into the second group pod of the four, but that might only make a small difference in group strength. The luck of the draw still plays the majority of the factor on group strength.
MAX G– With recent expansion teams raising the bar for fan support, are some of the less-successful MLS 1.0 franchises (Dallas, Columbus, Colorado) hopeless to turn themselves into similarly well-supported clubs?
And out of left field: What does Michael Bradley's success say about the nature vs. nurture argument? As in, where would Bradley be if he had a regular Astrovan, orange slice AYSO soccer upbringing?
IVES– I’m convinced that good marketing and good front office vision can help a team find success so the answer is no, I don’t think those MLS 1.0 clubs are hopeless.
As for Michael Bradley and nature vs. nurture, I think he’s an example of both really because he has clearly inherited some physical and mental gifts from his parents but clearly having been the son of a professional head coach and having the unique experiences and access that he had helped Bradley become the player he is.
I’ll point to Giuseppe Rossi as an example of nurture. His father was a very, very good high school coach and devoted untold amounts of time to individually training Giuseppe. All that work has obviously helped produce a special player. Would Rossi be a European player now if not for his father? I don’t think so.
NICO– Based on WC Qualifying etc., what CONCACAF players do you feel could/should be seriously pursued by MLS? (Some clearly won't be anytime soon like Suazo, Marquez, etc.) I mean players that MLS can realistically sign and add quality. (Examples: Furtado, Costly, etc.) Thanks again.
IVES– Having just seen the Costa Rican team torch the U.S. national team I think it’s safe to say there are several players there who I think could be great additions to MLS teams. Edison Sirias, Alvaro Saborio, Junior Diaz and Celso Borges could all do well in MLS, though at this point I’d wonder if MLS teams would pay what it would take to get someone like Borges to the league. I see him as a future CONCACAF star.
DANIEL– My brother and I were wondering if the MLS players get frequent flyer miles when they travel. Also, who makes the travel arrangements? I ask because I think only the Russian league has more travel.
IVES– Yes, they do get the miles. As for who makes travel arrangements, that duty falls to each MLS team’s team administrator.
JOE– Now that Canada has 2 MLS franchises (and maybe a 3rd on the way), is there enough Canadian talent to fill those domestic roster spots? Seems like a stretch for a country that is only quasi-competitive in CONCACAF. Could you ever see MLS moving to a system where "domestic" means US and Canada or US, Canada and Mexico? Or is that something FIFA wouldn't allow?
IVES– One of the biggest myths perpetuated by American soccer fans is that Canada is low on talent. Canada has just as many players in Europe as the United States has (though the Americans boast some more players in top leagues). What would keep the Canadian teams from filling their rosters with that Canadian talent is the salary cap, since so many Canadians are already in Europe making good wages. I think you could potentially see the number of Canadian roster slots be reduced slightly, but I don’t think a lack of Canadian talent will be a problem in an MLS with two to three Canadian teams.
KEVIN– How did DC United and Metrostars rivalry start?
IVES– I’m sure DC and Metros old-time fans will offer their theories but it seems as though the simple answer is the proximity between the teams and the playoff battles in the early years led to the rivalry getting off to a strong start.
SUPSAM– What are the changes that are sure to occur after the expiration of the CBA? (i.e. salary cap, reserve division, roster spots, DP slot, etc.)
IVES– That’s impossible to say Supsam because we don’t know what the union is prepared to fight for and what demands could lead to a strike. I’m still not convinced the Players Union will stand up and really fight MLS, but if they do, it will be interesting to see what concessions are made.
CARL– Agree or Disagree: Jozy Altidore is the Dirk Diggler of soccer. Heres the rationale: he burst on to the scene and was a huge success (with new york). he enjoyed it and maybe got a little full of himself. But then hegot introduced to an uplifting substance (European clubs) and then the bottom fell out and he lost his motivation and consequently got put on the backburner by jack horner for new stars like michael bradley. But then he realized that his career and life were going way downhill during a drug bust with thomas jane (xerex) and he decided to turn his life around by throwing all his support behind the one person (jack horner is the united states) that allowed him to make it big in the first place.
IVES– Not bad Carl, although I’m not sure Jack Horner/Bob Bradley ever put Altidore on the back-burner. If anything he’s kept him out on the forefront even as his club career stays in limbo.
The real question here is Who is Roller Girl? I have my answer but will keep it to myself and see if anyone figures it out.
(By the way, if you didn’t see Boogie Nights, please don’t feel obligated to go watch it now. I couldn’t deal with the potential trauma it might put you through.)
NEW YORKER– 1.)The redbulls are not off to a good start this year so are the Redbulls good enough to do well in the Concacaf champions league? Will the new additions to the team like Pancheco and Celades make a difference? Where do the Redbulls need more depth to be considered a contender for the MLS cup? If so, any ideas on who could best fill those positions?
2.)Besides the Gold Cup, WCQ, and the Confederations cup, does the USSF plan to schedule more games against high-profile teams like England, Spain, Brazil, etc in or to prepare for the WC? Which nations do you think would be a good test for the US?
3.) Who would you're ideal coach be for the USMNT at the moment to bring the US to the next level? What about Mourinho or Hiddink? Bob Bradley is alright but he doesn't have the knowledge to raise the level of USMNT. Do you think the US can make it out of the group stage at the WC?
IVES– The Red Bulls are having an awful season, there’s no getting around that, but I do think they are better than the results are showing. There’s a difference between a bad team that just can’t compete and one that competes but can’t get results. The MLS playoffs are a longshot at this point but I do think if they can weather this storm and find a good rhythm they have the players to make a run in the CONCACAF Champions League. The question is whether they can find that rhythm and stop making the terrible mistakes that are costing them points left and right.
What people need to realize about scheduling friendlies is that teams have to want to play you as well and there is no guarantee the USA will be able to secure strong friendlies in the run-up to the World Cup. That said, think about who the USA will have played in the two years prior to the World Cup: Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Italy and England. I’d like to see the United States play the likes of the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Portugal to name four teams.
As for who the ideal coach for the U.S. men’s national team, I’m generally opposed to the idea that all you need is a top foreign coach to have success. That said, there is one coach who I think transcends all issues when it comes to being able to inherit a team and get the most out of it. That coach is Guus Hiddink. He has the personality, tactical acumen, man management skills and respect to get the most out of any team. I will never forget what he did for South Korea in 2002 (the man achieved superhero status back then).
Throw in the fact that he spent a year playing in the NASL and you even have a coach who has some knowledge of the United States. Unfortunately, Roman Abramovich is bankrolling Hiddink’s large and well-deserved salary as Russia head coach so until he decides to try a new challenge.
EXPERIENCE DOGOOD– I have always been a fan of ESPN and its production quality with sports. However, ESPN hasn't seemed to figure out soccer just yet. The commentators tend to focus on human interest story lines and current events, rather than the action at hand. The producers in the truck spend way too much camera time on player/coach close-ups, and do so at the worst possible moments in the game! How many times have we missed the build up to a goal because the camera was zoomed in on Bruce Arena yawning?!?! Furthermore, the commentators are slow to call the goal because they were busy discussing Beckham, or something else irrelevant to the current game.
Is this a matter of ESPN not investing enough money to bring in high-quality production talent? Or just a learning curve issue? Do you see ESPN improving the product in the future?
IVES– I would tend to agree with these descriptions, only I wouldn’t limit it to ESPN. I think all the American soccer broadcasts suffer from these bad habits. I don’t think it’s an investment issue but just a case of American sports TV producers using old methods used for traditional American sports when not all of them work with soccer.
G-MAN– Any DP signings on the horizon? What's it look like for Henry to Red Bulls in the next year or so?
IVES– Haven’t heard of any DP signings coming and I can’t help but wonder if the economy will keep teams from making that investment. There are teams that could certainly benefit from one, like Toronto FC, Kansas City and Colorado to name a few (heck, what team can’t benefit from a big-ticket player?), but I just don’t know if we’ll see any this year.
As for Henry to the Red Bulls, I’m standing by that as a possibility after the 2009/2010 La Liga season. It makes perfect sense for Henry to come to MLS after the 2010 World Cup.
GAVIN– Superclassico, Superliga, California Classico??? I thought the US and Canada spoke English. Why the Mexican nicknames?
IVES– Last time I checked Mexican wasn’t a language. It’s all marketing my friend, though I’d agree that those names are probably lost on TFC fans.
CALDWELL– Ives, where did you end up going when you went to Seattle in March? What were the highlights and lowlights?
IVES– It’s all a blur at this point to be honest, but I did hit up some clubs on two of the nights I was there. I’d give the night scene there a B.
MIKE– There was some talk a year or two ago that AEG/Rentschler Field were considering pursuing a MLS expansion team for Hartford, but the Krafts were standing in the way due to Hartford being in their market. Any truth to this rumor? Is a MLS team something that residents from the Nutmeg State have any hope of landing in their backyard?
IVES– I find a hard time believing that one. The impression I’ve gotten is that AEG wants fewer MLS teams, not more, and an MLS team in Hartford is far from a guaranteed success. I wouldn’t hold my breath on an MLS team heading to Connecticut any time soon.
PETER– Not that I think it should happen, but do you feel Dempsey has enough quality — talent + work ethic + desire/heart — to be a squad player on a top-tier team? Put in different terms, is he as good as a Darren Fletcher?
IVES– Peter, Dempsey is coming off a great year for Fulham but Fletcher actually enjoyed a great year for United. He was one of Man Utd’s most underrated players. To answer your question, no, I don’t think Dempsey is as good as Fletcher, though they are different players so the comparison isn’t quite an exact one.
RASHID– hey Ives I wanted to know what the big deal was with the Scots throwing up the now infamous "v" sign. Thanks and I love the sight.
IVES– It’s basically an obscene gesture and they did it when they had already been benched for being out drinking all night. Basically it gave the impression that they weren’t remorseful and didn’t care about what they had done wrong.
NELS– I was just wondering in your opinion as to what are the odds you give towards bob bradley ever changing out of his 442 formation. With players like Dempsey or Donovan and Adu, it seems like sometimes they shine and sometimes go completely anonymous for whole games. For me this is attributed most often to playing out of best position. It seems like Bradley might be selecting a formation first then selecting the players to fit it rather than the other way around. any chance we'll see the 4231 in South Africa? What formation would you play?
Also, How do we stack up against a mediocre-to-good team like Australia or Turkey, if we were to meet them in 2010? sorry for the length
IVES– I think we’ve seen the 4-2-3-1 quite a bit actually from Bradley, as well as the 4-3-3 he trotted out against Costa Rica (though it morphed into a 4-5-1 pretty quickly). I don’t think it’s a case of Bradley playing people out of position as much as there are players whose best positions aren’t that clear-cut, such as Donovan and Bradley. Personally, I think this is a formation we could see at Confederations Cup:
I know Bradley tried this formation against Costa Rica, but the fullbacks were a nightmare that night and fullbacks are crucial to the success of this formation. If Bornstein and Spector can be solid, then it works. The biggest problem with this formation? Altidore isn’t a target striker. You need a good target man who can hold up the ball to play up top in this formation, which is why Ching would be well-suited for it. It can work just as well as a 4-2-3-1, though Altidore isn't quite a true target striker.
Lastly, I’d say the USA is a young team in transition so it’s tough to say how it will stack up come 2010 with a team like Australia or Turkey (I happen to think Australia is better than you give them credit for being).
ADAM– If you can become the MLS commissioner for one week, What 4 things would you change about MLS??
IVES– I would pay for the hiring of more full-time referees (even though U.S. Soccer might object, which I heard already happened). I would push rosters back to 28. I would give every MLS team a “USA DP Slot” it could use to pay an American player more than current MLS max salary. I would give the first seven MLS playoff spots to the team’s with the best records, but then I’d give the eighth spot to the team with the fewest ties, regardless of record (I know, it’s absurd, and I'm half-joking, but damn these ties are terrible).
WALLY– What happened to every team in the mls getting 2 DP on each team. Is it going to happen?
Also what do you think of carlos castillo coming to Mls, could he?? He really made Heduk looking pretty foolish outthere?? thanks
IVES– The recession happened.
As for Castillo, you can rest assured a Discovery Claim has already been filed by somebody.
IFISHIE– I was wondering what MLS players will likely get shipped across the pond over the summer transfer window.
Thanks and keep up the awesome work.
IVES– I would have said Marvell Wynne before the Costa Rica shocker, not so sure now. I’d say Sacha Kljestan, Ricardo Clark and Jonathan Bornstein are three who come to mind. Bornstein is in the last year of his contract so he’s gone by the winter regardless, but could go this summer with a good Confederations Cup. The same goes for Clark and Kljestan has enough interest already to merit a move.
GARY-What does Europe have to do to break the Man U and Barca monopoly? Just a couple years ago the winners of the different leagues and tourneys were as varied as each competition. Now it seems United is always winning the EPL and UEFA tourneys (and if they're not winning, Barcelona is). When will this 2 horse race end? Will it?
IVES– You can add Real Madrid to that trio now that Fiorentino Perez is determined to bring in a new version of ‘Los Galacticos’. I also think Chelsea is more than capable of breaking up that monopoly if it makes the right signings this summer. All that said, I still think Man Utd and Barcelona are the choices. Barcelona has a real special group of players and United’s depth and the presence of Sir Alex Ferguson will keep United near the top every year.
HUGO SCHECKTER– I am currently living in the UK, and support Everton, and lowly non league Boston United (!). Anyway, I am moving to DC for college in August, and want to follow an MLS team. I was think DC United as the obvious choice, due to location, but any other suggestions? I have no real preference, so any advice you have would be great!
IVES– That’s a tough one. Considering you will be in D.C. I would say that adopting D.C. United would be a good choice. Not just because they’re a good team and have a strong tradition, but because they have a passionate fanbase that could be fun to be a part of.
Now, if you want to suffer through the season, support the Red Bulls.
If you want to root for a team that will do well in the regular season, but let you down in the post-season, root for New England.
If you want to root for a team that needs fans, root for FC Dallas.
If you want to root for a team you could probably play for, root for San Jose.
If you want to root for a team that will make D.C. fans hate you, root for Chicago
If you want to root for a team you’ll be able to get a jersey for pretty easily, root for the LA Galaxy
If you want to root for a team coached by a fellow Englishman, root for Colorado.
DA BULL– What's your thoughts on Hamlett bringing Blanco in as a 2nd half sub?
IVES– I understand why he did it early in the season, with concerns about his fitness. The team got off to a good start so I can’t say it did any harm and now Blanco looks pretty fresh.
MARK– Scenario: The future Philly expansion team announces that they can no longer put together a team and will drop out. That night, Warren Buffett (one of the richest men in the world) calls you to say he's made a special deal with the league to take Philly's spot in 2010, he will be a new owner, and that he wants you to be his director/consultant. He wants his investment to be profitable in the future but money is not a constraint now.
Q1: Where in the U.S. and Canada do you base the team? (He assures you with his connections he can put up a stadium anywhere by March, 2010)
Q2: Who do you bring in as DP? (He'll allow you to offer no team or player can refuse)
Q3: Which non-MLS manager do you bring in to run the team? (Part of Buffett's deal is that he can't poach existing MLS players or staff)
Thanks for playing along. I really enjoy your site.
IVES– Great scenario. Much like Bill Simmons is convinced he could be an NBA GM, I am convinced I could run an MLS team on the personnel side, so let’s go:
1. I’d base the team in New York. Put a stadium in Queens and set about going after all those fans that have been ignored and alienated by the MetroStars/Red Bulls through the years.
2. Thierry Henry. I know you’re saying I could bring any player I want, but I’m going to be realistic. Ronaldo, Messi and Kaka aren’t coming here in their primes or before their primes. Even with that, Henry brings the charisma, marketability, perfect English and on-field skill to be a dream DP signing.
3. If money is no object then I’m going after Guus Hiddink.
ISAAC– If(God forbid) anything should happen to Bob Bradley or all of a sudden things go wrong for the MNT, What coach do you think would be a realistic second choice for the coaching position? I like Preki alot so I would say him.
IVES– If Bob Bradley decided to retire tomorrow to be a sheep herder or high school teacher (or anything but national team coach), or if Sunil Gulati decided to fire Bradley tomorrow after reading the blather on Big Soccer, my pick to replace him would probably be someone like Steve Nicol or perhaps Jurgen Klinsmann, who happens to be available. I also like Dom Kinnear and Sigi Schmid as possibilities but both are on big MLS contracts and I’m not sure they’d be able to walk away from those.
DAVE– During the Chivas-Galaxy derby game last week, why did each member of the espn announcer team insist on pronouncing the word derby as 'darby'?
IVES– Dave, you know very well why. Derby, when used to describe a soccer rivalry, is an England English usage and therefore they inherited the pronunciation most associated with that usage of the word.
What do you think of these answers? Share your thoughts below.