Good afternoon folks. I'm back from Europe and ready to get back into the swing of things, and that will begin with the latest installment of Your Questions Answered.
Among the topics in the latest batch of questions are queries about the World Cup, Landon Donovan, Charlie Davies, Luis Gil and LeBron James (yes, LeBron).
Let's get started:
PARKER– Which match of the group stage of the world cup do you think will be the Best to watch?
IVES– England vs. USA is going to be special. I know some people (namely most outside of the USA) think it won’t be close, but I think the whole scene will be memorable and the match will be more competitive that many expected.
In terms of two strong teams battling, I’d say Brazil-Portugal will be must-see TV.
EA– Ives, props on the great site, and the Fox Soccer gig.
A. Will you be adding (and auditioning) more writers to the site?
B. Who are 2-3 players that you believe will be added to MLS in the summer?
IVES– Thanks EA. A. Yes, I will. I’d like to add a handful of writers to the staff in the coming weeks. Ideally I’d have writers in as many markets as possible. As it stands I’ve got New York, D.C. and LA covered. Looking for someone in Chicago, Seattle and pretty much all the other MLS markets.
B. Which foreign players? Good question. I would have put my money on Thierry Henry but am not sure where that stands. I have yet to hear any other strong rumors on higher-profile foreign players.
JAY– Just to put Donovan in context a bit. You're a decision maker at a 2nd tier EPL team like Man City or Everton or Villa. What do you offer as a transfer fee for Landon Donovan? What about a Claudio Reyna in his prime?
IVES– Why only a second tier team? Do you mean everyone below the “Big Four”? I’d argue that Liverpool and Chelsea could both use Donovan, and we know now that there are rumors circulating about Chelsea’s interest.
What would I be willing to pay? As a mid-table club, based on his performance on loan and the pretty clear proof that he can step in and make an impact in the EPL (and be a marketing darling)? I’d probably go $12-15 million. Now, if it’s a Chelsea, I can see them going $15-18 million. That might seem high, but people don’t realize the value Donovan gained by going to the EPL and showing he can be an impact player capable of playing in multiple positions.
JC– Any plans on upgrading the comments feature on your blog? It's difficult to navigate when the number of comments exceed 50 or so.
Also, are there any plans on adding a forum feature to your blog? Thanks.
IVES– We only recently changed the look of the comments section so having it change again seems unlikely. That said, if I ever get a proper re-design off the ground, that would be something we would look to try and perfect (I’d love some suggestions of other sites that handle large numbers of comments better).
A forum is on the way, at least a forum of sorts. It will be a community section where people can discuss topics of the day. I’m still working on that but hopefully in the next week or two we can get that going.
STEVE– How much of a bump, if any, will MLS see this year/next year. We got almost every team with a SSS, 18 teams with some good rivalries in place, solid fans in about 25% of markets and coming off the World Cup.
IVES– 2010 is a big year for MLS, barring a strike. We’ve got Philadelphia entering the league and bringing with it a vibrant fan base and market. You’ve also got Red Bull Arena opening, as well as Seattle preparing to build on an amazing first year. That, coupled with the boost a World Cup can provide, could really help MLS gain some traction and draw in plenty of new fans.
Now, if there’s a strike, all bets are off.
MEXICANBLUEFISH– IVES, this site is the best, your hard work is greatly appreciated, THANKS. My questions:
Do you think it is possible that Landon's success at Everton could actually elevate his nats' teammates' confidence in him, even though they have always known that he is a world class player??
Do you think our huge Mexican population could have an influence in how the American style continues to develop its own identity?
IVES– Thanks for the kind words Mex.
I do think Donovan’s success at Everton can and will have a positive effect on the national team. Not only because it will instill more confidence in him by his teammates, but it has given Donovan a new level of confidence that could result in him being a better and more consistent player on the national team. You can definitely tell this loan has had a profound impact on Donovan’s psyche. Just think about it. Imagine being Donovan, and having three failed stints in Germany be the overbearing smears on an otherwise stellar career. He can now look at his play at Everton as vindication of his abilities. He’ll always tell you that he always had confidence in his ability, but even he admitted that it helped him realize he can play against anybody and play well.
I think the large Mexican population here has already had an influence in producing some good prospects, more than we have seen come through the youth ranks in the past. I do think American youth soccer is getting better at identifying and embracing Latino talent, but it's still far from the system we'll need to maximize a resource that has gone under-utilized for far too long. I have confidence in the things U.S. Soccer's Developmen Academy is doing to help improve this, and I think as MLS teams get more involved in player development they should hopefully help tap into those reservoirs of talent that have been overlooked in the past.
EVAN– Great site! I was wondering what you thought about US U-20 Juan Agudelo and if you have heard the latest on where he will be playing this coming year?
IVES– Six months ago I would have told you Agudelo was a young but green prospect who was several years away from being able to make an impact on the pro level. Now? I see a player who has had a growth spurt and maturation of his physique that has only given him more confidence in the skills he already possessed. I’d say it should be a foregone conclusion that the Red Bulls sign Agudelo.
The question I think now is whether MLS has any Generation adidas money to offer him the type of lucrative deal other top Generation adidas players have gotten. There are some homegrown Generation adidas deals that are much smaller than the sort of deals players such as Danny Mwanga, Ike Opara and Dilly Duka received (let’s call them Gen adidas Lite contracts). The Red Bulls and MLS probably thought it would be able to sign Agudelo to one of those deals, but given his improvement, and his successful trial in Colombia, things have changed. Hopefully MLS and the Red Bulls realize they’d be foolish to let him get away.
HUSH– Any possibility that Francisco Torres moves to a Spanish club next season? I heard rumors that some clubs were interested in him. Any info regarding this matter would be great.
IVES– I can’t say how real those rumors were, the ones linking him as a potential throw-in to Deportivo La Coruna for Omar Bravo. I do think he could do very well there, but I think he still has some maturing to do in Mexico. I can see him being a transfer target in the summer of 2011.
SCOTT– I'm having a tough time understanding the excitement of American players to Europe when they get buried on the bench or can't even make the cut to 18 on game days. I'm sure once they get there the players have a competitive chip on the shoulder and are working hard as they can, but it pains me to see Stuart Holden lost in Bolton and Kenny Cooper seeing minimal minutes for a Championship side fighting off relegation. Thoughts?
IVES– Scott, I think you (as well as players going to Europe) have to have some patience and realize that the European game is a serious proposition where nothing is given easily. Players have to pay their dues and put in serious work to fight for and win spots. Should players really pack it in after a few weeks or months without playing? The cut-and-run approach, in my opinion, is a defeatist mentality. Look at the players who have excelled in Europe. Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley to name a few, have all had their trials and tribulations.
Even your remark about Stuart Holden had me wondering about you because he eventually did work his way into a starting role before the broken leg last week. The fact is that more and more Americans are going to Europe and some of them just aren’t going to make it, BUT I do think more will start to make it and we’re already seeing the benefits of that. Players such as Holden and Edu have begun to establish themselves in Europe.
CHRIS– Do you plan on playing Fantasy MLS this year? If so, what league are you planning to use? I notice http://fantasy.mlsnet.com/ still has last year's info.
IVES– Yes, I do plan on having fantasy MLS this year and will be doing everything in my power to make sure it stays prominent throughout the year. I will also try to secure some prizes for the league’s top finishers. One thing I need is a fantasy MLS writer to do a weekly column. I think that worked well in the past.
SMOKED GOUDA– Ives,
Why doesn't the USSF schedule more games against stronger, European teams in the lead up to the Cup? We seem to only play against CONCACAF teams.
IVES– Gouda, you really need to pay attention. When was the last FIFA date the U.S. team didn’t play a quality opponent? The past three were road games in Europe against THREE World Cup participants in Denmark, Slovakia and the Netherlands. That, in just the past four months, is a pretty impressive lineup. Throw in the Turkey and Czech Republic matches in May and I think scheduling is the LEAST of the national team’s concerns.
Seriously, have you seen who the team has played in the past three years? Brazil (three times), Spain (twice), Argentina (twice), Italy and England, as well as the aforementioned nations. I’m pretty sure there aren’t many countries in the world that can boast that collection of opponents over the past three years.
C|3– A lot of Americans are ending up in Scandinavia, how come more aren't looking to play in France like Bocanegra and Davies?
IVES– I’m sure tons of Americans would love to play in France, but it’s a top European league and you have to be good enough. No player is choosing Scandinavia over Ligue 1 if given the option. Hopefully more Americans start getting interest from French leagues, which I think is happening. You had the rumored Paris St. Germain interest in Landon Donovan as well as former Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare making the move to Boulogne. It does seem as though the MLS and Americans are making some inroads into France.
DCD– Can the US' college-based culture of sports development ever match the "academy system"? Does it have some potential advantages?
IVES– DCD, it isn’t as if the college development model is in place by choice or preference. It just happens to be what has been available for all this time. I don’t think anybody argues that the academy model wouldn’t be better, but you need professional clubs with the resources and willingness to start investing in such programs in order for that to become a viable option. Far too many people want to criticize college soccer for what it isn’t rather than realizing that without it American soccer wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is now.
CFIG– I was willing to give Landin a chance to get into shape for the Dynamo but it looks like he's shown up this season about the same as last. Does he have a chance to make an impact, and if not who does Houston go to for their scoring threat? Ching is probably good for 10-15 goals but he could miss time for the World Cup. After that you have…Oduro?
IVES– The Luis Landin signing has become a bit of an embarrassment for Houston. Here’s a promising young talent who was expected to come in and be the start that could carry Houston in the wake of the departures of Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark. Now, he’s looking like he could be a flop. The Dynamo need another goal scorer because regardless of how he’s looking in pre-season I’m not at all convinced that Dom Oduro can be a productive forward once the MLS season begins.
I will say that the Dynamo have just signed a promising young academy player in Francisco Navas who looks like he could be a star in the making.
BRYAN– Baja Fresh or Chipotle?
Does Dempsey move to a (historically) "bigger" team or continue with Fulham? Would you like to see him leave? If so, where to?
Love the site!
IVES– Chipotle, not that I have either that often.
I think Dempsey stays at least one more year at Fulham. Then again, a strong World Cup could produce some transfer bids Fulham might have to consider. I like him at Fulham. He’s playing for a solid team with a great manager. Staying another year couldn’t hurt him.
DJBONUSBEATS– Where do you see Backe playing Jeremy Hall? I'd like to see him get more time at his natural position. Do you think Stammler can maintain his place this season with the new roster, or would Tchani push him out?
IVES– I think Hall has shown he’s a better fit in midfield, but with Jaager off to Norway, and Luke Sassano the only other current option, Hall may wind up at right back again.
As for central midfield, and whether Stammler can keep his place, I think Carl Robinson’s potential signing would be bad news for Stammler holding onto his job long term. I think Tony Tchani is being brought along slowly, but I can’t imagine him not eventually being a lock starter.
JOE– What do you think the chances of Charlie Davies scoring in League play for Sochaux are? High, low?
Besides @SoccerByIves, who would you recommend following on Twitter for top-notch soccer coverage?
IVES– I’d say the chances of Davies scoring in France being closer to high than to low.
As far as Twitter feeds to follow, I’d say Grant Wahl, Oliver Kay and Henry Winter are three good ones I can think of. There are plenty more. I'll add to this list later.
BIG CHIL- Hey, Ives, any plans for you & your staff to meet with your fans at the World Cup this summer?
IVES- I’ll definitely look into trying to do something like that around one of the United States matches.
REDSTATEJIM- Ives, Is SBI profitable?
Do you care about the personal lives of athletes ie Tiger, Terry, Cole, Harkes or do you only care about what they do in the arena?
IVES- Yes, SBI is profitable.
As for reporting on the personal lives of players, I’ve got no interest in it. If tabloids or TMZ ever decide they want to devote resources to that sort of stuff, they’re more than welcome. I have a hard enough time finding time to report on all the actual soccer-related news so I won’t be moonlighting as paparazzi any time soon.
Love the site, got a non-soccer related question…
Where do you think Lebron James winds up next year?
IVES- I see LeBron going to the Knicks, but that just might be my East Coast bias talking.
BRIAN- Who is the next American you see transferring to a elite European team?
IVES- Landon Donovan should make a major move this summer. I also think Michael Bradley will eventually make a major move, if not this summer, then in summer of 2011.
BRIAN B- Did Luis Gil make the wrong decision by signing with MLS over Arsenal given Arsenal's track record developing young talent?
IVES- I’ve been told by some pretty reliable sources that new FIFA guidelines would have made a move to Arsenal very tough, if not impossible, for Gil.
Even if that weren’t the case, I’m not sure why people should assume staying in MLS is a bad move. Was it a bad move for Jozy Altidore or Michael Bradley? Both were teenagers who eventually earned playing time that helped them develop into quality U.S. national team contributors.
Developing in Arsenal’s academy would surely have its benefits, but it shouldn’t be assumed that Gil can’t benefit from staying in MLS.
BCC- Ever thought of writing a book on soccer? What would it focus on (MLS, New York or New Jersey soccer, etc.)?
IVES- I’ve thought of writing a book before. It would probably focus on a specific player. I’m not sure a general book on MLS or a specific team would sell all that well. A compelling player story would be of interest to me as a book subject.
WILL-YO- Fox is really diving into soccer. EPL, Champs Lg, a second station, and now you. Are they making money or is it bet that built a house of cards that will come crumbling down?
IVES- Will, I wouldn’t bet against Fox when it comes to building an American soccer empire. My move was several months in the making and I made the move in part because of the plans they have in the works.
DING DONG- How many soccer games do you watch in the average week?
IVES- Anywhere from six to eight on the low end, to 12 to 15 on the high end, depending on the time of year. I try to watch parts of matches and highlights as well. TIVO helps get through a bunch of matches.