It's time to answer some of your questions from our recent Old School SBI Q&A, which was posted last week for those of you who missed it.
We have made the transition to Live Q&As on SBI, but once in while I will try to do an Old School Q&A, where readers can submit questions in the comments section for me to answer at a later date. This should help those of you who either miss our Q&As or who can't access them.
Now, onto the first batch of answers from the December Q&A. We touch on subjects ranging from Eric Lichaj to Stuart Holden, MLS Homegrown Players to Caleb Porter's future.
Here are Some of your Questions Answered:
Kydetwsoc-What do you think of Eric Lichaj progress? Starting in the Premier League is a good sign
IVES– I think he’s coming along very well and for a player his age to be dressing regularly and getting occasional appearances in the Premier League is invaluable. He’s got a bright future and looks like the heir apparent to Steve Cherundolo at right back.
Hincha Tim– Do you think that a FIFA calendar for the MLS is really feasible even in the middle-term? (I don't: weather/ going up against Football, basketball hockey vs. just baseball).
IVES– I just don’t buy it. I know there are many who want it and think it can work, but for the reasons you mention, and considering the fact the USA World Cup bid lost out on World Cup 2022 (appeasing FIFA was a key reason for MLS even considering it) I doubt a change happens any time soon, if ever.
KEVIN– Now that Akron has won the National Championship, which players do you expect to make the jump to the next level?
IVES– I’d say Kofi Sarkodie and Darlington Nagbe will leave school, while Perry Kitchen and Zarek Valentin certainly have the option and should leave. Darren Mattocks is another option but may wind up having to wait a year. Then again, if MLS doesn’t offer him a Generation adidas deal I could see him bolting to Europe.
JOE G– Which team in MLS will have the biggest turn around this year in either direction (Worst to first and vice versa.)?
IVES– I see Houston making a dramatic turnaround. I could also see Colorado crashing down to earth.
AJ– How do you find your staff writers? It seems like they move up the ranks pretty quickly. Is that because they were on the way themselves or do they get a huge boost from working on SBI?
IVES– I’ve been lucky to find some talented writers. For the most part they have reached out to me about writing and I’ve selected them based on their samples and the interview process. As for SBI writers going on to bigger and better things, I’d like to think we offer a vehicle for them to be read as well as a place where they can improve as writers. You still need to have some ability to begin with, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some good young writers.
DONTURTUCCIO– Do you believe NYRB owners when they say there will be no DP3?
IVES– Yes, I do. Ultimately, every team has to work under an MLS salary budget and already having two Designated Players on the cap means a third would leave the team with little wiggle room to improve. I think New York has shown with the signing of Joel Lindpere that having the ability to sign more reasonably-priced foreign players is a smart way to go.
The Dude– How long until Caleb Porter is coaching in MLS?
IVES– It’s really up to him. Having just signed a new contract extension with Akron, and knowing how much he enjoys coaching and teaching young players, I’d say Porter has at least three or four more years before we should begin thinking about him as a possible MLS head coach.
JD– Does the emergence of Stuart Holden and Eric Lichaj coupled with Specter's move to midfield force Bradley to reconsider a 4-4-2 formation? No one has stepped up to partner with Jozy unless you put Dempsey up top. A 4-2-3-1 seems to be the best formation to get the top players on the field.
IVES– Bradley has already begun moving in that direction and I think it’s fair to say we’ll be seeing more 4-2-3-1 going forward than 4-4-2. The wealth of talent in midfield and lack of quality forward options make it a no-brainer.
djemba_djemba813– What happens to players who aren't selected in either round of the re-entry draft? Are they retained by their current clubs or released?
IVES– They are free agents and free to talk to any teams in MLS as far as I know.
dino1er– Who do you think Chivas Usa should take with the #4 pick in the Superdraft………
After drafting Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski from Akron last year. someone from Akron that would be instant chemistry.
IVES– I’d go with either Omar Salgado, Kofi Sarkodie or Zarek Valentin. I would have said goalkeeper before the club recently signed a young goalkeeper.
Dank– As a reporter, you always have need to maintain a cordial working relationship with your subjects, but you also have to discuss their shortcomings in an honest fashion. Can you give us some of your thoughts on how to balance these against each other? Have you ever been denied an interview by a player or coach who was hurt by your criticism?
IVES– Dank, that’s a very good question. All you can do is try to be honest in your assessments and criticisms. At a certain point you have a job to do and if part of that job is to write opinion pieces then you have to criticize players. It’s up to them to accept that A) you have a job to do and B) you’re offering up your opinion. I think as long as you offer your honest opinion players need to understand it.
Do they all deal with criticism well? Certainly not. I’d say that coaches are WAY MORE understanding and accepting of criticism than players are, though there certainly are players who understand that we have jobs to do. It’s funny but I can think of a few players during my dozen years as a writer who I criticized and who really got upset about it despite the fact that I had written so many more positive pieces about them. All it takes is one critical piece sometimes for a player to suddenly think you’re against them. It’s a shame, but in the end I have a job to do.
As for whether I’ve been denied an interview by a player because of criticism it has happened a few times. I can remember one incident in particular involving Amado Guevara, who halted a group interview after a Honduras Gold Cup match when I showed up and insisted he wouldn’t continue the interview until I left. I laughed at him and walked away and, truth be told, it was one of the highlights of my career. What’s funny is that a year later, the next time I saw Guevara, I went right up to him and he gave me a hug. We were fine every time after that.
DAN THE MAN– Was Stuart Holden fully fit at the World Cup? I think you've mentioned before that even he said he wasn't, but wanted to get confirmation.
IVES– He was healthy, but not sharp because of his lack of playing time after being injured. Having talked to him last week, the impression I get is that Holden was healthy and could have played more, but wasn’t nearly as sharp as he is right now.
bleepblip– Is there enough talent in Canada to field 3 mls teams, or should we annex them–A ?
IVES– There is plenty of talent in Canada. The trick is getting that talent to stay in Canada rather than going to Europe. That’s a tough one given the salaries MLS teams pay, but there is talent up north to be sure. That said, MLS will have to consider reducing the number of Canadian players required on the rosters of Canadian teams.
MARLON– Is it possible that Tim Ream could start seeing sometime at leftback for the USMNT given his left footedness and the inability for anyone to hold down that spot?
IVES– He’s not an international caliber left back. I’m not sure he’d be an MLS caliber left back. Even Ream himself would acknowledge that fact. In fact, it was Ream’s awful half at left back on day one of the MLS Combine that I think led some teams to scratch him off or drop him down their draft boards.
NOSY– Home grown players—
what is exact definition of a home grown player?
If player is designated home grown player are they forced to "accept" the designation or can they refuse the designation and decide to take their chances in the Superdraft?
IVES– A homegrown player is a player who has spent at least a year (used to be two years) in an MLS academy program. A player knows when he signs up for an academy that by joining that academy they are working toward becoming an academy player. As for whether a player can refuse to sign with his original team and go straight into the draft, that’s a good question. From what I’ve always understood, teams have the first right to sign an underclassman who is otherwise considering signing a Generation adidas contract.
SeaOtter- Thanks Ives! I've been wondering when you'd venture back to the 'extended' Q&A's.
1)Since you've been taling up Darlington Nagbe, I've wondered: Is he US eligible?
2)Do you think that Stu Holden's success at Bolton will push Bradley further toward the 4-2-3-1, at least until we have the forward corps to make a 2 forward system a little more realistic for The U.S.?
IVES– As far as I know, Nagbe is NOT eligible to play for the United States. In fact, he's dealing with some immigration issues as we speak that need to be addressed before he can even be eligible for the 2011 MLS Draft. I'd bet on him being in the draft though.
As for Holden's success and whether that pushes Bob Bradley toward a 4-2-3-1, I think Bradley was already moving in that direction, as evidenced by the post-World Cup friendlies. Holden is definitely making that look like a wise decision because the wealth of central midfielders and lack of forwards make it pretty much a no-brainer to switch to a five-man midfield.