It is time to answer your soccer-related questions (and a dash of pop culture questions) in the latest SBI Q&A.
Most of the questions selected were U.S. men’s national team related, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the excitement following the winning of two trophies (and beating Mexico twice) this summer.
Among the topics covered are players who could make transfer moves this summer, players who could play their way into the World Cup qualifying picture, and what the future holds for players such as Matthew Hoppe and Paxton Pomykal.
One thing to point out is that just because a question wasn’t chosen doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good question. Some questions that were asked are related to topics I intend to cover with specific articles in the near future, and therefore didn’t want to get into in a Q&A.
With that in mind, here is the SBI Q&A for August, with Your Questions Answered:
JOHN: If you are Berhalter do you rest some players against El Salvador? Any chance he even leaves some players in the US to save them from having to travel?
IVES – Gregg Berhalter has said he would have a larger-than-normal camp so if we’re talking somewhere from 28 to 30 players I don’t see all those players traveling to El Salvador. That said, I do not see any of the top USMNT players missing the El Salvador match. It’s important to start the qualifying cycle with a strong performance so I see the first-choice XI being deployed in the opening match in El Salvador.
ANDREW – What was the name of the American center back that played for Norwich a few years back ,who hardly ever got a call up even though Norwich was in the premiership at the time? I hope this does not happen to Sargent.
IVES – Zak Whitbread was the player. Born in Houston but grew up in England. He was part of the U.S. Under-20s and also played in the failed 2004 U.S. Olympic qualifying squad. Whitbread did earn a USMNT call-up, in 2011, but an injury suffered while with Norwich City kept him from being able to join the USMNT. I doubt you’ll have to worry about Sargent never getting a call-up.
NATE GLASS – The number of Americans making moves to Europe seems off the charts over the past 12-18 months. Is this a “golden generation”, a byproduct of the development academies, or something else?
IVES – This is indeed a Golden Generation, there has never been a group like this before in American soccer history and there are multiple factors at play. You have the development academy playing a part, but you also have more young Americans being willing to make the jump to Europe and more European clubs being willing to take chances on American players, where that wasn’t as prevalent a thing a decade ago.
It isn’t as though there weren’t Americans in Europe then, but now you’re seeing Americans heading to Europe at much younger ages. I also think the fact MLS teams are more willing to take chances on young players is leading to younger and younger players being able to develop that much more quickly, like a Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie.
TEJANA – Are more than 4 (!!!) measly Bundesliga games per year going to be shown on ESPN / ESPN2 this season, and if not, shouldn’t we all just boycott the entire network?
IVES – ESPN+ is the best value in television, so rather than complaining about ESPN and ESPN2 not showing more soccer games consider just how many games you are able to watch online for $6 a month.
JUAN FROM LA – Will bidens new policy of letting just vaccinated people from outside affect the qualifiers, in benefitting the US when teams from carribean, Central america visit?
IVES – It’s going to be interesting to see what sort of waivers/exceptions there will be for foreign athletes traveling to the USA to compete. It wouldn’t be very sporting if teams were stripped of players. As it stands, it won’t be much of an issue until October since Canada is the only visiting team playing a qualifier in the USA, so Jamaica and Costa Rica have plenty of time between now and October to sort out the vaccination situation. I don’t know for a fact that Canada’s entire team is vaccinated, but given Canada’s thorough and aggressive approach to handling COVID I would imagine Canada’s team has a higher-than-normal rate of vaccinated players.
BENJAMIN M. GREY – The USMNT has recently been able to court and retain some great duel nationals (John Brooks, Sergino Dest), but we seem to be losing the battle for Mexican Americans. I still believe there is a wealth of talent that could benefit the USMNT. Is the USSF mishandling this? Will this trend continue?
IVES – The reality is that there are a handful of Mexican-Americans weighing their options and it’s a situation that bears watching, especially if the USA starts losing more of those players than wind up choosing the USA.
As it stands, David Ochoa has yet to announce his decision while Julian Araujo and Ricardo Pepi have yet to make their decisions. If all of those players wind up choosing Mexico, then you have to start asking some real questions, but what needs to be made clear is that it is okay for players to weigh options and consider both teams if they feel some connection to both teams. Obviously in some cases a player will make a choice based on where they see more of a chance to play, but it would be much tougher to explain away a full-blown trend if MOST Mexican-American players choose Mexico. At that point there will be some serious questions for U.S. Soccer to answer.
VIK – Given this exciting group of USA talent coming up, what are realistic expectations for the 2026 WC on home soil?
IVES – It’s still too early to say for sure, but I would argue that the World Cup semifinals would be a heck of an accomplishment. I get that some folks want to talk about WINNING the World Cup and to that I would say until the USMNT has a dozen players featuring prominently and playing key starting roles on the very best teams in the world, talk about winning the whole thing is just unrealistic hype. Of course, two years from now if we have that dozen players not only AT the Bayerns-Man United-Real Madrids-Juventus’ but starring then it will feel a bit less like wishful thinking.
DOWN IN TEXAS – What are you binge watching now and days.
IVES – I finally got around to watching Ted Lasso and absolutely loved it. I have also been giving How to Make it In America a re-watch, a very underrated HBO show.
PAPI SHMPOO – What do you think about Hernan Losada’s impact on DC United?
IVES – It’s hard to argue with that hiring being a successful one. D.C. United is playing an attractive style and you can argue Losada is helping get the most out of a young squad. I’ll readily admit that when he was hired I wasn’t sure about the selection, but right now D.C. United is looking pretty good for picking him.
JASON CRETACCI – Where do you see Paxton Pomykal in the pecking order amongst the MF & how long do you think it will take before he is on a WCQ roster?
IVES – I have never been quite as high on Pomykal as some other people. Clearly there are fans who love him and his game, but I honestly have always felt like there has been a bit of overhyping of his game. He has talent, there’s no denying that, but I feel like he’s a good bit behind the pack in the USMNT midfield pool. Obviously injuries set him back for a good while, and he’s now working his way back and showing some good signs, but I’m not sure he’ll be a factor in World Cup qualifying anytime soon.
MISTER JCTX – Which MLS club will Messi play for, and when? I don’t see NY City because of the baseball stadium situation. I don’t see Miami because of the scandal. Whatever team it is, I believe it happens sooner rather than later…
IVES – Messi will play wherever in MLS he wants to play, and I doubt highly that two years from now anybody’s going to be talking about Miami’s shady handling of contracts. If Messi wants to play in Miami then MLS will make it happen. I think Miami makes the most sense, both in terms of being somewhere I can see Messi wanting to settle his family and also Miami’s status as a very Latin American market. I’d love him to play in New York but don’t see it happening, and he doesn’t strike me as an LA type. He won’t play in America until 2023 at the earliest though.
DCP – Matthew Hoppe was the most interesting (not best) player on the Gold Cup roster for me. He seems to have a lot of potential and could bring a bit of personality to a forward group that at times seems a bit flat, but, as it currently stands, I assume that he would be on the outside looking in for a potential world cup squad. Assuming the US qualifies, where do you think Hoppe could fit for a full world cup squad and what would he need to do over the next year and half to get there?
IVES – Hoppe needs to make a good transfer move this summer that helps him develop in a tough league. The German second division isn’t going to cut it if he’s going to stay in the USMNT picture during qualifying. Hopefully the rumors linking him to the Premier League pan out and he can land somewhere in England, but even if he can settle somewhere in the Bundesliga I think he has the talent to do well there.
Hoppe does bring some unique qualities and if he can continue to sharpen his game he could absolutely make the World Cup team, but first thing’s first, he has to leave Schalke.
BEN R – Who are the next 5 MLS based American players that you see moving to Europe?
IVES – If we’re talking players who haven’t already secured moves (ala Caden Clark) here’s five to consider and yes, it has a heavy Gold Cup feel to it: Miles Robinson, George Bello, Matt Turner, James Sands, Eryk Williamson.
As far as NON-Gold Cup Americans, here’s five: Cole Bassett, Cade Cowell, Justin Che, Kevin Paredes, Kyle Duncan
JOHNNY RAZOR – Who of the players that did not play NL or GC do you think makes a qualifying roster this fall? Konrad, CCV, Luca, Caden Clark, etc…
IVES – Konrad De La Fuente and Julian Green are the leading candidates to be involved in qualifying after missing out on the summer tournaments. It will be tough for Cameron Carter-Vickers to break in, and I’m not sure Luca De La Torre can make up the ground he lost on the other central midfielders. Caden Clark is interesting, but I don’t think we see him until 2022, once he’s with RB Leipzig and establishes himself there.