Good afternoon and welcome to the Snowstorm Edition of Your Questions Answered. If you're fresh from shoveling some snow, or stuck at work wondering how the drive home will be, you probably need something to help pass the time.
With that in mind, here is the first installment of the answers from the most recent SBI Q&A. We cover everything from Beckham to USA-Mexico aftermath to World Cup seeding to best episode of The Office to what a U.S. national team might look like if it were made up of pro athletes from other sports (assuming they had grown up playing soccer):
Let's get it started. Enjoy:
ANTHONY- Ives, my father likes watching soccer with me and even visited me to watch U.S.-Mexico at the infamous Mulligan's in Hoboken, NJ with an English friend of mine (who's a Man U fan – but that's a joke for another day). When I explain the process of where each player plays professionally, he looks at me confusingly. How can I simplify this explanation?
IVES- Just tell him that instead of there being just one great league for soccer, there are great leagues in a bunch of different countries so the world’s best players are spread out all over Europe. Some folks can’t fathom a sport where all the best players aren’t in the same league, playing together.
GOFIREGO- 1. will Marquez be punished with a suspension of more than 1 game for his karate kick on Tim Howard? 2. will FIFA punish Paco Ramirez for bitch-slapping Frankie Hejduk? The Mexican federation head Justino Compean said they will ask FIFA not to extend the Marquez suspension because "he is one of the best players in the world." He is remaining as captain, despite calls to remove him. Compean also claims Ramirez apologized to Hejduk, Hejduk accepted the apology and he says he spoke to Sunil Gulati, who told him that the US Soccer Fed is not going to press the matter.
IVES- 1. I have to believe Marquez will see more than the one game suspension that comes with the red. I’d bet on three games. As for Ramirez, I think a minimum of three games is justified for his act of stupidity.
DOMINICK- One of the genuine frustrations of being a 'Nats fan is the lack of an iconic Uniform! Which uniform do you think was the best ever for the Men's team? Also, any chance SBI could do a design contest like one done for the banner? thanks for the site–I check it every day.
IVES- I’ve been making the argument for a standard uniform for some time. One problem is that most of the good color schemes that would work for the United States are already linked with other countries. I personally think that the navy blue jerseys worn in the 2002 World Cup were the best of the bunch and should have been kept. I know Scotland is known for navy blue uniforms, but I think the U.S. team could establish its own look. That said, the current white shirt with navy pants look isn’t bad, even though it is a bit of a knock-off of England’s color scheme.
JOE K- Do you think that Van Den Bergh's mistake that led to the second Columbus goal in the MLS Cup had anything to do with his desire to leave?
IVES- I don’t think that play had any impact on anything that happened. I also don’t think Van Den Bergh really wanted to leave New York, at least not until after the 2008 season was already over.
BRANDEN- With TFC picking up in midfield (De Ro) and striker (Vitti) but actually weakening in what was an atrocious defence last year(losing Marshall and James), do you see them going with three at the back, and possibly playing two holding midfielders (in Robbo and Cronin)?
IVES- Picking up Adrian Serioux gives TFC an upgrade over Marshall and I’m hearing that Toronto is closing in on a big center back. As for Toronto using a three-man defense, John Carver doesn’t strike me as someone who will imply a three-man defense that much. I think we will see our share of 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 from Toronto this year.
JASON- 1.Since Kasey Keller has not "officially" retired from the USMNT, do you see him making it back into the side, if he has a strong 1st half of the MLS season with Seattle? 2.Which former USMNT players could you see as USMNT coach in the future?
IVES- That’s a good question. This summer will certainly offer an opportunity for Keller to play for the United States, what with the Gold Cup squad likely to consist of mostly MLS players. I could see Keller being a starter in that tournament, especially if Brad Guzan takes part on the Confederations Cup.
JC- Do you think that bidders who are interested in an MLS team might feel the $40 million expansion fee will be too high if Beckham is no longer in the league?
IVES- I think bidders are feeling the pinch of that $40 million price tag regardless of what Beckham is doing and I really don’t see an ownership group shifting their attention away from MLS because they won’t get that one home game draw with Beckham.
MIKE- Ever think about doing a live Q & A? The Cover It Live software seems to work pretty well on other sites. The only problem I guess would be that you probably wouldn't be able to get to everything unless you sat here for hours on end.
IVES- The Q&A tool used for the ESPN Soccernet chat was great and I might be doing another live chat for ESPN before the start of the season. I do want to eventually switch to a live Q&A at some point.
HOMEY- If you were in charge at FIFA, how would you allocate the World Cup spots to the various confederations? In other words, how many spots would each confederation get?
IVES- I think the current distribution is fair in terms of trying to get a good representation of the entire world at the event. I do think Europe could use another spot and I might take away CONCACAF and CONMEBOL’s half spots to create that extra spot.
BUBBLEHOUSE- If michael bradyley's team is relegated does he make or move or actually play in bundesliga 2?
IVES- If Moenchengladbach is relegated, Michael Bradley will not be playing in Bundesliga 2. I’d bet the house on that one.
MENTZ- Do you think you'll see a large drop in attendance across the board in MLS if Beckham ultimately decides to stay with Milan? I can imagine the Galaxy's sales to slump. Hopefully his appearance in MLS has a lasting affect of MLS awareness and has created more US Soccer fans, but I was just curious what you thought.
IVES- Not having Beckham would obviously impact the 30 games he would play in, but I think the numbers being drawn in by Beckham went down a good amount in year two and probably would have gone down again in year three. I’m not sure the league’s other 14 teams would feel the pinch as much as people think. Seattle and Toronto are two clubs who will still sell tons of tickets for their LA games so that leaves 12 road games where MLS teams will see five-figure losses in potential ticket sales. I have a feeling MLS teams will look for ways to counterattack the impact of those losses on their totals, such as schedule one or two more doubleheaders with high-profile friendlies.
JACOB A.- We talk all the time about what would happen if our best athletes chose soccer, what would that team look like? LeBron up top? Chris Paul (although he whines a lot) as the playmaker? Kobe on the wing? Dwight Howard in the center of the defense? Let's have some fun!
IVES- I wrote this column at least seven years ago where I put together a Best XI of non-soccer players. Here’s the group I’d trot out there now (and yes, I am fully aware that soccer is a game where technical ability means more than athletic ability, but this is just for fun folks so please don’t take it too seriously):
————-Adrian Peterson—————Randy Moss ————–
Devin Hester———————————————–Chad Johnson
Asante Samuel——-Ed Reed——Kobe Bryant—-Champ Bailey
Chad Johnson makes the cut for actually having played soccer as a kid.
HINCHA TIM- As usual, doing a great job from my Utah perspective! Hope to see you out here for the all-star game, word on the street is that the team may be Inter Milan. Do you think that the pretty good TV ratings for the Mexico-USMNT are significant enough that the TV execs took note and may effect future decisions, or not significant enough to have any significant effect?
IVES- Hey Tim, thanks for checking in. I’m not sure about the All-Star game for me, although I’ll leave that one up to ESPN. As for the USA-Mexico ratings, I think those ratings have helped boost confidence in networks like ESPN, which have invested heavily in soccer and in trying to increase the sport’s visibility. I know some folks have plenty of issues with ESPN, but the network really is putting some effort for soccer on the broadcast side.
SMOREBS- I know may NY fans will not want to hear this but, what is Claudio up to now? Is he still with RBNY in any shape or form? Also, do you see Osorio using an 4-3-3 this year, with such speed on the wings?
IVES- Not sure what Claudio Reyna is up to aside from securing his coaching licenses and serving as a New York Red Bulls ambassador. I will try to catch up with him at some point in the coming weeks and months.
ROBO- Do you think the Red Bulls will have one of the fastest if not the fastest attacks in MLS this year. With the additions of Kandji, Mbuta, and Oduro to existing speedsters like Richards and Borman, do you think this could be the year we see more consistent offensive output from our attack? Do you think Angel is poised to make a push for Roy Lassiter's single season goals record with the new supporting cast being here for a full season? Thanks Ives, love the site, it's the best!
IVES- The Red Bulls just might have the fastest team in league history. I know one of the criticisms going around about the collection of Red Bulls speedsters it is that many of them lack the skill and finishing ability to be true impact player. To that I say No Shizzle My Nizzle. If Dominic Oduro was a deadly finisher he would be in the EPL making six figures a week with the speed he has. Same can be said for Dane Richards as well. Here’s the thing about guys like Oduro, Khano Smith, Mac Kandji and Matt Mbuta. They all have qualities that could help them develop into impact players. Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio firmly believes that he can coach them to be better and help them all reach their peak potential.
DOUG- If you were in charge of a new MLS franchise, what coach would be your first choice to build it? Seattle went with Sigi. Me, I'd be tempted to pry Yallop away from SJ. You?
IVES- That’s a tough one. I would go with the team of Mo Johnston and Steve Nicol. Johnston is a master of making good deals and Nicol has a keen eye for talent. I think that duo could build a championship team. A Peter Vermes-Dom Kinnear tandem could be good as well. Then you have Bruce Arena, who has done well pre-and-post U.S. national team of compiling impressive talent.
ERIC GRIESHEMER- How does the US get seeded in the WC? How did Mexico get seeded ahead of us in the last WC? What is the formula for how FIFA decides this?
IVES- The U.S. team is very unlikely to be seeded in 2010. The formula just doesn’t help the Americans. The formula for seeding weighs the past two World Cup performances, with the 2006 World Cup carrying two-thirds of the value in that category.
As for Mexico, it was seeded in 2006 because the seeding system was perfectly suited for ‘El Tri’. Reaching the second round of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and having a consistently high FIFA ranking the previous three years, Mexico will suffer in the 2010 seeding process because the changes in the way FIFA rankings are done have dropped Mexico considerably. Without the high FIFA ranking in place to counter Mexico’s streak of second-round World Cup exits, Mexico is unlikely to be in contention for a seed.
SYS- Is a beckham for schevhenko swap realistic. Why is he still wasting away on milan's bench? Will he ever come to MLS? Will the sounders be the best expansion team yet? I'm not really counting chicago since the league was really small at that paticular time? love the site
IVES- The whole Beckham transfer saga has devolved into a mess and anybody still thinking Milan will trade an eight-figure fee AND a player like Shevchenko for Beckham isn’t being very realistic. Shevenchko would be a great addition to MLS, though I have not been impressed by how he has looked in the few times I’ve seen him this season. Seattle is a very promising team, but the 98 Chicago Fire was a very strong team and a balanced team. The Sounders could wind up boasting the best offense we’ve ever seen an expansion team have, but the title of best expansion team ever will remain with Chicago.
MATT- If Donovan doesn't stay at Bayern, do you think he's done enough to garner interest elsewhere in Europe? And if so, where you could you see him going?
IVES- I think it’s fair to say Donovan has shown more in this European stint than his previous ones. He showed a comfort level that should show European clubs that Donovan is ready to come and contribute. Some Donovan critics might argue that he didn’t show much in this stint but I don’t think that’s true.
RYAN- Most NFL and NBA stadiums are built with a ~15-20 year "shelf life" before a new stadium is needed to stay current with competing stadiums. How long do you think this current round of stadiums will last before we see second generations being built? Do you foresee MLS games ever demanding more than a 20-30k seat capacity?
IVES- When will MLS teams be ready to move onto their second stadiums? That probably won’t be happening for a while. It should also be noted that some of the newer stadiums are capable of being expanded.
JACOB A- And, not necessarily for Ives, but does anyone have any idea as to how the ticket sales for the Nashville game are going?
IVES- The number I was given is 10,000 as of Monday.
EDB- With the attacking players Seattle has, do you think they have a chance to be the best expansion team since the Fire?
IVES- Yes, Seattle could be the best expansion team since the ’98 Fire.
KAHLVA- 1) What do the Red Bulls lack currently? Center back? Playmaker? 2) Chances of transfer at the current time: Beckham. Donovan. (I realize this may be moot by the time you answer) Thanks Ives! Your site, as always, rocks.
IVES- 1. The Red Bulls need a left back and a center back. Rojas will be the club’s playmaker and someone who I think could have a big second season in MLS after a disappointing half season in 2008. 2. Beckham- 10-1, Donovan- 1,000,000-1
GILBY- Why don't we see more of top MLS keepers going to the MFL rather than Scandinavia? The pay is roughly the same and it seems like every time I watch the MFL the goal keeping is pretty bad. I know guys like Guzan and Howard are always going to shoot for a top euro league. But for a Perkins, Cannon, or Conway the MFL seems like it would be a nice boost in both competition and pay.
IVES- Good question Gilby. I’m not sure how many of the former MLS goalkeepers to leave the league have seriously considered Mexico or even had it as an option. I think goalkeepers like Brad Friedel, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan were always going to go to Europe but I think players like Troy Perkins see Europe as a destination with better opportunities and potential than the Mexican league.
ROSS- Ives, with the recent disbanding of the reserve league in MLS, what do you think the ultimate strategy towards MLS player development will be? Have you ever heard this discussed by MLS personnel? To me, the country is too big for MLS to solely rely on their academies, so, assuming league growth and profitability, would they every incorporate the traditional US idea of farm teams, possibly using USL teams, or is that idea too far-fetched.
IVES- It's really a confusing situation. MLS teams are investing in player development programs, but shrinking rosters make it tougher for teams to find room for prospects. Using lower-division clubs as farm teams makes perfect sense really, but again, keeping a players contract and loaning them out would circumvent the current 24-man roster (let's face it, nobody is going to loan players out and reduce their numbers below 24. A good alternative would be a 26-man roster with two developmental loan slots. You can take two players and send them out on loan while still having them under contract.
HOKIE UNITED- Off topic question. Assuming you saw The Office after the Super Bowl….. greatest Office episode ever?
IVES- It was VERY good but best ever is tough to call. Gay Witch Hunt was amazing, as was Diversity Day.
MIKE- Do you think it's time for Don Garber to step aside and get new blood and a new vision for MLS in the Front Office? The league seems to be coming a critical phase (more expansion, CBA, etc) and I wonder if someone else would offer a better chance of growth.
IVES- Considering the league’s growth and success on the business side I’m not sure why MLS would want Garber to go right now. It is going to be interesting to see how MLS copes with the loss of Ivan Gazidis to Arsenal, but for right now I’m not sure you can justify a change at the top of the league.
AP- Ives – Who is the best young American soccer player that most of us have never heard of?
IVES- That depends on your level of knowledge. The die-hard fans know every single American player in Europe, while the casual fans only know top national team players. I would say forward Preston Zimmerman is a player not all U.S. fans know about. He is a Hamburg player currently on loan with Austrian club Kapfenberg.