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It may be vacation time in SBI land, but that doesn't mean I can't find time to finish off the rest of the biggest Q&A in SBI history.
This installment includes questions about everything from U.S. prospects for 2014 to MLS expansion, promotion and relegation (yes, again) to preferred U.S. national team formations.
Now, onto part three of Your Questions Answered:
BEN REDMONDS- 1) Have you heard anything about Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin) lately? It seems like he'll get very little if not any playing time with Hertha. Do you see him joining any other European clubs anytime soon? If so, which ones? You think he might get a USMNT call in his career?
2) What do you think of the atmosphere of Portland? Do you think it is ready to have a MLS team? Last time I heard, Portland couldn't find the financial support to fund the renovation of PGE park. Is it still a go? (I sure hope so!)
IVES- 1. Nothing new has surfaced regarding Arguez, but he is a young prospect who didn’t really figure to see much playing time for one of the best teams in the Bundesliga last season. It’s only been one year with Hertha so I’m not sure they’re ready to cut bait just yet. That said, a loan for the upcoming season would make sense, like the loan Sal Zizzo just secured.
As for Portland, it’s certainly a passionate community that could work very well with Seattle. It would provide a natural rivalry and would help both markets. Last I heard on the financing for the stadium project was that the city council had approved funding.
HOMEY- When I hear European player salaries quoted in a certain amount per week, is that per week of the season, or per week all year around?
IVES- I’m pretty sure its all year round.
THAT JUST HAPPENED- 1. Why is it that Brian Mullan has not really had a good look with the national team. He just seems to have so many characteristics which lend him to being a really good addition to the US team.
IVES- Brian Mullan is a very good MLS midfielder, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in that, but if you consider that we just saw Davy Arnaud in Gold Cup do so-so and Mullan isn’t better than Arnaud I think we can say that Mullan is on the fringes and probably not likely to get a serious look at this point in his career.
JTD- When discussions of usmnt come up, why isn't Preki's name mentioned more often?
IVES- Not sure what you’re asking here. Why isn’t his national team career mentioned more, or why isn’t he mentioned more as a coaching candidate? With the playing career, I think he was just overshadowed by some other big names during his heyday .As for the second, he’s had a good start to his career, but there are plenty of MLS coaches ahead of him in the list of potential candidates to replace Bob Bradley.
MICHAEL F- Ives,
Thanks for the best site out there. I check it 20 times a day.
MLS makes player salaries public.
1. Any chance you can find outs how much USNT players get paid by their club teams?
2. Do you know if players get a percentage of their transfer fee and if so, what percentage?
IVES- 1. Can’t help you with that one. I know there are European-based websites that might have a clue about certain players’ wages, such as Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu, but teams and leagues aren’t obligated to divulge those figures.
2. Usually players get 10 percent of their transfer fees, but from what I understand, MLS players waive that fee or must agree to waive that free. Not sure that’s the case in every instance, but it does happen.
SMITS- 1.) Barring Garber taking more crazy pills than normal MLS promotion/relegation has ZERO chance of ever happening BUT if it did how cool would it be on a 1-10 scale (temporarily ignore the situation with your NYRB)
2.) Will/When will Stuart Holden and Arturo Alvarez get call-ups again?
3.) What do you think of Conan as Tonight show host?
IVES- Okay, first off, I’ve said it once and I’m not sure how many times I can say it. They’re not MY Red Bulls. I’m not a Red Bulls fan, never have been. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d say that promotion/relegation would be great, BUT you aren’t getting owners to agree to that. Why? Teams in other countries can survive relegation because they have strong and long-standing fanbases that help them survive the drop. Most MLS teams would risk financial death if they had to drop down to the USL.
2. Holden got his Gold Cup showcase and it went pretty well. Alvarez is a safe bet to play for El Salvador as soon as he is approved by FIFA.
3. Conan is funnier but Leno's skits were better. It's still early (and no, I really don't watch the Tonight Show that much.)
PREPPY- Do think that since soccer in the US is kind of a subculture like indie music, that if soccer ever does become mainstream, it will lose some of the current 'hardcore' fans (the way some people stop listening to a band when it gets to big because they're "sellouts" or whatever)?
Or is the soccer world big enough to accommodate those fans with obscure foreign leagues and such?
IVES- I think that exists to some degree, and there are certainly soccer snobs who don’t like casual fans, which I think is a bit dumb. Anyone taking an interest in the sport should be embraced, whether it’s somebody who only knows David Beckham or someone who can name you the starters for every G-14 club.
T- Which teams are trying to get cooper this summer an where do you think he'll go?
IVES- England has been the steady source of transfer rumors. Where will he go? Don’t know but I just hope he goes. He’s talented but I think he’s done what he’s going to do in MLS, and playing with a very young team and a coach who has spent far longer in the college game than the program may not be the deal situation for him to blossom as a player.
ALEX- Are there any examples in world football (or MLS/USMNT) you can think of where 2 players who play great together on the pitch are tight off it? I know Pirlo and Gattuso are chummy, but what about Xavi and Iniesta? Or Ferdinand and Vidic? Any other examples?
IVES- John Terry and Wayne Bridge is one pair of teammates I know is super close. They’re not teammates anymore but they’re BFF from what I’ve read. It can be a bit tough for pros to stay tight with friends as they get older and families get in the picture. There are plenty of close friendships in MLS, but that isn’t surprising when you have guys rooming three and four to an apartment. I know Joe Cannon/Landon Donovan is a close friendship, as is Jeremy Hall/Nick Zimmerman, a pair of guys who grew up playing youth soccer and are now roommates and teammates for the Red Bulls. I’m sure there are tons of examples in MLS.
EVAN- Hello Ives, great site
I was wondering which current young MLSers do you see being a factor for the 2014 World Cup, or even being a factor this cycle? Also, with Jermaine Jones switching to the US under the new FIFA ruling regarding national switching, which players do you see the US losing to other nations? (Alvarez, Findley, Buddle, Holden, etc.)
IVES- 2014? I’d go with Brek Shea, Chris Pontius, Rodney Wallace (once he gets his citizenship and declares for the USA), Anthony Wallace and Sam Cronin to name a few potential 2014 players.
ARKJAYBACK- I guess I'll ask again. Do you ever watch/like fan made highlight videos? I really have fun making them and I try to do them for the US Soccer fans out there. By the time you answer this I may have done one or two more, but these are some of the best I have done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3yuR_JLGf4
Like any of them?
IVES- Jay, I like fan videos if they’re good quality, as yours are, but I don’t spend much time looking for them. Now, if someone sends me one I’d be more inclined to look at it.
WEATHERMANNX01-Who do you think should be the next two expansion teams in MLS? Ottawa had seemed to be a popular proposal, but that seems to be dying off in terms of support (especially since the city seems to be leaning toward a CFL stadium over an MLS stadium). Meanwhile, Montreal is back in the hunt, and Jeff Cooper refuses to give up on St. Louis. Are those two cities the next best bets for expansion (whenever that may be)?
IVES-I’d say St. Louis and Montreal make the most sense to be teams 19 and 20. That said, it’s starting to become a bit absurd that there’s an MLS team in the south. Unfortunately there’s just not a strong enough ownership group down there.
ERIC GRIESHEIMER- With the news that Jermaine Jones wants to play for the US central midfield seems to be getting a little crowded. Obviously, you can never have enough depth due to injuries, card accumulation, and players being out of form but do you think we will need to adjust the formation to get our best players on the field? It is especially crowded if players like torres and feilhaber round into form, not to mention demarcus beasley.
How do they work these guys into the lineup next summer?
IVES- I don’t think Bob Bradley is going to run a 4-5-1 in order to get an extra midfielder on the field. I think it will just be a case of talented players pushing each other until the two best central midfielders emerge. Now, with someone like Feilhaber you could potentially see him used on the right (though that isn’t ideal) while someone like Stuart Holden can play anywhere in midfield. In the end, we are going to see some very talented players on the bench come World Cup 2010, and that’s not a bad thing.
DC96- Ives, thanks for the Q & A's! A site favorite–
If Bruce Arena is the Larry Brown(NBA) of Soccer, then Bob Bradley is the ___________?
And who would be our future Phil Jackson?
IVES- Bradley has to be Greg Popovich, a stern no-nonsense guy who actually has a sense of humor those who know him well can attest to. Someone who defends his players to the end and never throws his guys under the bus. I also think that, like Popovich, Bradley has gotten the most out of the U.S. team’s top players, like Landon Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu.
JOHN- Any updates on Juan Carlos Toja in Romania? He kind of fell of the radar. Do you think it was a smart move or do you see him coming back to MLS?
IVES- No new news on Toja but considering he got to play in the UEFA Champions League last year I’m thinking it was a good move for him. Do I see him returning to MLS? Nope, not really.
SEISCO- 1)How much disparity is there between the USL and MLS? After attending some Rochester USL games in person I don't think it's exactly top notch soccer.
2)Did something happen between Torres and Bob Bradley? Was he injured? Personally, I thought he was the lone bright spot against Costa Rica, only to see him subbed out at the half.
IVES- 1. Here’s how I’ll compare MLS to USL. If you take the top four or five players off most MLS teams, what you will have let is something comparable to a USL team, with the players being pretty close in ability. This is why USL teams can hold their own, because the MLS salary cap keeps teams from stockpiling talent, which then forces clubs to spend a good chunk of the cap on those top-end players.
2. Bradley said Torres needed a break, and Torres agreed. The fact that Torres isn’t playing in Pachuca’s pre-season and Champions League fixtures makes you wonder just how he’s doing, and it also makes Bradley’s decision not to use him after the Costa Rica match a bit less controversial.
WIN- If the SBI roll call was the sole criteria for adding new MLS teams, what unrepresented metropolitan areas would be at the top of the list for recieving a new team.
IVES- I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t finished off the SBI roll call data collection, but I will say that markets with strong soccer followings in non-MLS markets include: Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Austin, Texas and Atlanta to name a few.
YO- Do you see the 4-5-1 as a possible lineup for the MNT? Jones (if he joins the MNT), Bradley, and Feilhaber as the central midfield, and Donovan and Dempsey on the wings, with Altidore up top?
IVES- To play a 4-5-1 you really need a quality target striker, someone who can collect the ball, hold it up and make the passes to the teammates running off him. Altidore isn’t that kind of player. In fact, as it stands, Brian Ching is the only forward who can do that effectively (Conor Casey might, but I don’t see him being a national team starter. This is why I don’t think we’ll see a 4-5-1. A 4-4-2 makes the most sense going forward, wealth of midfield riches notwithstanding.
CONNOR B- LA is getting better all the time and the Beckham Farewell Tour 1.0 Â® is fast approaching. Beckham has a history of playing well when people doubt him (Madrid and England after signing with the Galaxy and again in Milan the past few months) what are the chances of a glorious run to MLS Cup paving the way for a Beckham return in the future?
I for one think that LA will be a threat this year, if Arena can manage Beckham maybe the second half of this season will be what MLS always hoped and dreamed of…
IVES- Well Connor, when you wrote this LA wasn’t looking too good. In the time since, LA has pushed its way to a 4-0-1 stretch and a hold on a playoff spot. The Galaxy is absolutely capable of making an MLS Cup run, but if anything, I think that paves the way for Beckham to leave.
T.Z0N3- Ives, you're a great writer. Thanks for keeping this blog up.
In terms of US soccer, where are we? Have we gone DOWN from 2002? Or was it a fluke? CONCACAF competitions are hard for us to score in anymore, it seems. We can't measure up against real opponents.
IVES- I think the U.S. player pool is stronger and deeper than in 2002 and the talent of the top U.S. players is above that of the 2002 group. If you’re talking about MLS, that’s another discussion. I think MLS teams will always struggle in CONCACAF Champions League because their lack of depth.
BECKSTER- Ives, thanks for the great site.
(1) Apparently a couple of EPL teams interested in Gouch. Given the Newcastle problems, do you think the EPL is the best place for him? Can he be successful there with the speed?
(2)As many of us expected, placing Convey in an attacking mid role was a disaster. Before his recent hamstring problem, though, he had one suberb game. Do you think he will stay with San Jose? What should he do to get back on the MNT roster?
IVES- 1. Onyewu is at AC Milan, and I think the move is better than any he could have made in England.
Convey is such an injury risk that it’s tough to think about him really recapturing his top form. Yes, he’s still young, but his body has broken down repeatedly. Once he shows he can stay healthy for an extended period of time then maybe he gets back into the national team picture
ADAM M. Assume that National teams were like club teams and could buy players from anywhere and work the transfer markets at will starting tomorrow. Who would be the best team in the world by the 2010 World Cup? What would be a rational investment? Who is the best player that would no longer play for his home nation because he was replaced by someone better?
IVES- Adam, you have way too much time on your hands. Your scenario doesn’t work on any rational level and it’s hard for me to play along with something so incomprehensible.
I’ll try to play along though. Some players who could fetch big fees as they sought larger roles (and were okay with turning their backs on their native countries, which wouldn’t really happen) include: Cesc Fabregas, Pepe Reina and Dani Alves. On a more reasonable scale, if I were U.S. Soccer I’d go after Gonzalo Segares, who is the best left back in MLS but not a starter on Costa Rica’s A Team. These are all players who don’t start for their national teams because of depth at their positions. I won’t even try and get into the whole, “What if country X could just spend X to buy a player from his national team” thing. That’s plain nonsense.
ALTICOOPER- If you were Spector why wouldnt you try and go to a team were they need a Left Back and and can play there on a consistant basis. I know he prefers playing on the right side but with the whole the USNT has at left back why not try and lock that position down at the club level and then (assuming we dont get Castillo) that would be his spot for the next ten years with the national team. It kills me to see the depth at right back and with him still fairly young it makes the most sense to switch over especially when he is naturally left footed and can push forward alright… What is your take on it?
IVES- I think Spector would be crazy to leave West Ham right now. He’s playing for a good EPL team with a respected head coach who rates him as a player. I also think he has proven himself to be the leading candidate for the starting right back spot after his Confederations Cup performance.
SUPERCHIVO- Ives, I am hearing so many people whine and moan about the poor support the US gets here and wanting to have the US play in BFE in front a few thousand all American fans just to keep the Latino immigrants from supporting their teams. Yet, the money collected from these matches goes to the USSF no matter which team is being supported. This is money that I imagine goes toward paying our players, coaches, staff, and helps support the youth programs.
In your opinion, is US Soccer correct in hosting matches at venues like Soldier Field that make a ton of money but doesn't give the US much support?
IVES- I don’t think USSF should avoid markets because the crowds might have more opposing fans. That wouldn’t be fair to fans in those markets, which happen to usually be some of the country’s biggest markets. Yes, the money made from games in these markets does help the USSF coffers, but in the end I think it’s only fair to soccer fans in places like Chicago, New York and LA to have games there too even if it could lead to tons of opposing fans at U.S. games.
That said, I’m all for keeping the Mexico rivalry in Columbus.
Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these answers in the comments section below.