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Leagues: MLS

Q&A July 3rd

Eloping Camel asked

1. Open Cup – I love your thoughts on expanding the Open Cup so that the “fringe” teams in the nation get more of a chance in earlier rounds, and then get the non-playoff MLS teams in the second round. How does one go about suggesting that to the powers that be? Would they listen if enough of the soccer fandom of the states wanted it (and were vocal about that)? Granted, not too many seem to care about the Open Cup, but I can dream right?

2. USL – Is there any chance that the Nike-infused USL could grow big enough to rival MLS in future years? Could this eventually lead to a merger of the leagues (I think most of the other major sports leagues in our nation have gone through similar mergers of two “rival” leagues)?

Let me take the second question first. Within some USL circles the hope is that they will rival MLS, and be sort of like the AFL was to the NFL in the 1960s. Will this happen? I think it’s doubtful, for a full fledged merger as long as Charleston, Rochester and Minnesota are in USL-1. What may happen is some of the bigger USL markets as we have seen with Seattle already and could see with Vancouver, Miami, Portland, Atlant and Montreal will have MLS teams eventually which retain portions of its USL front office and/or nicknames. So it would be more like the ABA which folded teams towards the end and then merged with the NBA once only its largest and strongest markets were left. (Virginia and Kentucky were the final two ABA teams dumped before the NBA merger.) Now the question is if we had a merger would we get relegation and promotion allowing USL-1 to essentially be a second division? I’m guessing no, because the franchise fees paid by investors is too high for anyone to ever have second division team. What could transpire is MLS I and MLS II with no relegation beyond MLS II. Still a shaky concept in this part of the world but something worth thinking about.

I think you’re first question is on the money and needs to be addressed directly to US Soccer. This year alone I’ve seen a huge spike in the interest the Open Cup is generating. USL has helped with that through their broadband package, USL Live. The other night for example I saw a portion of the majority of matches, and was able to give real time scoring updates something not even possible last year, let alone in 2000 when my (former) favorite club the Miami Fusion made the US Open Cup Final.

Kiwi Yank asked

Does Arturo Alvarez have a National Team future? How about Robbie Rogers?

If it were up to me, yes. But Bradley and Nowak don’t seem to rate Alvarez highly while Rogers disappointingly was not called in for any of the recent friendlies or qualifiers. Rogers should push for an Olympic Team spot but I believe Nowak prefers using Corey Ashe or Stuart Holden out wide on the left side and Sal Zizzo on the right.

Fandom asked:

a) Would Steve Nicol or Paul Mariner do a good job leading the national team?

b) Why do we recyle the same coaches for our national teams when we clearly have the ability to hire some good coaches with connections to MLS or USL who played here and are now coaching?

Yes, Nicol and Marnner as a team would do quite well in my opinion.

Fandom, on the second question your guess is as good as mine. You’ve probably heard Denholm and myself take this issue on many times and we still have no answers.

Joe asked:

What is the latest on Nevon Subotic and Torres from Pachuca?

Are they still possibilities to play for the US at the senior level?

Subotic played for the US at the youth national team level but seems to prefer playing for Bosnia at the senior level. Really a shame for the US if that happens. Torres has had some contact with Nowak and Bradley but his stated preference remains to play for Mexico.

Roger asked:

What is the future of Benny Feilhaber at Derby County and in the national team? Will he be at the Olympics?

Feilhaber remains a creative technical midfielder whose skill set doesn’t match the biases of most British managers. That’s why he’s struggled at Derby County. He should have sought another club in the Bundesliga or a move to Spain/Italy when he wanted to leave Hamburg. My fear is that players like Feilhaber are getting bad advice from their agents who are seeking the high commission fees of signing in the world’s richest league without looking out for the welfare of their clients. I have no clue who Feilhaber’s agent is, but I can tell you when he signed there I was concerned because as I have pointed out time and time again our youngsters more often than not have trouble in England, and Feilhaber has already developed a more latinized style of play which will hardly ever fits in at a club outside the big four or London.

He’s too skilled and talented to not be part of the US setup going forward. We are not exactly blessed with many players of his technical ability.

IZZY asked

Whatever happened to John O’Brien? Any chance he’ll play again? What about Cory Gibbs?

John O’Brien, one of the most technically gifted American players ever retired from pro soccer without ever formally announcing it. This month’s MLS Magazine has an outstanding interview with him. He is playing beach soccer currently. His last competitive match was the US’ loss to the Czech Republic in Germany 2006.

Cory Gibbs is finally healthy and is looking for a new club. If he can get regular playing time, he should be a factor for the US going forward in qualifying and for South Africa 2010.

Are any teams going to use a DP slot during this summer transfer window?

Possibly Toronto on one of a number of players. Shola Ameobi has been reported as a possibility on MLS Rumors.

However, Ameobi seems to be an unrealistic target for this league. He’s been injured alot but he’s still in his twenties and is highly thought of in England, even featuring regularly on “I’m on Setanta Sports.”

His signing would surprise me, but would be no doubt a good move.

I had heard talk of Zinha the Brazilian born, naturalized Mexican moving to San Jose. But nothing recently on that.

Otherwise, I think the DP slots will not be used this summer and in many cases the fascination with the rule has died down and MLS clubs are simply trying to use the increased recognition the initial DPs got the league to sign good mid level players.

Leave you questions and comments for next week in the comment section of this post. Happy 4th of July everyone, and do not forget our Superliga special tomorrow on the network and our special Superliga coverage which will be your one stop English language shop for all things Superliga beginning next week. That information can be accessed by clicking on the Superliga tab at the top of this page.

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  1. elopingcamel

    July 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    What is it going to take to get soccer back in Vegas? my first choice would obviously be MLS, but at this point, I’d take USL-1, 2, PDL, whatever. I just want something that I can follow (the UNLV season is far too short).

  2. Joseph T.

    July 5, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Why isn’t Superliga on English language TV? I love Telfutura’s shots and production, but cannot understand the announcers.

  3. NJ

    July 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    What is the problem with the national team and a number of MLS teams finishing? When you spoke with the Cleveland Stars coach (I can’t remember his name) a few weeks back, he also mentioned it was something he was disappointed with in the American friendlies against England, Spain and Argentina. I also see it with the MLS, i.e. the Fire vs San Jose last week, the Fire looking inept in the attacking third, running into one another not using space, and constantly missing the attacking target. Why does it seem American players are so inept in this portion of the field. Is it really a player issue or a coaching issue? If the later, what are the potential solutions out there to resolve it? Thanks. Also, is the Nike USL deal already struck, and if so how long until we see the money flow in?

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