What do you think changed?
What did you think of the deal they signed? Is it sustainable long term?
I kept hearing about the awful conditions the players were being put through over the years in terms of guaranteed deals, which was a real point of contention for them in the negotiation. What specifically were they talking about?
What were your thoughts on the Red Bull’s win over Santos hours after the CB was signed?
There were a couple of issues that impacted the final CBA agreement. First, both sides recognized that a strike could end the MLS. The growth of the league has been slow (slower than many predicted), but there has been growth. A strike would have damaged that growth. Second, the league gave in to some of the player’s demands. They held the line on free agency, but gave a little on other demands. They gave enough for the players to save face with the signed agreement
Of course after the fact we hear all kinds of rumors about threats from the owners (Dave Cheketts) to the players etc. The fact is the CBA is a good deal for all and soccer will be played. The MLS must use the World Cup to increase awareness and increase interest.
The Red Bull – Santos games was meaningless. It tells us nothing about either team. Santos did not field their best eleven and Brazilians hate cold weather!
2. What were your thoughts on the new Red Bull stadium? Did it live up to the hype?
Do these stadiums that only fit 25-30,000 fans hurt the U.S.’s likelihood of getting another World Cup sometime soon when countries around the world like England have world class soccer stadiums that seat 60-70-80,000 fans?
The Red Bull stadium is first class and a real soccer stadium. The seats are on the field, there are no obstructions and the fans are covered in the event of rain. It is tremendous.
In terms of a WC bid, stadiums like this will not hurt our chances. You cite big stadia in England as being a problem for the USA bid. Remember that there are only a few of those big stadia in England with the majority of stadia being smaller – like the Red Bull Stadium. Also remember that no other country in the world has as many large stadia as the USA – no one. I suspect the WC games will be played in large stadia.
Also remember that no one “puts on a show” like the US. Both the 1984 LA Olympics and the 1994 WC made a great deal of money for the respective governing bodies. In fact they rank as the highest income producers of any international events. That is what the US sells to Fifa! And after the upcoming fiasco in SA, Fifa will be looking to regain some prestige and money.
3. Quick question about the national team. I think Tim Howard must be under-rated because I see him as a top 5 goalie in the world. I think Brad Friedel is terrific as well, and would be a tremendous back-up. I’ve heard people say they’d like to see him come back to the USA national team and start over Howard, and I think to myself they must be living off what he did for the MNT in 2002. Howard was terrific at the Confed Cup last summer, and to me he’s arguably the U.S.’ best player.
Obviously Bob Bradley won’t replace Howard for Friedel at this juncture I’m almost sure of because of the chemistry factor he’s been trying to build, but who would you take?
Am I over-rating Howard?
I agree about Tim Howard. He is one of the best keepers in the world and getting better. Brad Friedel is good, but he is on the back nine of his career and he would not accept a back up role! His ego would not allow that.
4. Two quick questions about the Bundesliga. Can you talk briefly about what Hoffenheim have been able to accomplish such a relatively short time rising from like Division 7 all the way up the top level and then competing for a Bundesliga title?
And also you mentioned last week about how the Bundesliga has taken steps to essentially promote their league having meet-and-greets with the players. Why doesn’t the MLS take a page out of the Bundesliga book and something like that? It seems almost too obvious – are the MLS people that incompetent and inept promotionally?
Hoffenheim is a great example of the relegation/promotion type of league that (I think) would be great in the US – but will never happen. Can you imagine a small soccer club in Boston; playing in an amateur league suddenly finding financial backing; playing its way through all levels of semi-pro and professional leagues and seven years later ends up in the MLS and actually challenges for the championship? That is exactly what Hoffenheim did with the support of software magnate Dietmar Hopp. Hopp played at the club when he was young. He financed the club and the new stadium. Hoffenheim is more of a regional team than is Bayern or FC Cologne. It draws from the Heidelberg area and sells out every week. The club is a great story. But the story simply underscores the most important ingredient for a sports franchise – money!!
A few years a go the Bundesliga realized the attendance was declining. The young German fan was opting for other recreational outlets (just like our current generation in the US) and not going to games. There were problems in the stands with skinheads etc. The Bundesliga was in trouble. Things had to change. The league created a plan that included; making the game an event and using the players to sell the team and promote the league. Initially the players were hesitant,, but now it is part of their standard contract and they have obligations to promote the club and sport. The fans are back and the attendance is tremendous. It is difficult to get a ticket at most games today!!
You hit a nerve with me. I sent you an editorial I wrote about this some time ago. Use it or quote it if you like. In the early days of the MLS there was never a problem getting players to come to my camp, or come to meet the OWU team, in fact some of the guys trained with our team in the off season. The Crew played at OWU every year. We made it a “Meet the Crew” Day and had a few thousand fans at Rike watching the game. After the game there was an autograph session , pictures etc. Great promotion. Today, I can’t get a Crew player to walk across the street without payment. They are missing an opportunity. Every league (yes even the NFL and NBA) had growing pains and called upon the athletes to help sell themselves. When I was playing basketball in Boston in high school, our coach would call the Celtics and we would have one of them come to practice. We had Bob Cousy, both Joneses, Larry Siegfried, John Halicek etc.. And these guys were winning 11 championships in 13 years at the time! The MLS players want Kobe-esque money right now. The League has a long way to go. Bayern plays over 50 games a year throughout Bavaria to keep fans happy. The MLS should learn a lesson.
5. Lastly as I mentioned last week I want to start breaking down some of the major players before the World Cup. We talked a bit about Germany before, now I’d like to go over Brazil – not necessarily my favorite team, but one I think every soccer fan has to enjoy to watch, and if Germany doesn’t win I generally root for them.
To me Dunga has taken the flavor, the expression, the joga bonito “play beautifully” out of the team to an extent. Their latest friendly a couple of weeks back vs. Ireland was clinical, but not Brazilian. Granted he has to deal with more egos and more pressure than any other manager in the World knowing that not only must Brazil win the World Cup they must look good doing so too, but I couldn’t understand some of Dunga’s selections.
I can’t for the life of me understand why he keeps selecting Adriano. This is a guy, who has continuously battled alcohol problems and it has showed on the field. This is a guy that quit Inter Milan because “he lost the love of the game.” This is a guy that completely failed to show up at the last World Cup, and looked just as fat, and out of shape as Ronaldo without the ability to finish like Ronaldo (not to degrade Ronaldo too much because I think he’s the greatest forward ever, but if he wasn’t chasing the all-time goals record at the last WC I don’t think he would’ve had a sniff of the field. What’s your opinion on Adriano?
There are some peculiar moves Dunga has made that have puzzled me. For instance not just selecting Maicon over Danny Alves, but not finding a spot for Alves anywhere on the pitch. I understand that Maicon plays more defensively, i.e. gets back better – but Alves is the best right back in the world right now and is the best since Cafu was manning the right flank for over a decade. He draws a lot of attention away from Messi at Barcelona and I would think Dunga could find room for him if not at right back perhaps at right mid. What’s your take?
The knock on Brazil (whether right or wrong) has always been that they are not disciplined – especially in the defensive third. In soccer there is a thin line between discipline and creativity. Coaches must be careful not to trample on that line and Brazilian coaches have the most difficult job in this regard. The coach who made the biggest impact in changing the Brazilian “style” is Carlos Alberto Parreira in 1994. He organized the defense for Brazil and was criticized just as you are criticizing Dunga. In order to win today the Brazilians have to change a little. The other soccer powers are better than before and are very organized. The 1970 style Brazil play will not win today. In fact Arrigo Sacchi called the 1994 Brazilian team, “…the most organized in history”. That system was based on a flat back four, a positional passing game with the counter attack and changes of rhythm while in possession. They won the WC.
All good coaches have a philosophy. That philosophy is certainly influenced by the culture of the country and the history of soccer in that country. But no two coaches will have the same philosophy – even if they come from the same country!
A key element of a coach’s job is to evaluate and assess all the players available. He then selects the players he feels best will “interpret” his philosophy. You need good players and team players and you CAN NOT CHOOSE the same type of player!! That won’t work. Brazil has many players who are the same. That complicates the selection process.
In 1971 when I was living in Munich, I met German National team coach, the late Helmut Schön. He taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. He said there are different types of players:
· Personality player: the player everyone remembers he puts his stamp on the game. These players are very rare. If you have two of them, put them as far away from each other as possible on the field.
· Creative player: Very technical, maybe the playmaker – I call them “pink shirts”. They will play a game and have no dirt on the shirt. But they are indispensible. They move the ball around.
· Fighters: The dirtbags. Their shirts are dirty in warm ups. They do the dirty work. They must be paired with the creative players
Players can be a combination of the above (except personality players). Coaches must put players on the field so they play together and not play against each other. Two creatives next to each other are a problem etc.
My point? Be careful before you criticize selection. Dunga knows his philosophy and knows the players better than you and I. Your comments are in the context of YOUR philosophy of what you want for a team – not Dunga. The Brazilian coach is in the toughest position of all WC coaches…