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MLS: Weekly Teleconference call
March 28th, 2000 12AM

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Participants: MLS Executive Vice President Ivan Gazidis MetroStars Head Coach Octavio Zambrano D.C. United Head defender Jeff Agoos Ivan Gazidis' Opening Comments: "It was another exciting weekend on the field and I think we had some good games. We saw Lothar's debut in Miami, and I know he's disappointed with the result down there. I'm sure that D.C. was also disappointed with the way they played this last weekend so both of those teams will be looking to bounce back against each other this weekend. As many of the media members on the call already know we have expressed an interest in signing a significant Mexican player for this season. I am not going to comment on those negotiations as they go on so as not to prejudice them. We are moving forward with that and when we have something of significance to announce we will do so." Octavio Zambrano's Opening Comments: "Obviously, it was a disappointing weekend for us, I felt the team should have done much better than what it did. All things considered, our team really hasn't been together long enough to make a fair evaluation of all or our players individually or as a unit. I would like to give it a little more time to fairly assess what the positive and negative impact of certain players is going to be. I am confident that once Lothar plays a few more games with us he will find his way and become the impact player I know he is. We have also dealt with some minor injuries that have hampered our ability to put the best team on the field. D.C. obviously is a great opponent and we are going to have to play our best to beat them this coming weekend." Jeff Agoos' Opening Comments: "I think the result last week was an unacceptable result for the club here. We knew that we weren't ready to come out and play and I think it showed. Give a lot of credit to L.A., they came out and executed a perfect game plan against us and deserved to win. We hope to use that game as a wake-up call. This league is not a league where we can just walk out on the field and beat a team by just being there and I think L.A. made us realize that. I expect this second game to be an exciting one. I know that New York is a much better team than last year and we are going to have to come out at full strength to get a win at the Meadowlands." Gazidis on Robert Warzycha's controversial handball against San Jose: "The referee was unsighted from his position where he couldn't actually see the handball but the referee's assistant raised his flag to indicate that there had been a handball. From the assistant referee's point of view he could not tell whether the ball was going into the net, whether it was wide of the goal or whether it would have hit the post and come out. The referee obviously hadn't seen the incident so he couldn't make that judgment call. If the handball had prevented a goal or a clear goal-scoring opportunity then Warzycha should have received a red card, but neither the referee or his assistant were in the position to make that call conclusively. We've spent some time this morning looking at the incident on videotape and none of us could say for sure whether or not the ball was headed into the net. It's just not clear. In that situation, according to the rules of the game, the referee was unable to send Warzycha off, but the handball call and the penalty kick call were still correct." Zambrano on finding a midfield leader for the MetroStars: "A lot of what the team showed was a lack of having played with the new players. When we were in Florida and Portugal, we really didn't have most or our players with us. We didn't have Valencia, Comas or MatthSus, so really its been only a week that these three players were together. Actually the mistakes that happened both in the defense and in the midfield were a result of us having not been together enough. We do have a void in the midfield, but I'm hoping that Lothar MatthSus will take a more active role in filling the midfield along with some of our other players as well. For now I would reserve judgment until our team has played a string of matches, then I can make a true assessment of what our needs are." Zambrano on the response he expects from the MetroStars' fans: "In New York, the fans have the right to be emotional about the team they root for. That's part of the game. If you are a true analyst of the game you have to take a lot of factors into account. Players come late and it takes some time to adjust. I am hoping that our fans realize that is the case here. I know that our team is much better than what it showed, and I am confident that it will show once we get everybody on the same page. I can't speak for all the fans, but they have the right to be disappointed. I know they are disappointed, I am disappointed. I hope they can see it (a loss in our first game) for what it is." Agoos on the rivalry between D.C. United and the MetroStars: "I think that just because of the distance between the two clubs there is an innate rivalry. Obviously the first couple of years there was a heated rivalry, which was helped when we went three games with them in the playoffs in 1996. That sets the stage for a pretty distinct rivalry. It's a pride issue because the guys here at D.C grew up and played with or against the guys in New York so there is that sort of rivalry that we'd like to continue. Its good for the sport." Zambrano on the frustration of not having all his players available: "It is frustrating, but that is the reality of the game right now. I'm not going to expend too much time thinking about how to adjust. What we need to do as a club is try to make sure that Lothar's absence is not a negative. We need to prepare as a team, and think of Lothar MatthSus as an added bonus to what we are doing and not the central point. If we look at it in those terms, we will be better served as a club, and our team will function better." Gazidis on the status of Dallas midfielder Jorge Rodriguez's contract: "We expect him back (from National Team duty with El Salvador), but as far as I know Zarco's agent has told us that he intends to play under his current agreement and that we will talk again at the end of the season." Gazidis on the Kansas City Wizard's attendance: "There are always concerns about attendance figures, but I think we make a mistake if we focus all our attention on figures like attendance and television ratings. The thing that we have to convey more effectively is that we have a strong group of investors who are committed to this league for the long term, which overrides everything. There is no suggestion that Kansas City is going to be moved or anything like that. We have to focus on doing things better so that those attendance figures improve." Zambrano on the status of Adolfo Valencia: "El Tren" Valencia is recuperating quite well from his injury, and we didn't want to risk losing him for longer. We are expecting him to play at least 45 minutes and if he is feeling better perhaps the full 90 minutes." Agoos on the absence of Marco Etcheverry and its affect on United's play: "We had a similar situation as the MetroStars, we didn't have Marco for much of the preseason. We need him in the lineup to be at full strength. That being said, I think we are still capable of winning games without him. I think we were stretched out a lot against L.A. because we felt we had to get forward and create more. That created pressure on the whole team, not just the back four. Like all four years, we know we can win without him, but we'd rather win with him." Gazidis on the pending allocation of a Mexican player to Los Angeles: "Our priority to is to get a significant Mexican player for L.A., but if there are other economic deals out there that are we believe are supportable and reasonable, then we won't restrict ourselves to only one player. If we are presented with a variety of options that make sense, we'll try to make more than one deal happen." Gazidis on additional sanctions against Marco Etcheverry for his foul on Cienfuegos: "The referee made the right decision on the red card for the challenge. The subsequent actions of Marco are being reviewed through video tape evidence, and from that we'll determine if further action is necessary." Zambrano on his timetable for the MetroStars development: "The issue is basically time on the field and perhaps positional issues regarding Lothar. I can't tell you with certainty how much time it will take us to gel as a team. I think that we have good enough players to say that adjustment will probably come sooner than later. I think to be fair with our players and to what we are doing as a team, we will need to look at this team at least seven to ten matches from now. That should be ample time to see what the contributions of certain individuals will be." Agoos on 16-year-old Bobby Convey and his adjustment to professional soccer: "When he's on the field, we definitely see him as a teammate. He's someone who when he is on the field he can play, and maybe that surprises some guys that he can compete and contribute on this level. I sort of remember what is what like to be 16, and there will be some maturation process that he has to go through, but he's a good, smart kid and this should really help him out in the end." Gazidis on signing more young players such as DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey: "We spend a lot of time in contact with the U.S. youth coaches at all levels and with all kinds of different contacts trying to root out the players we are interested in. It's not a situation where we're going to go out and sign 100 young players. What we try and do is target the guys who interest us specifically and then spend a lot of time with them and their parents talking about what the right decision is. The most important thing is to focus on what the best place is for that player's professional development. Closing that gap and giving players professional experience can only be good for their professional development. College has its place, and I think that we'll always get players from the college ranks and I think there is ample evidence of that in our league right now."


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