Tom Shenk, New York City Though I wholeheartedly support the early entry of players into a professional environment (P-40, MLS youth clubs, etc.), it seems there might be some valid criticism coming from the college ranks this year. Certainly, MLS was very agressive by encouraging the likes of Ben Olsen and Brian West to come out early. However, given that players like Leo Cullen and Johnny Torres have played well right from the start, is it possible that the MLS is overstating its case? Is this college class perhaps a little better than previous ones? What is a good counter to this argument? Mike Woitalla:There's little doubt that this year's incoming college class was the best in the three-year MLS history. Players such as the ones you mentioned -- plus the likes of Clint Matthis, Mike Petke, Jeff Cunningham and Chris Houser -- have done well. (See our story in the Aug. 31 College Preview issue on this year's rookies.) But one must certainly ask, would a player like Johnny Torres be even better this year if he had been in a pro environment last year? My guess is that Ben Olsen will be a much better player in 1999 because he played MLS ball -- rather than college ball -- in 1998. How much better is a question that is difficult to answer, and the decision about whether one should leave early has so much to do with a player's personal situation. And remember, Project-40 addresses two kinds of players: 1) the young man with no or little college aspiration who now has a place to play and receive money for college should he later find desire to study, and 2) the talented college player who looks ripe enough for the pros and risks slowing his progress if he remains in school. The key for the second type of player is that he is in a crucial period of development, and as a senior in college, he would find himself playing mainly with younger players. Young players learn their most importmant soccer lessons by playing with and against older, more experienced players. Even the most fervent advocate of college soccer would have to admit that the college game fails to provide that milieu. No, I don't think MLS is "overstating" the need to provide alternatives to college for young players. But the current success of four-year collegians in MLS at least shows players who want to remain in school longer that doing so won't ruin their chances. Especially if they are getting international experience through U.S. youth national team duty while in college. Robert Sanford Phoenix, Ariz. Do you have any information on Euro 2000, especially the country and any venues that might be set up? Pete Bailey:Euro 2000 will be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium at nine venues (five Belgian and four Dutch). The Belgian stadia will be in Antwerp (capacity 15,000), Bruges (18,200), Brussels (50,000), Charleroi (17,000) and Liege (23,944), while the Dutch ones will be in Amsterdam (51,000), Arnhem (26,600), Eindhoven (30,024) and Rotterdam (51,177). For more information, you can contact the Dutch and Belgian federations: BELGIUM Union Royale Belge des Societes de Football Assn. 145 Ave. Houba de Strooper B-1020 Bruxelles Belgium phone: 011-32-2-477-1211 NETHERLANDS Koninklijke Nederlandsche Voetbalbond Woudenbergseweg 56-58 Postbus 515 NL-3700 am Zeist Netherlands phone: 011-31-343-49-92-11 Michael A. Kear, Sr. Hershey, Pa. What does the PSV in the name PSV Eindhoven in Holland stand for? We have tried everywhere to answer this. Duncan Irving:It stands for "Philips Sport Vereniging". The team is the sporting wing of the Philips electrical company, which has its headquarters in Eindhoven. The team was founded in 1913 at the behest of brothers Gerard and Anton Philips, and has historically received huge financial backing from the company. This has allowed PSV to field better teams and buy better players -- Romario, Ronaldo -- than it would if it had to rely solely on ticket sales and turnstile presence. It also keeps the workers happy, allows them to plow their hard-earned cash back into the company and supplies both with a regional and corporate identity. Gail Hare Danville, Vt. Can something be done about the foul language used by the players during a game? While watching the New England-Colorado game on TV recently, there were some pretty strong words between two players after a sliding tackle, which were picked up by the field-side microphone and broadcast. With the increasing use of these microphones, it seems to me that some discretion needs to be exercised by the players. Such language sets a bad example for young players and is generally unsportsmanlike. Another occasion I've noticed this is when the camera is close up on a goalie after a goal has been scored upon his team, and he is usually uttering some emphatic expression that shouldn't make it to a broadcast. Is the league going to do anything about this? Pete Bailey:You make a valid point, Gail. In the heat of competition, judgement and discretion are often forgotten. This is certainly not specific to soccer or today -- I remember a camera following Ralph Sampson off the court and into the locker room after he was ejected from a game against Boston in the 1986 NBA finals, and he was cursing the whole way -- but it doesn't look good, nonetheless. MLS is not in a position where it can eliminate all cussing, but it has taken steps in recent weeks to curb disrespectful behavior. Carlos Valderrama was hit with a record $10,000 fine for his refusal to practice under new Fusion coach Ivo Wortman. In addition, Tony Meola was fined and suspended and four other teammates were fined for the abusive manner in which they treated a referee in protesting calls in a recent Fusion-MetroStars game. I feel that this is definitely a step in the right direction, and I hope the league will continue to upbraid players who act in this fashion. Polo Seattle Why did you omit the University of Washington in your pre-season rankings? It makes no sense. Poul Swain:Although we did consider Washington for our preseason Top 20, it did not make the final cut. The main reason behind the decision was that the Huskies lost some key players to graduation. Jason Boyce and Ian Russell accounted for almost half the team's goals in '97, while goalkeeper Bill May and defenders Brandon Prideaux and Chad McCarty were instrumental in holding the team's GAA to 0.52. Those players, plus Joey Franchino, are all in MLS or the A-League. I don't know of any other team that "graduated" six players into the pro ranks. We'll see if UW can offset the losses and make a run into the rankings as the season progresses.
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