MLS: Quotes from April 25 Conference Call

Opening Comments by MLS Executive Vice President Ivan Gazidis "Once again I have no comment with respect to where we are with the signing of a Mexican player for Los Angeles. Those talks are still progressing on a number of different fronts. We are also announcing the signing of what I consider to be one of the most exciting young American players in Major League Soccer, Clint Mathis [Los Angeles Galaxy], to a new multi-year contract. We are delighted that Clint has decided to make his future with us, and we look forward to his development in MLS for years to come. I consider that to be a very important signing for us." Opening Comments by San Jose coach Lothar Osiander "The Earthquakes are alive and kicking I guess. As for the five goals, I think we've had some great approaches and we finally finished them especially in the first half. We had some good chances in the second half and it could have been really ugly, but I'm happy that it wasn't any worse. Dallas isn't a bad team, they just caught a flat day. I'm sure the traveling didn't help them, the same way it doesn't help us, coming out here and having to go back and play two games in a row. As for Tampa, I think they are a quality team. They've been together for a while. Their structure and organization should give us a hell of a battle tomorrow night." Opening Comments by San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon "Last Saturday night we were pretty fortunate with the five goals. We took great advantage of the opportunities given to us. Dallas is a great team and we're looking forward to tomorrow night here in Tampa. Coach Hankinson has them playing real well, and they've exploded in a couple games as well so we've got to watch that. We're excited and we're looking forward to a tough match tomorrow night." Opening Comments by Tampa Bay coach Tim Hankinson "The most important focus for us is really about being able to bounce back after a loss in Kansas City. We are disappointed with our performance there and the fact that we have not been able to tally the results either in the back of the net or in points on the road. Getting to come back home, we hope will be a remedy and get us on track, because the following day we travel to Chicago to play Friday night. We don't want to go into the Friday game with back-to-back setbacks, so it's very important for us to rebound. San Jose is an outstanding team starting with Joe Cannon. He's been one of the big pickups in the league during the past year. We had a chance to get to know him, and were very impressed by him. Our feelings about him have come true for San Jose. He's done an outstanding job there. Certainly Cerritos and Conteh are a handful all game. I know they've been going through the absences of [Ronald] Cerritos as we have with Raul [Diaz Arce]. That always makes it a different challenge to try and construct your lineup and get some consistency going. Right now we are turning a corner as far as health and have most of our players available. I know that our guys are looking forward to the match." Hankinson on the Mutiny's use of a 4-5-1 formation "Actually having the absence of both strikers left us to start the season with one striker. That is what we felt was going to be the availability of the two, and that we'd have one at a time. Within that, the team built some confidence playing that way and has some results playing that way. Really, when I've tried to accommodate both at the same time, we've not had quite the same rhythm. Therefore, right now that is the system we are going to continue to use, and that will create great competition for the pair of strikers [Diaz Arce and Mamadou Diallo] as they battle it out. I think the eventual goal is to get back to two, but certainly we don't have a series of test games to rebuild understanding. It may take a little while for those two to get to know each other. After this weekend we lose Raul again for another week, therefore, staying with one right now will keep them competitive for the playing minutes, as well as keeping the team confident with the way we are playing." Cannon on his comfort level in the net and his offseason training "The league is so competitive and there are so many good goalies out there that I'm never really comfortable. Honestly the team is playing well in front of me. I thought Jamie Clark did a tremendous job last week of filling in for John Doyle at the last minute. They've made things a lot easier on me this year and in that sense I feel real comfortable and confident in my team. It was really just working on a lot of distribution stuff. When Eddie Lewis was around I took a lot of shots from him, and played at Santa Clara a couple of times but nothing really special. Actually, I had ambitions to go overseas and train, but the deal fell through at the last minute. It was just working hard in the preseason with the team. Working hard for me then set the tone for this season." Osiander on John Doyle's status and Abdul Thompson Conteh's confidence "Doyle is questionable for Saturday. He has a hip-flexor problem but I think its healing. He had a MRI and there is no bone damage, so we're hopeful he'll come back. As for Abdul, I know he enjoyed the game immensely. He had two good goals, and he might have had another one so, I think his confidence is growing. He's finding his way in MLS, but I think it's much faster and harder than where he played. At the end, I think he has a little more confidence now and the team has a little more confidence in him. I think that as time goes on he'll be a good player for us." Osiander on his desire to acquire Clint Mathis from Los Angeles "Sure I'm interested in Mathis, but I don't know how I'm going to get him. I tried to get [Steve] Jolley, and I couldn't get him. It is a difficult deal for us. We think for our team, the trade with Los Angeles apparently is off the table, so Mathis is out of reach for us." Gazidis on the feedback from investors regarding the lawsuit "We are pleased to have it behind us. I think that the general reaction has been that we need to move to a healing stage. We have had an open door to try and sit down and speak with our players around the negotiating table rather than through litigation. The hope is that that will now happen. Rather than dealing with our issues through the courts, we'll be able to sit down and deal with those issues face to face and heal some of what we've been through the past three years. I don't think jubilation is the right reaction. We would have rather the last three years not happened. Now we are looking forward to the future and trying to produce a positive working relationship with our players. There has been no kind of formal contact, and I won't speak for the players, but I imagine that they are also taking some time to assess the impact of the decision. I hope that once both sides are through that process we'll be able to think about the next step." Cannon on the abundance of red cards this season as compared to 1999 "As far as I'm concerned I think the play has been the same. I've always thought this league has been a difficult level to play in, as far as the intensity and the physicality of it. To be honest, I haven't seen anything change. In the Earthquakes I have noticed a little more fight this season." Hankinson on the abundance of red cards this season as compared to 1999 "The mindset with the change of conferences has everyone, including the players, guessing how that will play out. I don't think anyone wants to find themselves out of the picture come midseason. Everyone is looking to get out of the blocks very quickly, bringing that playoff intensity to the front end of the season to make sure they are ahead of the picture rather than trying to catch up at the end. I don't think it is anything we are preaching other than what we normally would. Generally I think that the teams are better, and therefore when you are playing against better quality teams obviously you have to raise your level from an intensity standpoint. All the teams are coming out to play right now." Osiander on his observations of D.C. United "I think D.C. is still a quality team. I saw them play New York [the MetroStars] twice and they lost, but they were definitely the better side. They are just in one of the phases of the game where you can't seem to win no matter how hard you try. As soon as they drop a little bit of their intensity I think they'll become a smoother team as they were in years past. They'll make the playoffs and they'll be hard to deal with as time goes on. They are outstanding, even their young players are very good." Hankinson on his observations of D.C. United "Early in the season, it was most noticeable that without Lassiter available to them and with Etcheverry struggling to come off an injury and not starting, Jaime Moreno was forced to drop and help with some of their playmaking. It left them a little light up top as far as their ability to get in behind defenders and create scoring chances. Of course with the Olympics they are missing some guys and therefore they are not at full staff. It's not a true reflection of their squad, but when everyone is there and playing as we'll see as the season goes on, they'll be a team to be reckoned with." Hankinson on the Mutiny's schedule "Its surprising to me that any schedule would reflect back-to-back games where the day between the two games we are on the road traveling. From our standpoint, personnel-wise, it's a very difficult part of the schedule. We just hope to play well so that we can get though it and deal with it the best we can. Certainly it's a situation I'd like to avoid in the future." Osiander on Mauricio Wright's injury "He twisted his knee and he has a little contusion on the knee. It is very stiff right now. He won't be able to do anything for a couple of days, but he should be back on Saturday. At least he's probable for Saturday. There is no use crying over spilled milk, and I think we'll be just as dangerous with him as without him." Hankinson on the Fire's Chris Armas "Since Chris is most dealing with the majority of the responsibilities organizing their midfield and marking an opponents' No. 10, I'd guess he'd be dealing with Valderrama in most cases. From that standpoint, Carlos is always heavily marked and I think teams have even gone beyond what they have in the last couple of years in trying to shut him down. Chris is as good as you get in doing that, so Carlos will have to raise his level in order to make a contribution. If Chris spends that amount of concentration on Carlos, it certainly will take away from what Chris will be able to do at the offensive end." Hankinson on Steve Ralston's play of late "There are two issues there. One is that in our most recent games where we've been trying to accommodate two strikers and Steve, our rhythm has not been as successful. Steve is a much better player on the right and we've maybe moved him around to accommodate other guys and it has taken away from his strengths. Secondly, I think that teams have made more adjustments to try and keep him from playing well. He's getting more attention than I remember him getting last year and I think he'll need to elevate his game." Marcelo Balboa's reflections on his bicycle kick goal against Columbus "It is something that you always dream about doing, but as a defender the chances of getting an opportunity to do something like that are slim and none. I got lucky that I got caught up in the run of play. I stayed forward and Anders [Limpar] played a great ball. I really didn't think twice about trying to head the ball. I just turned like I did in 1994, but I put it on target this time." Balboa on practicing bicycle kicks "I don't practice it as much as I used to, and I really haven't practiced those in a while. As soon as the ball left Anders' foot I took a step forward so my body just instinctively turned and I just tried to make contact. A bicycle kick you just try to get your foot on it and aim it toward the goal. It's nothing that I've really worked on, it's just something that is in the run of play." Gazidis on Clint Mathis' new contract "Last year we spent a lot of time trying to secure some of the league's most important long-term assets. You saw us going out and signing people like Chris Armas, Brian McBride and Jason Kreis to new contracts. Clint has only shown us part of what he's capable of. He still got a lot of learning to do, but he's got an enormous amount of raw talent and I believe he has a lot to contribute to this league as he learns and grows as a player." Balboa on the special allure of the bicycle kick "It's an event that happens every once in a while like a triple play in baseball, -- you just don't see it that often. I don't see or attempt too many of those. It's one of those rare things that you get to see in soccer that isn't there everyday." Gazidis on the status of trade talks between L.A. and San Jose "I think Lothar may have been a little premature in saying that it's all dead between San Jose and L.A. Certainly that's one possibility. I've always said though that if we can't find a trade, then we'll find another way to sign an important Mexican player for L.A. if the deal makes economic sense. What that mechanism would be I don't want to speculate on because I don't think the trade possibilities are dead."
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