Soccer America Online Q&A with Editors: 1/29/96

Alex Betaneli, Madison WI

Would there be any games shown on TV from 1996 European Championship?

No announcement has been made, but ESPN and/or ESPN2 may show some matches.

Jeff Wander, Honesdale PA

Should the number of foreign players allowed on college soccer teams be limited in order to provide more scholarships and opportunity to U.S. players? Isn't it true the numbers of foreign players in certain leagues around the world is limited in this fashion?

It is impossible to legislate the number of foreigners on a college team. As it is, the influence of foreigners in college soccer has diminished. Wisconsin used two Norwegians on their 1995 men's Division I championship team, but the Badgers were the first national championship team since 1987 to use foreigners.

Yes most foreign leagues have some limitation on the number of foreigners, though as you may have read, leagues in European Union countries must now treat players from other EU countries equally in light of the Bosman case.

Michael Vraney, Little Chute WI

Actually, just a possible correction. In your Q& A section you state RFK Stadium is the smallest MLS stadium. I believe Spartan Stadium is by far the smallest, I remember watching Earthquakes games on TV, and the capacity could not be more than 20,000.

You're right. Spartan Stadium's capacity is now about 30,000.

Jim McGough, Pleasant Hill CA

Would SA (print or online) consider doing a feature on the troubled state of African soccer? Seems like a very important story, especially with South Africa trying to host near-future Olympics AND World Cup. (Maybe Simon Kuper could write it. He writes about Africa very well in his book.)

Soccer America correspondent Doug Cress has been in South Africa for the African nations' Cup, and he is doing a series of articles on African soccer.

Barbara Sullivan, Fallbrook CA

Will superstar Marcelo Balboa be signed with the MLS soon?

MLS definitely wants Balboa. He tops the list of national team players who may join MLS, along with other veterans like Paul Caligiuri, Cobi Jones and Ernie Stewart. Balboa must first determine his value based on his second season in Mexico with Leon, which is in a fight for a playoff berth at the moment.

Lawrence Sorrillo, Hampton VA

Do you believe that the Brazilian genre of soccer is the best in the world? During the last World Cup the Brazilians demonstrated that all of their players, regardless of the positions they held, have the ability to improvise to the point where they could easily play in different positions. This made the team stand out like no other.

Brazil definitely has more pure talent than any other country in the world. It also, without a doubt, has been better able to develop what would otherwise be called physical players who at the same time have some skill. The Brazil '94 team was not so dominating, however, that Brazil can rest on its laurels. The Olympic team Brazil sent to the Gold Cup was a good team, but not great.

Donald W. Sturman, Campbell CA

Even though its still early in the MLS draft, how does the S.J. Clash look with respect to the rest of the league?

With defenders like John Doyle and Michael Emenalo and Eric Wynalda up front, the Clash looks solid going into the draft. One other advantage it has is that coach Laurie Calloway knows most of the available talent from his days going back to the S.F. Bay Blackhawks.

Tony Roig, Doylestown PA

Do you know where and how I can obtain NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA soccer rankings for the years 1990-1994?

You may try contacting ISAA president Howard Patterson at 210 829-6053 or ISAA executive secretary Bill Coulthard at 904 744-1072. The ISAA handles the national rankings college coaches compile. For your information, the ISAA is merging with the NSCAA.

Jim Leahy, Hartford CT

Why was SA so critical of West Ham's lack of success in the Jan. 22 issue? For a magazine that supports creative, attractive soccer like that played by the Hammers, the article devoted one sentence to the fact that West Ham plays with style. In addition, while every team but Middlesbrough has been to the FA Cup since West Ham was last there, West Ham won the Cup in the early 1980s.

Unfortunately, for whatever style the Hammers have had through the years, they have won few domestic honors. That doesn't mean they don't remain a very popular club in London.

Reza Khalili, Edmonton AB Canada

Do you have any news about MLS trying to sign any well-known European players? Maybe Dutch or Italian players or some higher quality South American players from Brazil or Argentina. I have followed the MLS development closely, but unfortunately many of the players don't seem to be of a great calibre.

While names like Roberto Donadoni and Rudi Voeller keep cropping up, that's about as far as it goes with European stars. MLS is concentrating on Latin American and African players.

Llew Llewellyn, West Hollywood CA

Given the horrendous organization of the Gold Cup, and the notable lack of any show of support from the USSF, do you think that the USSF should play more of a role in such tournaments, Gold Cup, Parmalat Cup, etc.?

Unfortunately, CONCACAF is a higher authority over which U.S. Soccer ultimately has little or no power. As far as independent tournaments like the Parmalat Cup played last year in New Jersey go, they must be sanctioned by U.S. Soccer.

Ron West, Walnut Creek CA

I understand that TV rights for the Gold Cup & the South American Cup last year were sold before World Cup '94. This explains (though lamely) why it has been impossible to watch any US soccer on TV.

I had a friend call up Prime Deportivato get a list of places where the Gold Cup matches could be viewed in the Oakland/Berkeley area.

The ONLY places were some Mexican bars & nightclubs where (I presume) that the action would be in Spanish.

This is ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous. Somebody, a whole department ought to be fired.

Okay, I realize that this has been a rant, so on to the questions. (There are three.)

In the future, let's say the next Gold Cup, can U.S. soccer fans have a realistic expectation of seeing the U.S. squad on TV? Univision is OK, but I'm talking about ABC or ESPN.

Also, I realize that this situation has not been your fault. I would really like to know who the idiot was who negotiated the TV rights away. Please give me this persons address so I can give this person a few choice words.

Finally, I imagine that the idiot who bungled the TV rights, also scheduled the matches as well. Am I the only person aggravated that the U.S. didn't get to play Mexico? US-Mexico would have been a great quarterfinal.

At this point in time, the rights have been sold through the next three Gold Cups, so ABC, Univision or ESPN will have to buy them from the parties that currently hold them. Despite considerable efforts, that didn't happen this time, so there cannot be any expectation that it will happen two years from now.

Questions about the sale of TV rights and scheduling should be directed to CONCACAF. It's located in New York: (212) 308-0044 (telephone); (212) 308-1851 (fax). Chuck Blazer is the general secretary and Jack Warner is the president.

Daniel Prokosch, Phoenix AZ

What is the future of indoor soccer in the United States and will it ever grow out side of North America?

Indoor soccer is in many ways at the crossroads. It still has many, many economic advantages over outdoor soccer, but deep interest in indoor soccer has never been developed.

Burt Glass, location unknown

I just learned that Major League Soccer plans to award eight of the 10 teams a playoff slot at the end of the first season.

Well, it's a big mistake. Allowing everyone and his dog into the playoffs turns the regular season into the preseason, a warmed-over warm-up for the the real thing. We'll routinely see teams with losing records playing in late September, making a joke of the concept that the postseason is supposed to be reserved for the athletes who deserve to be there. Yeah, I know the league wants to maintain fan interest deep into the year, even in markets with poorly performing teams. But by following the lead of the NHL and NBA (and to a large extent, the NFL), the league has instantly de-valued their primary product: regular-season games.

At a minimum, let's hope MLS eliminates the bottom playoff rung, so that only six teams make the playoffs. The first-place team plays at home against the winner of playoff game against the second- and third-place teams.

In this system, more than half the teams still make the playoffs, but winning regular-season games is given its just value.

Bottom line: MLS officials want to maintain interest in as many cities as possible when the general interest level at this time is a complete unknown. The outcry will only come if a No. 4 seed beats a No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.

Len Cornacchia, Eastchester NY

My son Chris has been selected to the Eastern NY ODP squad (U-16) for the second consecutive year. One constant theme I have heard that both regional and national coaches place a premium on is "size" in a player. I have indeed seen less skillful but powerful players given preference over more skillful players by ODP coaches (both state and regional) and club coaches. Why is this so? My own son is of good size for 15 years (5'10", 145 pounds), so he has not suffered from this malady.

In Paul Gardner's book, "The Simplest Game," he also takes issue to the modern preference of size first! I am a converted American football fan, who now enjoys a soccer match over any other form of sport. But, I am concerned it may become over run with the American football mentality of size and strength first.

Is this the way of soccer's future in the U.S.?

An emphasis on size and strength has always been a concern, though most of the top U.S. teams today are not built around size. It will be a problem, however, as long as the emphasis is placed on winning at the youth level. If it is, players with size will always stand out and be picked.

David J Rees, Denver CO

I am waiting for MLS to get here and have big expectations of Roy Wegerle and the rest of Denver's squad, What is your opinion of the team and how do they stack up against the rest of the league? Also, how do you think the league will do and is the greatest sport ever ready to be accepted by our fellow Americans?

Rapids coach Bob Houghton has been away from the American scene for a while, but from what we hear he's been at the African Nations' Cup looking for additional talent.

It's too early to see how the Rapids shape up against other teams and how the league will do generally.

Is America ready to embrace pro soccer? As ready as it will ever be. It'll take a good product on the field, sharp promotion and a good dose of luck to make it.

Travis A. Roy, Madison WI

I would like to express my gratitude for the article written by Paul Gardiner on Wisconsin in the Jan. 29 issue. Our team was slighted by many people before and most unfortunately, after the Final Four. In front of all who had written us off our team accomplished an incredible feat. We thought there was no questioning that fact. Yet, many did. Thank you for the article, it did not.

Travis Roy was one of the stars of the Wisconsin Badgers team that won the 1995 NCAA Division I men's title.

Bill Zeggert, Cary NC

The last I heard, Steve Sampson said he was going to use the Gold Cup as a testing ground for both outside fullbacks and center forwards. He also said he'd give Steve Pittman a real try to see how he fits with the team. Given that, and the fact that Jeff Agoos played 100 percent at left back and Pittman didn't, would you say Sampson has found a new left back? Could you give me some details?

Sampson loved Agoos' play at left back. That made it next to impossible for him to justify putting Pittman in his place. Sampson had to keep a lot of other players happy, which explains why he had no substitutions left to even use Pittman elsewhere.

Jim McGough Pleasant Hill CA

In response to your recent request for information about U.S.-based fan clubs of foreign clubs, I'd like to let you know about ours. We have just formed a supporters' club for Ajax Amsterdam, and in one month we have collected over 50 registered members. Our supporters' club was created by me and other U.S.-based participants in an Internet mailing list -- the Ajax Listerv:

Our club is, to my knowledge, the only U.S.-based supporters' club for Ajax. We have been informally recognized by the Supportersvereniging in Holland, and just about every Ajax-related Web page points to our club's home page on the world wide web:

Some highlights: we offer club member cards, a monthly newsletter, assistance in joining the Supportersvereniging, and the opportunity to join us in an annual trip to Amsterdam. Our first trip will be this April.

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