Q&A with the SA Editors: May 29, 1998

Michael Duggan Jacksonville, N.C. My 12-year-old son loves to play soccer and is very good. I would like to know how to get information regarding the boys national teams at the youth age levels. How does one try out or get invited to camps? Dan Woog: The route to the national team begins at the state level. Your first step should be to call your state association for information regarding ODP (Olympic Development Program) qualifications, tryouts, schedules, etc. From the ODP teams (also called "state teams"), players advance to the regional level, and then to the national team level. Your state association phone number can be found in Soccer America's Yellow Pages. The phone number for the U.S. Youth Soccer Assocation is 800-4SOCCER. Ralph Klein Chatsworth, Calif. As a regular at L.A. Galaxy games, I am pleased to hear that the team is going to have the services of Carlos Hermosillo. Does his playing for Necaxa after the MLS season also mean that he will not be available next year for the Galaxy in 1999 until the Mexican spring league is over in May? If that is true, that is most unfortunate, because he then could miss a third of the MLS season just like Jorge Campos did. Pete Bailey: Yes, Hermosillo's deal is similar to the ones MLS has arranged with Campos and Dallas forward Damian Alvarez, but it was a necessary move. Necaxa will be paying a good portion of Hermosillo's salary (which helps MLS since its maximum salary is $236,500). Hermosillo's availability will depend on how far into the Torneo Verano playoffs Necaxa advances. Remember, though, that Necaxa will be in a similar situation during the Torneo Invierno. Should the Galaxy advance to the MLS Cup, Hermosillo will not be available for Mexican League action until November. Lou Roth Washington, D.C. Concerning Coach Sampson's 3-6-1 alignment, how do you think Ernie Stewart, Tab Ramos, and Joe-Max Moore fit into that scheme? I'm also concerned about containing counterattacks with this system, despite the "windshield wipers" in the defensive midfield. Ridge Mahoney: Good questions, Lou, particulary in regards to counters. Joe-Max Moore can play as the lone forward, as an attacking midfielder, or in a real pinch, as a central midfielder dropping closer to his own goal. He is a tenacious, tireless worker. However, his attacking tendencies are so strong that to pull him too far from goal is counterproductive, and although Sampson thinks he could also play as a flank midfielder, he's much better in the middle of the park. Ernie Stewart has been playing in the middle, either as an attacking midfielder or a bit deeper. He's spent much of his career with the U.S. out wide, and so could also be used on the flank, but his tackling is somewhat weak. He certainly has the speed and endurance to play on the flank. In 1994, he played as the lone forward in Milutinovic's system, but Sampson has other options for that spot in 1998. Tab Ramos has only one real spot in a 3-6-1, and that's as an attacking midfielder. He could play out wide, but only if one of the central midfielders shifted over to cover that side, and played more like an outside back. Ramos has played up front on occasion, but is better in midfield where he usually has more space and time on the ball to set up his runs. This system is designed to limit counters, since at least five players should be behind the ball most of the time, except on set plays, and one of the sweeper's primary tasks is to watch for counters. With six midfielders, at least one should be able to apply pressure when the ball is lost so the opponent cannot counter immediately. If a counter is delayed even for a couple of seconds, it loses its potency. However, the flank players must be ready to race back into their own half and fill the spaces that are open when the U.S. loses possession with numbers forward. Also, if Dooley pushes up, the central midfielders have to be ready to chase back in case a man-marker is caught two-vs.-one. But let's face it, if you're trailing a good team and are pushing players forward, the opponent will get opportunities to counter. Your best friend in those situations is a sharp goalkeeper, i.e. Kasey Keller. Philips Dharmaraj Ipoh, Perak, West Malaysia I had the privilege to watch Argentina win the junior World Cup in Malaysia last year. How many players from the junior squad will be in France? Also, how many caps does Daniel Passarella have for Argentina? Pete Bailey: Argentina certainly had plenty of talent on it's U-20 championship team, including star midfielder Pablo Aimar, but there are plenty of outstanding senior players as well, of course. The last roster we saw (which you can access in the roster updates in the World Cup section of www.socceramerica.com) did not include any members of last year's U-20s. Passarella is one of the most successful players in Argentina's history. He made 75 appearances for his country, scoring 24 goals. David Ainley Sausalito, CA I noticed that you revised your listing of college programs that have sent 4 or more players to MLS by adding Saint Louis in your May 25 issue, but how about Troy Dayak, John Doyle, Tim Weaver and Marquis White, all from USF and all in MLS? Paul Kennedy: David, we certainly haven't forgotten about USF (many of our staff members have made the trip over to San Francisco to watch the Dons play at Negoesco Stadium). The list we ran was of players who had PLAYED in MLS this season as of April 19, not those on rosters. (There were many more players at other schools in that category.) Dayak, who is on injured reserve, hasn't played yet this year.
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