MLS: Quotes from June 29 media teleconference

The following are quotes from the June 29 MLS media teleconference, which featured MLS commissioner Doug Logan, MLS VP Ivan Gazidis, Los Angeles coach Sigi Schmid and Colorado forward Jorge Dely Valdes. Doug Logan Opening Remarks "I had the opportunity of being in Denver on Saturday night too see a game between our defending champion, the Chicago Fire, and the current Western Conference first-place team for a very entertaining game ... [Colorado forward] Jorge Dely Valdes, one of today's guests and our current MLS Player of the Week, has now scored the Rapids' game-winning goal in three consecutive games." "We are in good shape going into this weekend ... We will have nine games between now and next week's call, with two midweek games tomorrow, a game on Friday, a fireworks celebration in Tampa Bay on Saturday night [July 3], and five more games on Sunday, all celebrating the traditional Fourth of July ... We expect great crowds at all of our 4th of July spots and look to have a 15,000 attendance average after this weekend ... We expect to see our decision to play on predominantly Saturday nights pay dividends." "I'm also pleased to announce our All-Star head coaches - Thomas Rongen of D.C. United in the East and Glenn Myernick of the Colorado Rapids in the West ... Rongen was the East All-Star head coach back in 1996 at Giants Stadium, while Myernick, an assistant at the 1997 MLS All-Star Game, edged out Mr. David Dir in Dallas for the honors to lead the West on July 17 in San Diego." "Finally, I want to offer my congratulations to Sigi Schmid, another guest on today's call, for Los Angeles' turnaround ... We are all pleased to see the Galaxy scoring goals and look forward to a very hard-fought Western Conference race." Ivan Gazidis Opening Remarks "As many of you know, [Colorado Rapids goalkeeper] Marcus Hahnemann has been having a tremendous season ... We have known for long time that there would be some likelihood to transfer Hahnemann overseas ... Today, we have completed a deal to transfer Marcus to Fulham of the English First Division ... We wish him well, as Marcus has been a great performer during his three years in MLS ... Colorado acquired [backup goalkeeper] Ian Feuer in the preseason with this situation in mind ... Hahnemann's transfer is immediate, he will leave the country this week and begin training next week ... I would expect to see Feuer in goal for Colorado this weekend." "We also expect to see Mauricio Solis in San Jose this week ... He is a tremendous player and I think that MLS fans will enjoy watching him play." "Finally, there is nothing of great importance to report from the Mexican draft in Ixtapa last week." Sigi Schmid Opening Remarks "I'm very happy that we are finding the net on a more regular basis ... I'm glad that we are helping the league's goal average, instead of bringing it down ... The return of Carlos Hermosillo has been important, as he has helped us just as much off the field as he has on the field ... He is a man of tremendous character, and he has boosted our team morale and camaraderie." "We expect a big crowd on July 4 against the Fusion ... Miami is better than their record indicates ... They are dangerous if we take them lightly ... They are a quality team and I have to prepare us not to look past them this weekend." Jorge Dely Valdes Opening Remarks "I feel that I'm integrating into the team quite nicely, due to the great group in Denver and the way the coaching staff has given me their confidence ... I feel like a part of the team ... The last three games have been important to the team because its been over the last three games that we are in first place for the first time in the history of the Rapids ... Now comes the hard part, which is keeping ourselves in first place for the rest of the season." Logan on Hahnemann's leaving/disruption to the Rapids "It's not the first time this has happened, since it was also an important issue in Columbus when [former Crew goalkeeper Brad] Freidel changed clubs ... The transfer system is one of the inherent qualities of the soccer world ... For us to operate effectively in this business, we have to focus on market issues, although fans do get used to certain players ... As a consequence to the business side, players sometimes move along in the middle of the season ... In most places around the world, the concept of trading players is foreign but the transfer system is an expected fact of life ... Here in America, selling players is a foreign concept but trades are common in all of our sports." "We realized that teams would come after Marcus, so it then became a business issue ... Do we transfer him when we have him under contract, or let him go for free at the end of our season? ... We prepared for this scenario along the way, and that's why Ian Feuer was in camp." "From the fan standpoint, I don't think it is detrimental to MLS ... There are multiple comparisons I can give where teams have traded players for future considerations ... Trades are familiar territory, but the transfer system is inherent to our sport and to our business ... We try to keep from losing a player in the middle of the season, but it is part of soccer." Gazidis on Hahnemann's transfer "I grew up in England in the transfer system ... This happens every day of the week in Europe ... No one says that the transfers reflect poorly on the league ... Players leave and join MLS during the middle of the season ... We would have preferred to keep Marcus Hahnemann, but I know that Ian Feuer is a good player and will do a great job." Dely Valdes on Hahnemann's departure "We are losing a good player but those opportunities don't come every day for a player ... This is the time for him to be transferred ... Feuer is an outstanding goalkeeper, and personally I think either one of them could be starting in goal ... It is a good time for him because the game has a lot of ups and downs and Hahnemann is playing what may be his best soccer right now ... He has saved us in many games and in general he is going to maximize his opportunity ... This means that Feuer will get the chance to show how he can play ... Feuer's teammates will have to support him, which we do, the same way we did for Marcus." Logan on whether consideration was given to the Rapids' with regard to Hahnemann's transfer "No ... We have known for some time, in excess of six months, that we were going to get an offer for Hahnemann that probably wouldn't allow him to finish the season ... As a consequence of that, we made certain moves with the recognition that a Hahnemann move could happen ... Athletes in this sport are well versed with the transfer system ... Mr. Dely Valdes expressed delight earlier in this call in having a teammate realize a lifelong dream ... Whether Colorado was in first place or last, this would have taken place." "We have known for some time that this could happen ... In several offseasons during his A-League and MLS career, Marcus has trained in Britain and showcased his talents for a wide variety of folks ... We attempted to extend his contract beyond this year, but we were told 'My lifelong dream is to play in the Premier League' ... Marcus has a German passport, so that makes it easier for him to play in Europe from a paperwork standpoint [than for the average American player] ... We knew he was being scouted, and we thought it would be a matter of time before this came along ... This was our chance to put him where he wants to go and where we, both Marcus and the league, could make some money." Gazidis on the consideration issue "One consideration that hasn't been mentioned is Marcus Hahnemann's mental state and commitment to the Rapids ... Had we told Marcus that we would block this and keep it from happening, you might not see him playing at the level that we've seen him perform at so far this season ... Hahnemann is a professional, and I'm sure he would honor all his commitments to the Rapids and to the league ... However, the emotional side is a bit unpredictable ... This is not a game played by robots." Logan on luring top Americans from overseas "There will be instances where we have players play for us, and then go overseas, and there will be instances where players sign over there and then come here ... Soccer is a global game in a global setting played with global rules ... We are living in a global marketplace, and this player was afforded a midseason opportunity." Gazidis on luring Americans home "Feuer is one of the players that came back from overseas ... This kind of thing happens in every country of the world." Gazidis on MetroStars foreign player update "Every week on this call we say that it isn't realistic to have an announcement in the next 10 days ... However, I'm pleased to say that it is probable to have an announcement in the next 10 days, and probably multiple announcements to address some of the problems that MetroStars have had ... The prospects are exciting but I don't want to prejudice them by prematurely mentioning them specifically in public." Schmid on additional players for the Galalxy "We are all set with our foreign group of players [Mauricio Cienfuegos, Carlos Hermosillo, Roy Myers and Simon Elliott] ... I'm very happy with them ... Things have changed very much over the last three weeks with the addition of Seth George and Roy Myers and the arrival of Hermosillo." "Hermosillo is a very upbeat person, a practical joker ... There's always a smile on his face on the bus or on the field in training ... Based on his pedigree and on what he's accomplished, that goes a long way when the young players see him enjoying his work ... It shows them the discipline and respect needed to succeed, but that you can have a good time also." Schmid on Clint Mathis' starting role "He will play significant minutes for us, whether it is as a starter or off the bench ... We are looking at using Clint as a second forward, wide in midfield, and deep in midfield ... On Sunday in Tampa Bay, we asked him to play a defensive role and try to get forward, and he certainly did just that, scoring two goals ... We have to find minutes for him." Schmid on parity in the Western Conference "When I look at the West compared to last year, you look at the improvement of Colorado, with the additions of Anders Limpar and Jorge Dely Valdes, and the improvement of Dallas, which has added Oscar Pareja and John Jairo Trellez ... All the teams have improved themselves ... San Jose is picking up a good player in Solis, and to this point they have been a bit unlucky ... There are a number of quality teams in the West." Schmid on the U.S. Open Cup running concurrently during the MLS season "We are looking forward to the challenge ... MLS Cup is our No. 1 goal, but the Open Cup give us an opportunity to look at all of our players ... We want to advance to the Open Cup final and do something we haven't done before ... Being in the tournament for the first time is a good opportunity for the Galaxy." Schmid on Cobi Jones' struggles this season "As a coach that's a priority for me, to help Cobi turn things around ... Jones was asked to carry a tremendous load for us this season, and that took a tremendous amount of energy ... He's had a lot of little nagging injuries, and he's the second-most fouled player in the league ... He will find his game, especially now that our team seems to have found its game we will have to help him find his ... He's not that far off, he's just mentally and physically fatigued at this point." Schmid on Galaxy defense "I wish all grandaddies could play like Paul Caligiuri ... Robin Fraser is having a great season; he's different from [former Galaxy defender] Dan Calichman, but in his own way he accomplishes many of the same things ... It was nice for our defense to not have a great game Sunday and still win ... We could use more depth in the middle of the back ... We'll look at more players and make do with what we have." Logan on Women's World Cup doubleheaders "We will continue to create great afternoons and evenings of soccer and that includes doubleheaders where there is a significant interest in both games." "I want everyone to understand that we see ourselves as a partner of the Women's World Cup ... Those of you that attend matches and go in the press boxes and onto the field see MLS employees working those events ... It is all part of being the extended soccer family ... We are in a dialogue with those examining a women's professional league ... Our hats go off to those who have put the tournament together ... We look forward to playing the appropriate role in the formation of a women's professional league, which would be great for the women's game ... We are their biggest fans, and it is a different game." "Any talk of Mia Hamm or another women's national team star playing a half with an MLS team would be insulting to the women's game ... They have fought very hard to get where they are ... Any attempt to create a public relations event to demean where they have come will not happen with MLS." Logan on straying from single-entity in the future "We have established an architecture for this business and we don't see it changing - ever."
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