MLS: Quotes from May 18 media teleconference

Here are quotes from today's MLS media teleconference featuring league commissioner Doug Logan, league executive vice-president Ivan Gazidis, Colorado coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick and MetroStars midfielder Mark Chung. Doug Logan Opening Remarks "We had a pretty good weekend with the stadium opening in Columbus, for which I have to doff my hat to [Columbus Crew GM] Jamey Rootes and [MLS Investor/Operator] Lamar Hunt ... It was conducted in a first-class manner and there are no accolades large enough to indicate how hard they and their staffs worked for a year ... The opening was a landmark event for our league ... We can look forward to a series of games with 18-20,000 fans in Columbus." "The next day in Chicago, Soldier Field was in much better condition and we witnessed a very spirited match between the defending champions and the Colorado Rapids, who have won five straight games." Ivan Gazidis Opening Remarks "The feeling I had has not been replicated since April 6, 1996 [the league's inaugural game] ... It's not hyperbole to say that the stadium opening represented a second opening for MLS ... We look forward to other investors following Lamar Hunt's lead with respect to the development of soccer-specific stadiums." Glenn "Mooch" Myernick Opening Remarks "I'm very proud of our team ... We've won five in a row, including three straight on the road ... We've gotten off to a good start ... The attitude and chemistry on this team is first-class ... Our opponent this week, the MetroStars, are coming off a bit of a goal-scoring drought but they had three on Saturday night ... We will prepare for a very good MetroStars team ... It seems like we haven't been home for six months [since April 17] but we're anxious to get back to Mile High Stadium." Mark Chung Opening Remarks "We played an excellent game on Saturday ... I played a different role, we held the ball well and we finished well ... I was out on the wing, whereas before I was up front or in the middle ... I felt more comfortable without players on my back, which happened up front, and without as much of a defensive role, which happened in the middle ... The organization here is first-class." Logan on league stadium openings in future years "It's difficult to be definitive ... It's a wonderful stadium of appropriate scale in Columbus ... We want to gravitate towards soccer-specific stadiums where we control our destiny ... Three-to-five cities will follow ... The issues that are related to real estate projects are best left confidential in nature until they are finalized ... It remains my fervent hope that we open a new stadium every year ... However, the next one probably will not open until the next 2-3 years in possibly Denver, Los Angeles, the New York area or a couple of the other cites ... We hope to have an announcement in the near future." Logan on expansion timeline "Expansion is looking far more probable in 2001 than 2000, but it is possible next year ... We want to do it right ... We feel no external pressure ... We want to make sure that the seeds we plant are planted correctly ... The go or no go date is on or about the 1st of July ... A lot of things have to fall into place by July 1, and it is not probable, but it is possible." Myernick on Rapids' '97 winning streak as compared to current run "The difference is mainly on defense ... We talked with our players in the preseason about defending better as a team, not just waiting on defenders... We spent a lot of time in the preseason getting better at it and being more efficient at our defending ... Our goal differential is a plus-5 right now but the consistency of our defending is the reason we've been successful." Myernick on the play of goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann "Marcus is very consistent, more so than last season ... He isn't at the top of the charts in terms of saves, but that shows the quality of the defending before him ... [Jason] Bent and [David] Vaudreuil were with us last year, but they joined us late in the season ... Now that they've began the season with us, they are integrated into our defense ... The shift of Balboa and Vermes also has solidified the team and the steal of Matt McKeon is great for our defensive midfield ... With the additions and experience, Hahnemann doesn't have as much to do this season." Gazidis on MetroStars' fourth international player "We're not in negotiations with anyone at the moment ... It would be an overstatement to say that we have been given a list of names ... We are in daily discussions with the MetroStars to see what we can do to help them." Myernick on the Rapids being "team to beat" in the Western Conference "It's too early in the season to say that ... We are trying to instill the confidence in our players to be the team to beat at the appropriate time ... Dallas has enjoyed a solid season, Los Angeles still has plenty of weapons, Chicago is the defending champs, San Jose is much improved and Kansas City has a talented team." Myernick on Balboa's move to sweeper "During a period since I've been with the Rapids there was a period there where it was best for the team for him to be in the midfield .... With the addition of McKeon, it allowed Balboa to move back to where he feels most comfortable, and gives him a chance to play along Peter Vermes, someone he's played with for many years at different levels ... The two have great communication skills, and their leadership and experience have enabled us to solidify our defense." Myernick on forward production of Harris, Bravo and Dely Valdes "It won't be a premeditated rotation ... Who starts will be determined by the performance during the previous game and training during the prior week, as well as injuries ... As we prepare this week, I haven't decided on the lineup ... It won't be until Thursday night when I decide who will start and who will come off the bench." Myernick on McKeon "He's a great competitor ... I coached him at the Under-23, Under-20, Olympic team and other levels ... He's good for team chemistry ... Sometimes his competitive spirit can become stubborn and ornery, but I like that ... We work with him as far as what his role is depending on who is playing next to him ... We're very happy with what Matt has brought to our team." Gazidis on Fusion foreigner "We are moving forward towards a player who [Fusion Head Coach] Ivo [Wortmann] is interested in ... It's too optimistic to say that it will happen today ... We should have interest by the end of the week ... It is a player who is not in the country, an international player ... There are not negotiations going on right now ... We are trying to fill the international spot that the Fusion has open ... This is a pretty good player who will help the Fusion ... After we sign the player, we have the work permit process ... He may not be available this weekend or even next weekend ... It may be 2-3 weeks." Logan on Fusion "We always are looking to short-term needs and long-term acquisitions for all teams ... We may have found a short-term solution with a player who satisfies Ivo's needs, but we are also taking a long-term view with respect to replacing Carlos Valderrama, who was in the last year of his contract anyway." Chung on Fusion needs "The players are young on the Fusion but they work hard and have skills ... They just need experience ... Or they need an older, experienced player to show the younger players what it takes to succeed professionally ... Maybe that fourth foreign player will bring that experience." Chung on fan interest in New York/New Jersey "Winning games will help ... We've seen that here in New York/New Jersey ... If you lose they're against you, if you win they're for you." Chung on MetroStars' chemistry "Bora believes in chemistry, that it is important to teams on and off the field ... It's what he does best ... He may be looking for another foreigner, and we'll see how that affects our current chemistry ... As time goes on, we will win a lot of games and more people will notice ... You really have to produce here in New York." Gazidis on signing Galaxy draft pick Seth George "No progress ... Seth is under contract in Europe ... We don't propose to pay a transfer fee ... We're waiting for that situation to resolve itself, but we're hopeful." Gazidis on replacing Jaime Caicedo Estupinan [the 17-year-old Ecuadoran waived last week] "The Galaxy has not asked us about a player ... We've had conversations with [Galaxy Head Coach] Sigi [Schmid] ... He's looking for someone who can help the team, and of course having an international spot makes the world wider." Logan on reconciliation of fans of different ethnicities "It's an assimilation issue ... I believed in the first two or three years it was important to whet the appetite of fans to have them sample our product ... In the long term, we should follow the example that Chicago acheived quite rapidly last year, with Spanish fans cheering in Polish, etc. ... Fans ultimately want their team to be competitive and win and play attractive soccer ... You can go crazy in multiethnic communities like New York and Miami in trying to give everyone one of their own ... From time to time you will get anomalies, like those in Washington ... However, a good number of Salvadoran fans have come back to RFK Stadium." Logan on MLS fans being shortchanged during U.S. national team conflicts "United is impacted the most, but Bruce and I have reached an agreement that in matches like that [June 13 against Argentina and the Confederations Cup] that we will put the best players forward to best represent the country ... D.C. has handled the adversity quite well in the past, as they develop depth in their squad which could be an asset down the road this year ... We are committed to provide Bruce the best players he needs to put the best team on the field."
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