MLS: Quotes from April 13 media teleconference

The following are quotes from the April 13 media teleconference featuring MLS Commissioner Douglas G. Logan, New England Revolution player-coach Walter Zenga, and Columbus Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald Doug Logan Opening Remarks "The first couple referee exchanges have been determined and are as follows: the No. 3-rated referee in Scotland, Stuart Dougal will do three games this season, beginning with San Jose at Los Angeles on the 24th of this month (Dougal will also run the middle on April 28th in the Columbus at Kansas City match, and on May 1st in the D.C. United at Chicago game) ... The United States' Ali Saheli will be going to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) next week to officiate the last weekend of their regular season and in their playoffs ... In return Ali Mohammed Boujain from the UAE will do four MLS games ... He is that country's top official who did the World Cup France '98 semifinal ... Boujain will do the May 22 Tampa Bay at Columbus and the May 26 Miami at Dallas games, with assignments on May 29 and June 3 to be decided ... At this time, we don't know who is going to Scotland in that exchange." "We had a couple of difficult matches this past weekend from a refereeing standpoint ... Kevin Stott, one of our more knowledgeable referees, made a mistake in the San Jose at Kansas City game, allowing goalkeeper David Winner in for Chris Snitko after Snitko was sent off for a handball in the shootout ... Stott confused the goalkeeper injury rules with the red-card rule ... Given the fact that San Jose won the game, the outcome was not affected ... Snitko was correctly sent off, but will not miss the next game as shootout guidelines regulate, since his foul was not violent." "Finally, I want to say that we're proud that referee Sandra Hunt has been picked to referee in this year's Women's World Cup ... She will run the middle in the Tampa Bay at Dallas game on Sunday, while referee Nancy Lay will run the middle in this weekend's Columbus at New England contest, with each officiating their third MLS games." "Also, I'm very pleased that the May 15 opening game in Columbus is a sellout ... Hats off to the Hunt family, Hunt Sports Group, Jamey Rootes and the Crew staff ... The last batch of tickets for the game sold out in eight minutes, as there were about 1,000 remaining." Tom Fitzgerald Opening Remarks "It's nice to see Walter Zenga back in the nets ... We feel like road warriors at this point, with three games down and four to go before the May 15 pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that will benefit not only our players but all of MLS ... Last week, we were fortunate to beat Los Angeles in a shootout ... This week, in our game with New England, Columbus will look to attack and go forward." Logan on the shootout (balancing the wishe of traditionalists and new fans) "First, I want to clarify that the shootout is not an MLS creation, it was created by others but we've adopted it ... I see the day coming where our competition committee goes a different way in determining the outcome of the games ... I maintain that it is exciting for our fans and discourages the number of draws ... If we did not have the shootout, the subject matter today would be why are we having so many draws? And the subjective commentary of what a draw represents ... Over the years, as the season has drawn on, we've had fewer games end in draws." "I can assure you that the current percentage (52 percent of games) is not going to continue or prevail ... Procedurally, in August our competition committee reviews how we play our game ... It is on their agenda this season, as it has been for three years ... It's very difficult to create an absolute criteria to determine change one way or another ... Right now, I don't know what the criteria will be for changing how we end our games." "I will say that in Chicago last weekend, there were many fairly traditional fans on their feet, extremely enthusiastic about what was going on on the playing field after a match that was scoreless in regulation." "In the next 2-3 years, I believe there will be sentiment to change our point system and do things the way they are determined around the world in various first divisions ... The subject is vigorously debated each year in the competition committee meetings ... There will be a day where the other side will prevail ... No one is neutral on the subject, but I emphasize that it is right for where we are right now ... I don't think it harms us to have something this controversial." "I honestly don't know where that decision (to have the shootout) was made... I inherited it when I became Commissioner in October of 1995 ... It is something ultimately that is vested in our Board of Governors and from the competition committee ... It is fair to say historically that there are concerns every time it comes up for discussion." "In our country, public opinion constantly criticizes the game of soccer for the draws it produces and the relatively low number of goals that are sometimes scored ... Hockey has the same issue, and the research they've done shows that overtime is not solving their problems ... They've found that 82% of the games that go to overtime end up tied after the tiebreaker anyway ... They are considering a wide number of ways to solve that problem." "Most casual fans and general sports fans favor games in which there is an outcome ... That's a fact of life ... There is a balance to weigh, but this is a wasted exercise unless MLS becomes a good business ... We have to do things that would not be detrimental to us as a business." Logan on changing the point system awarded for shootout wins and losses "We're taking a look at that ... I personally favor the point system we have now or going a more traditional route ... We've looked at the system like that of the A-League where points are awarded for shootout losses and bonus points for goals ... However, it is a confusing system ... We'll look and see ... (A-League Commissioner Francisco Marcos) does a great job at doing things in a pioneering way ... Early in the season it has been a little confusing ... It takes up a lot of time at our competition committee meetings ... However, I have a problem with what I call 'the doctrine of entitlement (if I play hard I deserve a point).'" Logan on overtime "It's a larger issue than just TV on ABC and ESPN, because it also affects Univision and our regional broadcasts by opening the window from 2 to 2.5 hours ... If you look at hockey, that doesn't necessarily drive game determination, you are in the same situation just 30 minutes later ... We have to continue the game as it is or to accept draws." Walter Zenga on the shootout For me, coming from Europe, I agree with Mr. Logan that it is a fun time made for the people .. But in the standings, I read that we have one win and 2 losses, I don't agree with that because we have not lost this season after 90 minutes ... We need to change the standings inside the MLS ... Or change the points for the shootout." Zenga on the difference from 97-99 "No difference ... My teammates are better than two years ago ... My opinion to improve the soccer is that we need to learn from Europe ... If I want to learn about basketball, I go to the United States, if I want to learn about soccer I go to Italy or Germany or Europe or Argentina or Brazil." Fitzgerald on the Crew's seven road games "The disadvantages are not seeing our home facility or seeing home fans ... But the advantage is that by winning those road games, then we build a lot of momentum before playing a lot of home games at our new stadium ... As you know we had a tremendous advantage on the narrow pitch of Ohio Stadium ... With all of our games now on a wide field, there is less of a transition ... Then coming home and being able to play in front of 22,500 then that's great, and I think that there will be more sellouts than just May 15." Fitzgerald on the shootout "Last year we were 0-5 ... Personally I don't think it's the best way, but we've started our season on the right foot with it after winning our first one ... It's a difficult issue ... We have to get past the discouragement ... it's the way we finish our games and I think that we have to be positive about it ... Some leagues overseas might be looking at it since they are discouraged with the number of ties." Zenga on Joe-Max Moore "Important player for us in the locker room ... We expect from him a great season ... We hope he does not suffer any more injuries ... He is a great player." Logan on D.C. United's home opener expectations "I'm expecting big things from D.C. ... They've done a wonderful job of increasing season tickets ... Also, it's Raul Diaz Arce's homecoming and there's momentum ... I'm encouraged by their offseason - they went to work right away, nice things happened with the Vasco game and the InterAmerican Cup ... I think they'll be leaders this year in terms of attendance ... In the throes of all those discussions with RFK, there is some tension on the United lease situation." Logan on the embarrassing condition of Soldier Field in the Fire's home opener "I was disappointed ... I almost sprained my ankle during the ring ceremony ... We've voiced our concerns very loudly ... It's as close as any field we've seen to being subject to contractual requirements for playing condition ... I was very disturbed ... They're not holding up their end of the bargain ... A wonderful crowd of [a little more of] 27,000 showed up in a hailstorm to see champions play, but not in championship conditions." Logan on Tampa Bay's crowd on Sunday, April 11 "It was a disappointing crowd in Tampa Bay after the first two games were excellent ... I'm cautiously optimistic that we can be successful in that market ... They've increased season ticket base to over 4,000 ... Hopefully Sunday was not representative of what we're going to see the rest of the year in Tampa." Logan on Tony Meola's derogatory comments on Ron Newman "Two issues at hand ... We're not going to sanction Tony, who says what's on his mind ... His remarks were strong, Ron's response was equally as strong ... At the end of the day we have a first amendment ... Before Tony puts that uniform on , there will be consequences, but they won't be from the league."
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