Q&A with the SA Editors: March 26, 1999

Pete Bailey: Here is some more information on Chicago Fire midfielder Diego Gutierrez, courtesy of Bob Rusert, the assistant coach at Blue Springs (Mo.) High School, which Gutierrez attended: "Diego was not a foreign exchange student at our school. He played here during his junior and senior years of high school. By definition, an exchange student can only attend a school for one year and then must return to his native country for at least one year. "His original plan was to come to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student. He chose Blue Springs because he had some cousins here. For whatever reason, however, Diego and his family decided to move to Blue Springs, a suburban community 15 miles east of Kansas City. Only his mother and sister came at first; Diego's father came during his senior year, in 1991. "Diego was a great player here as well as a great person. We have enjoyed watching him develop and wish him further success." Chris Schlosser Waterville, Maine I was wondering if more MLS teams have stadium plans in the works. With Miami, Columbus, San Jose and D.C. United all having soccer-conducive stadiums, it would seem like the other clubs would be working hard on new stadium possibilities. Also, if MLS, expands will a soccer specific stadium be part of the deal? Ridge Mahoney: In our MLS preview (March 22 issue of SA), Commissioner Doug Logan said such stadiums are being researched for the MetroStars, Colorado and Los Angeles. I think Dallas would be another likely site, but as a league-run team, it has little chance of arranging financing. Tampa is apparently throwing all its chips into the new Raymond James Stadium, and if major league baseball returns to D.C. (the Astros or Expos are rumored to be moving), United might have to move to the Redskins' home at Jack Kent Cooke stadium. If Chicago continues to draw well, it wouldn't surprise me to see Phil Anschutz check out a home for the Fire. Many teams pay onerous rental fees in their stadium leases, and receive very small percentages -- if anything -- of lucrative revenue streams for concessions, parking, luxury boxes, etc. The issue of expansion is up in the air, since still MLS is piggybacking on NFL plans (new stadium in Philadelphia, question marks in Houston). This is unfortunate, but remember stadiums were a part of the original MLS business plan, and were scrapped due to financing concerns. It is still nearly impossible for MLS to stipulate a soccer-specific stadium as a prerequisite to expansion, since the league has little political and financial clout. First, you get the teams in a market you feel has potential, you build a fan following, then you can exploit the revenue advantages of building your own home. It took Columbus a few years and don't forget stadium measures lost twice at the ballot box, which forced Lamar Hunt to bear the burden himself. Once the other operator-investors see the financial and logistical benefits, I think more will follow -- as long as they are convinced of the league's long-term viability, which is why this season is so crucial. Daniel Crockett Lexington, Ky. I am looking for youth soccer camps in my area. How can I get a list of them? Pete Bailey: Daniel, check out the March 29 issue of SA -- it's our annual Camp Directory issue, featuring listings and information for hundreds of soccer camps throughout the U.S. To order a copy, you can call (510) 528-5000. Mike Gierlach Raleigh, N.C. Given that D.C. United is the defending champion for the CONCACAF Champions Cup, do you think MLS will get a third team invited to the competition this year? If so, do you think the Galaxy will get the nod for winning the Supporters Shield? They seem to be the most likely candidate, as the U.S. Open Cup winner (Chicago) already qualifies as MLS champion and the MLS runner-up (D.C. United) should qualify as defending champion? Any word on where the finals will be this year? Scott French: Well, Mike, it would certainly make sense for CONCACAF to give MLS a third berth, but they've not determined whether they will do so. A decision on that, as well as other tournament particulars, are expected by mid-April, maybe sooner. Chicago (MLS Champion) and D.C. United (defending champion) have already earned berths; the Galaxy would seem the likeliest No. 3 team because they owned MLS's best regular-season record. I don't believe the Supporters' Shield would wield any power. Columbus also could be the No. 3 team as (like the Galaxy) MLS semifinalists and U.S. Open Cup finalist. The United States will be considered as the site for the finals, again, but no determination has been made. RFK remains a likely spot, and I'd have to think Chicago would be considered. Maybe Florida or Southern California, too. Thomas Stagliano Wellesley, Mass. I have always held the belief that a cap is awarded only when the national team is playing in an international tournament (i.e. one in which FIFA assigns referees from neutral countries to officiate). I would not think much about this, but many articles are highlighting the "vast number" of caps won by various women soccer players (most notably several on the U.S. team.) But then I see comments that the women players in the "closed door" scrimmage with Finland earned their caps. Most of the friendly games that the U.S. women play are officiated by U.S. referees. This leads me to believe that it is a true friendly and that no cap should be "awarded" to the players. Similarly, several international male soccer players had their number of caps "reduced" recently, because they had received caps for Olympic play which is not considered a national team. What about the women soccer players? Did they receive caps for their performance in the 1996 Olympics? Paul Kennedy: 1. Thomas, while players would hardly seem to deserve caps for the closed-door matches, there's little to stop these matches from being registered as full internationals if the elements of a legitimate game are, on the field, respected (you don't need a neutral ref). U.S. Soccer set a precedent in 1989 when, days before the famous T&T game, the United States beat Bermuda, 1-0, in a closed-door "sparring match" in Florida (wins were hard to come by in those days, so it counted). 2. It's not an issue with the Olympics since there are no eligibility restrictions with the women's tournament like there always have been with the men (first amateur, then non-World Cup players for non-Third World teams, then U-23). FIFA recently ordered 54 Olympic matches stricken from U.S. Soccer's records as full internationals. (Curiously, some CONCACAF qualifiers in the late '80s met the general definition for a full international -- both teams were allowed to field their full teams.) Gail Hare Danville, Vt. In your March 1 issue of SA, Bruce Arena talks about wanting a national training center for the national team. He calls for 8-10 fields, 5,0000-seat stadium, sports medicine facilities, classroom space, and housing for the players and staff. I'm wondering whether anyone has considered the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York. On their website, it describes their new facility under construction which is almost exactly what Arena is calling for. Is there some reason that something couldn't be worked out so that the national team could train there? It sounds like a perfect match to me! Ridge Mahoney: The Oneonta site is remote, and a cold-weather site, so it might not be a great choice for the national teams most of the time. But it does have fields and other facilities, so it could be used occasionally. If the U.S. schedules a match in the Meadowlands, Oneonta might be a training site. I'd like to see one international friendly per year at the Oneonta site, not necessarily with the men's team, but either a national youth team or a women's national team. The NFL always stages a game at its Hall of Fame as part of its induction ceremonies, and such a program certainly makes sense for soccer.
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