MLS: Quotes from March 30 media teleconference

The following are quotes from the March 30 MLS media teleconference, which featured MLS commissioner Doug Logan, MLS Executive VP Ivan Gazidis, Los Angeles coach Octavio Zambrano and San Jose coach Brian Quinn. Doug Logan Opening Remarks "On our part for me personally and on behalf of the league, we're saying a prayer for peace in the Balkans ... Many of our coaches and players have family and loved ones there ... We are hoping for an end to the conflict which is impacting our family ... We hope the stand-down and the cease-fire comes to fruition ... At the quickest possible juncture we hope for peace to come to this region." "I'm going to Dallas for the two SuperCup matches on Wednesday and then to Los Angeles on Thursday for discussions with Mauricio Cienfuegos and Raul Diaz Arce ... We are taking a rather disciplined position in terms of not negotiating publicly ... Both players are under contract and we expect them to play this weekend ... We've made aggressive offers to extend the number of years on their contracts ... We have a great deal of respect for both players both on the field and personally ... We hope to reach agreements in the very near future." "I thought we had five pretty good games in terms of refereeing this past weekend ... We did look at the third goal of the Chicago-San Jose match in Week One and agree that assistant referee Roger Itaya made an excellent call on that goal ... We looked at all three goals in the Chicago-Kansas City match from this past weekend and all three were close calls ... There was evidence of an offside trap being employed by Kansas City and MLS Player of the Week Ante Razov has proven to become quite adept at playing those razor-thin margins ... The referees, if there is a closeness to the call, are giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacker." "I'm pleased with the matches that we saw last weekend, and we have several excellent matches coming up ... One positive note out of Tampa Bay is that they have managed to sell an additional 1,000 season tickets since the last game and it looks as though Tampa Bay will be in excess of 4,000 season tickets on the season." Ivan Gazidis Opening Remarks "On the offside calls in Kansas City, two of the non-calls are great decisions ... Although appearances sometimes were deceptive, we commend that referee's assistant for the decisions." "We have a roster cutdown date on April 1 where teams have to be down to 20 players ... There will be a Waiver Draft on Monday, April 5 at 4 p.m. ET ... the draft order is in the reverse order of finish from last season." Octavio Zambrano Opening Remarks "The team still has yet to reach its full potential ... but the young players are learning and playing well ... as we play more games, we will improve." Zambrano on the defensive nature of some teams in the league "I guess it is a sign of maturity ... We've lost a little of the innocence from the first season ... I remember quite clearly at the beginning of the league a directive that this league was one where coaches were encouraged to play a wide-open style of soccer ... We here in Los Angeles followed that directive ... The style has changed ... I'm not saying that it's wrong ... it's just a sign of the times." Logan on the defensive nature of some teams in the league "We came out of the blocks with 4.2 goals per game that has dropped in week 2 ... There shouldn't be a universal dictum that says what style to play ... One of the most dangerous jobs is that of an MLS coach in terms of longevity... I've seen some very wide open matches this season ... I'm not overly concerned ... The fact that Mr. Zambrano may have a difference of opinion with some of his Western Conference coaching colleagues makes life exciting." "We have created some financial incentives for teams to play an offensive style and score goals ... Margins of victory and goal output are rewarded ... I don't buy into this overmystified theory of coaches all over the world playing a defensive style ... I know that I'm not supposed to be commenting on the game so I do this with some degree of risk ... This prejudging is overmystified and as a fan I've been pretty entertained." On coaches' criticism of each other "We have no policy, otherwise we would have had to draw and quarter (Kansas City's Ron) Newman and (Columbus' Tom) Fitzgerald ... There's no muzzling policy." Logan on the contract negotiation for Raul Diaz Arce and Mauricio Cienfuegos "Both players are under contract for the next two years, so there was no compelling reason to renegotiate ... They are two players who are playing but want to be paid more in future years ... We have two players who are under contracts ... We can't just rip them up and renegotiate, because otherwise the integrity of the contracts we have with 240 players goes out the window." Gazidis on the contract negotiation for Raul Diaz Arce and Mauricio Cienfuegos "This process is not taking any longer than any other negotiating process we've had with other players ... This time it has just pushed into our season ... So its the period of time that is unusual." Logan on the contract negotiation for Raul Diaz Arce and Mauricio Cienfuegos "It is not my intent nor is it in my interest to get into a tit-for-tat with Raul Diaz Arce or Mauricio Cienfuegos in a public forum ... I am hopeful that both players honor their contract ... Withholding our services at the end of the day is an option that all of us have ... We have made a very aggressive proposal to both players ... We want them both to be a part of our league for a long time to come ... They have choices to make ... I expect both of them to be eminent professionals and good friends and negotiate in good faith." "The uncertainty of them playing is not under my control ... I'm abiding by my end of the contract ... In good faith I have made them a very aggressive proposal ... Is it important enough to me to make two trips to California in 10 days? Yes, obviously it is." Zambrano on the preponderance of knee injuries this season "It's part of the risk of playing the game ... But I also think that when players are playing in two leagues or they have an extended playng time with their club and their national team they are overloaded and they wear their bodies down ... They want to maximize their exposure and playing time and that's when injuries happen." Brian Quinn on the preponderance of knee injuries this season "I concur with Octavio ... Also, it's coincidence -- injuries happen anytime and anyplace." Logan on Kansas City's opening-day crowd (15,509 - fifth-largest in team history) "It was a terrific crowd ... We've got a good many Saturday nights in Kansas City, so I'm encouraged, and also with the merging of the Wizards' and Chiefs' marketing departments ... (Wizards coach Ron) Newman just needs to hold up his end on the field as the dean of MLS coaches." "Kansas City put a lot of hopes on a terrific goalkeeper (Tony Meola) who will be out and Newman, with the talent he has, will have the team improve with a bit of luck ... What's encouraging is what is being done in the market itself." Logan on the MetroStars' opening-day crowd (20,304) "I'm pleased with what I saw at Giants Stadium ... The fans came in and it was cold and windy, but 20 minutes into the game they came alive ... Then this Saturday night a tanned and rested D.C. United team comes in ... The MetroStars and New York is the prism this league is looked through ... It is extraordinarily important for them to do well." Logan on Fusion attendance "I am concerned ... I talked to Ken Horowitz yesterday and the day before ... We're hopeful that they will take their fortunes and force them in another direction ... We are in constant communication with all 12 of our clubs, and some of Ken Horowitz' moves are in the right direction ... We're not doing anything differently with them than we did with the other 12 teams ... It's just a lot of hard work to develop a brand and we have to have the patience to ride through it and were seeing signs in many markets, including those that struggled for three years." Logan on establishing the MLS brand/product "That we're trying to establish a brand nationally is a factor of why we would continue to pursue expansion ... Television is also a big driver and right now we don't have a big enough footprint nationally ... I would love to refrain from expanding until we have 12 healthy teams in 12 booming markets ... But our TV partners and others think that 16-20 teams is the right amount for a coast-to-coast footprint." Logan on the Project-40 allocation process "Project 40 assignments to date have been arbitrary, based on need by the teams, and other factors, including geography, where we think the player will develop, where his prior relationships with coaches, etc. are ... We've done a good job ... In the next 12 months we will have a more structured system." Gazidis on the Project-40 allocation process "Graduation from the program is a postive sign ... It shows that a P-40 allocation was strong, now that a player, just one year later, no longer needs roster protection." Logan on Steve Cherundolo signing with Hanover (German Second Division) instead of Project-40 "It's a matter of gradations and we have to play the numbers game ... If we had the policy that we signed everyone we want regardless of price then I would say that's the quickest way to bankruptcy ... Some players will sign and some won't ... Some will leave the league and for some it will be a good move and for others it won't and some of them will turn around and quickly come back ... We recognize that if we and a first division team from any one of 4 or 5 other countries are going after the same player, that they have more resources than we do." Logan on MetroStars' foreign allocation "Nothing to report at this time ... Bora is trying to make up his mind between 3-4 players and it's also a positional issue ... When (Costa Rican forward Roy) Myers and (Colombian defender Arley) Palacios come back into the team it could change the dynamic of the team." Logan on the two-referee experiment "Other leagues will start with the two referee experiment in the fall ... If we were to participate, we would not implement it this season ... We will have to prepare the referees to do the necessary training, therefore we would need to have advance notice." Zambrano on the Supporters Shield (an honor bestowed by fan organizations to the team with the best regular-season record, owned by the L.A. Galaxy in 1998) "I am elated and honored because it is the fans who make this game what it is ... It's a way of recognizing what you do in the regular season, which I think should count for more than just home-field advantage in the playoffs." Logan on the Supporters Shield "As a commissioner I am pleased to have the fan's involvement in recognizing our regular-season champion ... As a fan, I donated $100 to the making of the shield and can't wait to see it."
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