There's plenty going on in the soccer world, so let’s dive right into this week's ‘Bag:
What’s your take on this [from @soccerinsider]?
3 lowest payrolls in MLS: 1. Red Bulls 2. Dallas 3. D.C. United
Supporters' Shield standings: 1. Red Bulls 2. Dallas 3. D.C. United
In the final week of the MLS regular season, it is indeed striking that the three teams with the three lowest payrolls are also the teams that have had the best three regular seasons. But my main takeaway from this information, as well as performance of teams in recent years, is that MLS has done a pretty good job with the Designated Player rules, in the sense that competitive balance has been largely consistent whether you decide to go big on payroll and have three DPs or spend less and have more balance on the payroll side.
For the first few years of the DP rule, teams that bought DPs never won the MLS Cup title. But the LA Galaxy has become something of a dynasty, winning three of the last four MLS Cups while making extensive use of the DP rule. I’d be a lot more concerned if only the teams that were spending the most money were doing the best on the field.
The Confederations Cup is a synthetic tournament with no international pedigree. So why is it a big deal the U.S. didn't make it?
Well, you won’t see me talking anywhere about the “sanctity of the Confederations Cup.” But that’s not really the point. For the U.S., being in the Confed Cup is better than not being in it for a couple reasons. On the field, it’s good anytime the U.S. can play top-level teams in competitive (non-friendly) situations, especially a year before the World Cup. Off the field, it’s good to gain a familiarity with things on the ground in the country that’s hosting the World Cup, and in a country where soccer is still growing, events like the U.S.’s 2009 run to the Confed Cup final are moments that help soccer awareness grow in the United States.
3 "realistic" replacements for Jurgen Klinsmann?
O.K., I’ll play along: Tab Ramos, the U.S. Under-20 coach, youth technical director and Klinsmann assistant, is a U.S. lifer and has been inside the program lately, so he’s well aware of the current landscape.
Bruce Arena, who coached the U.S. from 1998 to 2006 and reached the World Cup 2002 quarterfinals, could hit the ground running and be trusted to steady the ship during World Cup qualifying. (Arena told FS1’s Alexi Lalas that he’d be interested in coaching the U.S. again under the right circumstances.) And Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, who’s currently out of a job, has drawn interest from the U.S. before.
El Loco’s favored style would be an intriguing one for this country.
How does Sunil Gulati "earn" his position / how can someone else replace him?
Gulati has a lot of positions—FIFA executive committee, U.S. Soccer president, CONCACAF executive committee—but I assume you’re referring to his USSF presidency.
Gulati has now run unopposed in the last three U.S. Soccer presidential elections, each one having a four-year term. The next election is in 2018. U.S. Soccer used to have term limits for its presidency (they forced Alan Rothenberg out in 1998 after two four-year terms), but the federation no longer has those term limits, so in theory Gulati could end up being president for life. But there is a movement afoot in FIFA to institute term limits, not just for the FIFA president and FIFA executives but also potentially for national federation presidents around the world.
We’ll see what comes of it—and if anyone emerges in U.S. Soccer to challenge Gulati in 2018.
How should Americans pronounce "derby" when it comes to cross-town rivalry games? "Darby" just feels so silly.
I’m an inclusive guy on the words people use in this sport, but if you feel silly saying “darby” then you can always just say “cross-town rivalry,” right?
With the National Soccer Hall of Fame moving to Frisco, Tex., will we see more national team friendlies there? Almost something like the NFL HOF weekend?
I certainly think it’s a possibility that with the annual Hall of Fame inductions taking place in Frisco, you could see an annual U.S. men’s or women’s game at the same time to draw media and fans in conjunction with it. For those of us who care about the history of U.S. soccer, it’s fantastic that the Hall of Fame will have a home again after going several years without one. There’s a growing positive vibe about the MLS stadium in Frisco these days after there had been questions about it before. That’s a good thing.
If you had to wear a toupee, what style would it be?
Probably something like what I wore for my Vincent Tan costume for Halloween last year.
Where were you when USA 3 Portugal 2 happened?
In the stadium in Suwon. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing with the U.S. going up 3-0 in the first half and holding on for a huge three points against Portugal and the reigning World Player of the Year Luís Figo. Still think the pass from Tony Sanneh to Brian McBride for No. 3 is one of the greatest U.S. goals of all time.
One of my favorite stories ever: I was staying in the same hotel as U.S. friends and family, and in the elevator the next day Tony Sanneh’s mother saw a guy in a Figo Portugal jersey. Her words to him: “My son marked your son yesterday.” The look on the guy’s face was priceless.
Are you able to enjoy your Royals and MLB in a special way since you don't write about them? (Sports fan vs. sports journalist.)
Of course. Due to my soccer journalism gig, I can’t really be a fan of a team. Having that option for teams like the Royals is great. Plus, it reminds me how a lot of my soccer readers view following their sport and their teams.
Did Jozy Altidore really walk out on the SI Planet Fútbol podcast a couple of weeks ago?
Nope. We were just having fun with the whole thing in an Andy Kauffman type way. I thought Altidore played the part really well.