- This week's mailbag answers your questions on FC Dallas's MLS Cup hopes without Mauro Diaz, Bob Bradley and Brian Schmetzer.
Lots to talk about on Planet Fútbol (as always), including the final day of the MLS regular season with all games starting at 4 p.m. ET Sunday. So I’m answering your questions in the latest ‘Bag. Ready, set, go!
What kind of odds do you give FC Dallas in the MLS Cup chase without Mauro Díaz? (@JWinMcK)
It’s a real shame that Díaz’s torn Achilles means he’ll miss not just the MLS playoffs but many months after that. Does it hurt FCD’s chances of winning MLS Cup? I think it does in a big way, unfortunately. Díaz deserves MVP votes, and Dallas just doesn’t have anyone quite like him. We’ve seen teams like Colorado do amazingly well this year with talent that shouldn’t equal one of the league’s best teams, but in the crucible of the playoffs I just don’t see Dallas surviving in the wake of both Díaz’s injury and Fabián Castillo’s departure for Turkey.
Does Garth Lagerwey remove the interim tag from Brian Schmetzer at the end of the season? He seems to have passed his audition. (@On3Lung)
I think it’s still very much up in the air. On the one hand, Schmetzer has gotten the wins that have put Seattle in a position to win this weekend and be in for the playoffs. But it needs to be pointed out: Just making the MLS playoffs shouldn’t be considered some sort of great achievement when 12 of 20 teams qualify for the postseason. If Seattle gets to the MLS Cup final, it’s almost certain that Schmetzer will stick around. But if the Sounders don’t make it that far, I think there’s a decent chance that Lagerwey hires someone else for one of MLS’s marquee coaching positions.
If you could make one MLS trade this offseason that would help both the players and teams what would it be? (@TheMikeDonovan)
I’d like to see NYCFC trade Mix Diskerud to Portland for Lucas Melano. They both need a change of scenery badly, and they’re both making almost exactly the same base salary, with Melano at $760,000 and Diskerud at $761,250 per the MLS Players Union. Portland was interested in Diskerud a couple years ago, and Melano could bring some added speed out wide for NYCFC. One stumbling block: Diskerud is not a Designated Player, and Melano counts as one. But NYCFC could potentially pay down Melano’s DP salary with TAM.
Is Bob Bradley set up for success? Does Swansea have any talent or money to spend? (@JPointelin)
If success means staying up this season and getting into the top half of the Premier League next season, then I think it’s possible but by no means guaranteed for Bradley to be successful. Remember, even the smallest Premier League teams get more TV income these days than, say, AC Milan, so they should be able to make some purchases in the market. The fact that Bradley has shown a good eye for talent and has maximized his relatively low budgets in the past suggests that he can bring good new players to Swansea.
Thoughts on the report of Columbus looking into building a new stadium? (@DRock_18)
I think a new stadium in Columbus would be great and spoke about the possibilities down the road when I interviewed owner Anthony Precourt last year. Mapfre Stadium is historic in its own way, both for being MLS’s first soccer-specific stadium and for hosting four (soon to be five) USA-Mexico World Cup qualifiers over the years. But in and of itself, the stadium is outdated and could use to be replaced rather than simply upgraded.
Would the 250th birthday celebrations of the U.S. and hosting the World Cup make 2026 the best summer in one place of all time?(@miket412)
I hadn’t thought about the U.S.’s 250th birthday taking place during a potential World Cup 2026, which is now heavily favored to go (partly or entirely) to the U.S. We all remember the U.S.-Brazil second round game that took place on July 4, 1994, and you can only imagine what something like that might be like on Independence Day in ’26—when you would certainly hope that a U.S. team on home soil might be a threat to go really deep in that tournament.
Over/under on Minnesota United wins? (@4rest4thetrees)
Part of me wants to wait until we see the players Minnesota United puts out on the field next spring. But I make a lot of calls around MLS, and I can’t tell you how many coaches, GMs and agents there are who are saying Minnesota in its first year might be one of the worst teams in MLS history on the field. It doesn’t help Minnesota that it’s being compared to Atlanta, which looks set to be competitive in season one on the field and perhaps near the top of the league in terms of attendance and atmosphere. One thing that people in Minnesota do say, however, is that in a couple years they’ll be playing in their own stadium on grass at a time when Atlanta is playing in an NFL stadium on artificial turf. And that’s a pretty good point. Anyway, to answer your question, Chicago and Houston have the lowest number of wins in MLS at seven. Over/under for Minnesota in 2017 is five.
Will Messi ever win a World Cup? (@Rawan)
Will Argentina even make it to the World Cup? (@_Zeets)
So much doom and gloom about Argentina these days! Sadly, it’s true that the Argentines have been garbage lately whenever Messi has not been involved. And it’s true that they’re in fifth place in South American World Cup qualifying with a game against Brazil at the Mineirão looming on November 10. But Messi is back scoring hat tricks for Barcelona and will be involved in the upcoming qualifiers, which should be a huge confidence boost for an Argentina team that needs it. They’ll make it to Russia 2018, and once they’re in, this is still a team that can win it. (Unless Gonzalo Higuaín starts in the final.)
From a journalistic standpoint - who is your all-time favorite player you've interviewed? (@LindseyGMurphy)
I learned a lot this year doing the interviews for my four-part SI series Total Fútbol interviewing Manuel Neuer, Vincent Kompany, Xabi Alonso and Chicharito Hernández about the craft of their positions from goalkeeper to forward. There are several other players who’ve been at the top end of my favorite interviews, like Xavi, Landon Donovan, Didier Drogba, David Beckham, Abby Wambach, Hérculez Gómez and Luis Suárez. I always want to interview people who are thoughtful and interested in talking to me, and thankfully soccer players tend to fit that description.