WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, July 30, 2004) - The following is a compilation of quotes from 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Press Conference at RFK Stadium:
D.C. UNITED & EAST HEAD COACH PETER NOWAK
On coaching the All-Star Game:
"It is a privilege and an honor to be the [East] All-Star coach, but I know why I am here. My team brought me here and all the credit goes to them because they have played very good soccer to this point. As the Commissioner said, we will celebrate the past, but we will also show the future, and we have the veterans and the future of American soccer on our team.
"We have players that have established themselves at the international level and we also have the talents the League has produced every single year like Eddie Gaven, Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey - all these players have come through MLS and have proven to us that they can play on the international level. This is what this League is all about - it is about the past, the present and the future."
LOS ANGELES GALAXY & WEST HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
On being part of the All-Star festivities:
"I am also very honored for being here. I want to thank my team for putting me in this position this year. Last year was an exciting and tumultuous year for me, so to be in this position this year is a pleasant surprise ... What you'll see out there Saturday is a lot of talented players having a lot of fun, going to goal and showcasing all the exquisite talents they have. This is a reflection of this League and what it has developed."
"It is also special especially nice to be here this weekend. Having been a part of the 1994 World Cup Team (as assistant coach), it is nice to see Marcelo [Balboa] and a lot of the guys who are not playing as much anymore. It has brought back a lot of memories. I remember Bora [Milutinovic] before the World Cup always used to say, 'The World Cup is a long ways away, but the World Cup is tomorrow.' Looking back, it seems like the '94 World Cup was a long ways back, but it seems like it was only yesterday.
On coaching in the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game:
"Every day I wake up and thank a lot of people that are involved in soccer that provided me to be able to coach in this League. I know all the players are thankful for the opportunity to play in this League and tomorrow is a celebration of our thanks to the League, the fans, the media and to everyone for the opportunities this League has presented to us."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES & WEST DEFENDER & CAPTAIN JEFF AGOOS
On playing in his ninth All-Star Game:
"As far as this game goes, being a defender it's not that fun. All the midfielders and forwards get to go forward, and a couple of defenders, and they kind of wave goodbye and never come back. For us it's a lot of work, but it's fun. It is fun being around these guys, and it is especially fun seeing the guys from the past, guys from the '94 team and al the way up to today.
On what the 2004 MLS All-Star Game represents:
"This is definitely a sport of the past, the present and the future, and it is all before you this weekend. I don't think you realize how special you are to be around this type of group but I know I do. It will be an entertaining game tomorrow. Hopefully the West will win. I expect to be a pretty high scoring event, even with no defenders."
METROSTARS AND EAST DEFENDER & CAPTAIN EDDIE POPE
On the significance of the 2004 All-Star Game:
"I'll agree with Jeff [Agoos], this is not the greatest game for defenders, but we'll try to make the most of it. The whole point is for it to be an exciting game, and I'm sure it will be. This is certainly representing the past, present and future, so it is an honor for me to be here and be around the guys from the '94 World Cup and to be around the young guys like Eddie [Gaven] and Freddy [Adu]. It is an honor to be kind of the go-between between those guys and I'm looking forward to a great game tomorrow and watching those guys create a new name for themselves."
MLS WORLD LEGEND MIDFIELDER MARCO ETCHEVERRY
On returning to play on D.C. United's home field after an eight-year career at the club:
"I'm so happy to be here playing in my old stadium, RFK Stadium, and I'm happy to play against players like Peter [Nowak] and Marcelo [Balboa] again. I still love soccer. My situation not playing anymore professionally is a little different for me, but I still love soccer."
MLS USA LEGEND DEFENDER MARCELO BALBOA
On playing in the Reunion Game:
"It is an honor for us to be here and get together with a bunch of the old guys. It is hard to say you're old at 36, but when you watch Eddie Gaven and Freddy Adu run around, you feel pretty darn old ... We are going to go out and have fun. I realize why the World All-Stars and World Cup Team will play first because by the time you see the [MLS All Stars] play their game the pace is going to be phenomenal. You'll see us in slow motion and then watch these guys - it will look like a World Cup game."
On what has been achieved in the sport of soccer since 1994:
"We weren't fortunate enough to have MLS back then. We just trained as a group and did the best we could and we helped soccer grow a lot. MLS and the [U.S. Soccer] Federation having us here, honoring us, is great and we appreciate that. I think we're all here for the same reason, to see MLS keep growing. Being a former player, we all like to keep involved in the game and help the game keep growing because we want our kids to play. Personally, with Kroenke Sports building a stadium in Colorado, it opens up a lot of youth opportunities to help train our kids in Colorado, and that is for me the most exciting part."
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER COMMISSIONER DON GARBER
On the economic viability of soccer:
"The League is far more economically viable than at any other time in the nine years of Major League Soccer. We will reach profitability in the near future, but we are still at an early stage in the life span of our business when we are heavily investing back into the sport. There is an influx of revenue, that is not distributed back to our owners but that is invested into building stadiums, signing new players and into funding our youth development system that we'll have next year, so it is hard to look at it in absolute or black-and-white terms.
"The owner of one of the more legendary soccer teams on the continent, if perhaps throughout the world, Jorge Vergara of Chivas has invested $10 million to buy the rights to buy a Major League Soccer team in Los Angeles. Dave Checketts - who ran the [New York] Knicks, [New York] Rangers and MSG [Network] and is arguably one of the top handful of sports entrepreneurs in the country. He sat down and decided he wanted to invest in Major League Soccer. He has looked at baseball teams and NBA teams and he bought a soccer team for $10 million. The best way to answer the economic position question is the market is determining that and the market has placed value on that."
On whether he struggled when determining to use one of his two Commissioners picks on Freddy Adu:
"There were two picks. One was Jason Kreis, one of the great founding players in Major League Soccer and a player who surpassed the goal scoring record a couple of weeks ago, and the second was Freddy [Adu]. We recognize with these games that it is part about competition, part about celebration - in this case recognizing the past - and it is part about fun. People want to see Freddy (Adu). He is a young, fun, exciting guy and it is a great opportunity for people on national television and people in the stadium to see him. We'll have to ask [East coach Peter Nowak] whether he'll play, but it's want people want and we didn't struggle with it at all."
On the possibility of the relegation system in American soccer:
"Could you imagine when Daniel Snyder bought the Washington Redskins and, as they were going through the transition from previous ownership and team management to where they are today, they had a lousy season and they'd be playing in a minor league? Or imagine the New York Yankees finishing last and playing in Triple-A. While we are doing everything we can to align our game with the international following, with the hardcore fan connection with our sport and having the same rules and playing in the same format and environment, there are things about our game that will be different, and promotion and relegation is one of those things. You never say never, but it's not going to be something that we'll see happening any time soon."
On the development of American soccer and young American players:
"The story of the evolution and development of the game in this country could not have been scripted to turn out the way it has. When our National Team went to the World Cup in '94 we were rated 27th, and today we're rated 7th - by the way, ahead of England, ahead of Germany and ahead of Portugal. The bottom line is the increased level of respect for the game in this country has happened so quickly that when you look at what's going to happen in the next 10 to 20 years, with the development of our League, our coaches and the youth system, the future for this sport competitively in this country is outstanding. It is almost incomprehensible what could happen at some point in the years to come.
"And it's not just about the U.S. National Team ... The numbers of young players of all ethnicities that are coming out of the grass roots system and are playing competitively and ultimately have world class potential is a flowing river that will never stop. The future is very bright."
On expanding the international player pool with expansion:
"The good news is that next year there will be a minimum of 50 new jobs for players in Major League Soccer. Add to that at least two coaches and probably two or three assistants and another 20 or 30 administrators at each club and that's a good story. We are taking a step back to ensure that we expand in a way that we can manage the expansion of our product competitively in a way that will allow us to increase the quality of play.
"Many other leagues in their history have made a mistake by expanding too quickly and diluting their player pool. We are looking very carefully, and this came from the meeting with our coaches and general managers this morning, about potential expansion of our international slots and not just on the senior level but on the youth international side.
"And the fact that we will have a developmental league next year, providing significantly larger rosters, will allow us to manage the development of the player pool while we're managing the growth of the League strategically into new markets. One of the benefits we have being a new league is that we can learn from the mistakes that every other league has made over the last hundred years and at least try to be smart enough to not make those same mistakes, and I think we'll carefully manage the player aspect of expansion."