For the first-ever TBM mailbag, questions came in from several close friends of the blog. We discuss Steve's wardrobe, Revs predictions and strikers, Kelyn Rowe, Bobby Shuttleworth as a hockey player, Olivier Kapo, soccer in America, and even finish up with a question for New England Revolution fans from Phil Schoen himself.
All right guys, welcome to our very first weekly mailbag feature! We've decided that, in an effort to continue fostering community interaction and growth, allowing you guys to send in emails and get answers from us is a logical next step. We hope you'll engage with us on this.
Now, I know I didn't solicit questions from many of you this week. What I wanted to do was have a small set of questions in place already so that you could all read and get a decent idea of what we're looking for and what you can do to be a part of this. Therefore, I took questions from a few people to give you guys a look at what I mean.
For this week, here are the general rules:
- Questions are submitted to email@example.com
- Questions can be on any topic. Revs, MLS, soccer, life, giant mutant space aliens...anything. We just won't post anything offensive.
- There is no set timeframe for questions. You can submit any time. However, the mailbag will be posted on Sundays...therefore, the cutoff to be in that week's mailbag is Friday night at 5 PM EST. Any submissions after that will be forwarded to the next week.
- Unless you specifically ask for a particular writer to answer your questions, they will be assigned randomly to each writer. Except this week. That was all me.
So that should settle it. On to this week's questions! Oh, and feel free to give your own answers to these questions in the comments if you disagree. And don't forget to check out the question for the audience at the end! It's from someone who is kind of a celebrity!
Hank Alexandre, The Midnight Ride Podcast: Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?
Steve: I'll give you the answer to that question, Mr. Alexandre, next Saturday. Don't mess with the bull, young man, you'll get the horns.
David Wilson, Soccer Tickets Online: How do you think the Revs will do this year? Will they reach the playoffs?
Steve: I think they'll do better than last year, but no, I don't think they'll make the playoffs. I predict a 6th place finish and I'm sticking to it, but I really do think they'll be in the playoff hunt till the bitter end. For me, that's an improvement I can be very, very happy with. I expect 2014 to be a real turning point for this team, and 2013 will lay the foundation for it.
Monty Rodrigues: Who do you see starting at striker for the Revs in the home opener?
Steve: With both Bengtson and Sene out for the home opener, Heaps is going to have a serious selection headache. Honestly, after Saturday's match, I wouldn't be surprised to see Heaps run a one-striker lineup again. If he does, I think Chad Barrett gets the nod. He's got the experience, and he's a real bulldog up top, using his physicality to create space and chances for others. Don't be surprised to see Diego Fagundez, either. As much as Heaps seems to like Dimitry Imbongo's game, I think he'll remain a substitute for this one.
Hank Alexandre: Kelyn Rowe has shown glimpses of his prowess when plays centrally, but seems to get lost when playing wide - How is Jay Heaps going to integrate Kelyn Rowe into the attack with so many central midfielders available?
Steve: Well, as we saw on Saturday, I think he'll remain out wide. However, with all the attacking talent Heaps has in the midfield, I think we're going to start seeing a policy of fluidity in the attacking midfield realm, so Rowe isn't necessarily going to be married to the wing. With guys like Rowe, Nguyen, Toja, and Dorman all able to play the wing and the middle, I'm willing to bet that Heaps is going to give them all license to switch and roam, giving the defense fits and letting them all use their strengths to maximum effect.
For Rowe, this year's gonna have to be about consistency. I think his numbers last year were good enough, and if he can just improve on his general, everyday play, he'll become an integral part of the attack whether he's wide or central.
David Wilson: Will the mainstream Boston media devote any time to soccer in the U.S.?
Steve: I think they already do in some cases, but honestly I'm not sure. With new blood going into the Corner Kicks blog at the Boston Globe, I think the web presence in "mainstream Boston media" will absolutely have a bigger U.S. Soccer and Revolution perspective. But the print and TV media? I don't know. I'm sure U.S. national team games will get plenty of play, but the Revs will need to be winning to get coverage.
Jim Powers: Do the Revs go after Kapo again this summer?
Steve: Tough call. The Revs' final roster spot also carries the possibility of being an international thanks to the open international slot, and Mike Burns has already announced the team's intention to use that last spot on an international forward. That's exactly what Olivier Kapo happens to be. Do the stars align?
Then again, so is Marko Jesic, and he actually had preseason experience with the Revs. I think what it comes down to is availability. Kapo ended up staying in Europe on a six-month contract extension, while Jesic left, possibly because he's still under contract in Australia. Burns indicated at the Supporters' Summit that Kapo is someone they'd revisit over the summer when his contract is up, but that's hardly a commitment.
Right now, we only know of two international forwards in whom the Revs have shown interest. I think Jesic has a slightly better shot than Kapo, but I could be wrong, and there could be any number of other possibilities on the list. I'd put the odds at 1 in 3, but don't quote me on that.
David Wilson: What does MLS need to do to grow the sport further?
Steve: They need to stay the course and be aggressive. The salary cap needs to keep going up, and honestly, they might need to bump it up at a faster pace than they have been. It's about attracting more local talent and keeping it here, while establishing the league as the dominant power in the CONCACAF region.
Marketing-wise, the league is on the right path, but some markets need a kick in the ass. Furthermore, the league's decision to pursue a second New York team as aggressively as they have - seemingly at the expense of better options - is questionable at best. If they pull that off, though...it could mean the sky is the limit for this league.
Once every MLS team is in a favorable venue (I say favorable because Seattle really doesn't need an SSS with the way that CenturyLink works for them) the league will immediately be in a stronger position, and will continue to grow. We're moving into a generation where up and coming adults do not know a world where MLS didn't exist, and that's going to reflect in the league's growth big-time.
David Wilson: Where will the United States finish in its World Cup Qualifying group?
Steve: That's a tough call, but I think they'll pull out second place. Losing to Honduras was a blow, but home turf is definitely going to be a determining factor in the Hex and I think the US will hold firm on American soil. Mexico will probably win the group, and Honduras will absolutely give the Yanks a run, but I think the US comes in second regardless.
Sarah Connors, Stanley Cup of Chowder: Which Revs player would be the best at hockey?
Steve: You know, last season we had a guy from Sweden named Bjorn Runstrom at the start of the season, and I think he would have won that one hands-down. This season it's a lot tougher. I think it might be backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. He's from Tonawanda, New York, so you know he's used to ice and cold (and Canadians), and he's also big. I mean, really big. He's listed at 6'2" 195, but take it from a guy who is also not small at all, he cuts an imposing figure. If he can skate, I figure he's at least a good goalie. Or maybe a goon; I know I wouldn't want to have to fight him.
QUESTION FOR THE AUDIENCE?!
Former GolTV and current BeIN Sport announcer and commentator Phil Schoen submitted the following as a question to the Revolution fan base. Go ahead and answer it in the comments!
Phil Schoen: Revs fans who've stopped going to Foxboro...what will it take to get you to return? A winning team? A downtown stadium? New owners?