Tony DiCicco (6:07 PM)
Hello everybody, here we are. The World Cup action is H-O-T right now. USA and Sweeden! The history started back in 91 when USA won ... 95 Norway took it ... 96 USA eliminated Norway in the Olympics... IN 2003 Norway wond the gold in the final game. This is deep rooted. Then Germany vs. Russia, two European teams who really know each other, that's an intriguing match. Of course China vs. Canada is very interesting. That's just to name a few. This is great stuff everybody! Let's talk about it!
If a new league started today and you had the first pick, who would you take? Mia, or one of the younger emerging stars to build around for the future?
Tony DiCicco (6:09 PM)
That's a good question. Right now I think Abby Wambach is a player who has boundless potential going forward. She is athletic, strong, technical, determined ... I think that if I am building my team for the future, she is who I want. Now to a general manager, you might take Mia Hamm as she is certainly still the biggest name in women's soccer.
Charles (Madison, WI)
Tony, it's great seeing you in the commentary booth and Tisha (Venturini) Hoch doing sideline interviews. Michelle Akers sounds happy in 'retirement'. Do you have any info to catch us up with other veterans from '99 not playing in this World Cup?
Tony DiCicco (6:11 PM)
I have talked via letter, email or in person to all of them. All of them are so excited for this team right now, they are certainly a part of what is happening now. They are very very pro USA, these are their dear friends playing now and they really built this and they are aware of that foundation which they have put down. It is a very special relationship.
Jack (Oneonta, NY)
Hey Tony, hope you are doing well. You must be missing the sideline action and the coaching as you comment on the matches and think about what you would do. What is the coaching move that April has made that you are most impressed with? Why?
Tony DiCicco (6:13 PM)
Well, you're right, I am missing the sideline a bit. I very much enjoy working with Beth Mullins and the entire ESPN broadcast team. I have been impressed with a lot of April's decision. SHe waited long enough for the stars of the WUSA to prove themselves. She was very open, she waited it out, she saw how good Abby and Shannon Boxx and others were able to do late in the season and they made her decision based on that and not what has always just worked in the past. I think that is very good coaching.
Perry Stein - Flushing New York
Dear Tony- I think the WUSA can still survive, but it needs a new business model. I thin an ongoing relationship with MLS is the way to go ... do you agree?
Tony DiCicco (6:16 PM)
Well, I also agree that the WUSA can and should survive. We are looking at all the options out there ... MLS is one of the options of course. Right now the most important thing for all the fans is to let people know that you want the leauge to continue. Come with your "Save the WUSA" signs. Let folks know that this is really important to the millions and millions of young fans that look up to these players and who used these players as their role models.
bob grochmal (Derry NH)
Tony: Please comment on what are the best grass roots actions that youth soccer players, coaches, parents and small businesses can do to aid in getting the WUSA back up and running. It's a huge loss to not have a visible, working venue for these wonderful athletes and role models to continue their great journey for us all, and especially for the young female players across the USA.
Tony DiCicco (6:20 PM)
Bob, thank you for your thoughts. They are very very close to my own. We are looking at a grassroots initiative. It is not fully formed yet, but it is something like the following. If we can get 2500 clubs across the country to donate $1000 per year for 3 years. (Which is about $2 a player). That would be such a great statement to corportate partners who are looking to come onboard. That is really along the lines of what we are looking to do, get the people, the fans, the parents to save their organization. Please keep a watchful eye on WUSA.com. That will certainly serve as a clearinghouse for all of this information and what to do in the future. Thanks again for all of the support out there for this effort so far. It is very promising.
Amy, San Diego, CA
Any comments on the difference in level of play between WUSA and the World Cup? I have more fun watching the World Cup because it seems like the players have more room to create plays. Are the fields bigger in World Cup play? I would have loved to have seen the San Diego Spirit play in a larger arena.
Tony DiCicco (6:23 PM)
Amy thats a very good question, I can tell you are a very astute soccer player. I've talked to coaches within the WUSA ... the reason why there is so much space is because the players are allowing it. The dimensions of the field are actually very similar to WUSA fields. IN many of our WUSA games however the way teams are organized and the coaches and players talents and ablilities really eliminate time and space. The fields and games look and play tighter.
Should the U.S. go with a 4-3-3 against Norway?
Tony DiCicco (6:24 PM)
April knows her team better than anyone, however I like the way you're thinking. Norway is a direct team that likes to play the ball forward quickly. With three forwards you really help protect against this. I think 4-3-3 would be a good way to go, but I have to leave the tactics to April, she knows best.
What's your opinion of some of the other pro leagues in the world? Which has the best competition, salary structure, etc?
Tony DiCicco (6:27 PM)
The best pro leage in the world is the WUSA. But the semi-pro German league, Sweedish league and Norwegian league are all very good. ........... I will also say that MLS is a better league than people give it credit for, that has been proven by our men's national team and of course our world cup team.
Where do you think some of our former WUSA players will end up abroad?
Tony DiCicco (6:29 PM)
Tough question. I think that our current WUSA players are going to end up playing in a leauge here. There may be some international players who will return to play for their home team ... there are also young int'l players would would love to come here. Just as many of our young men's players want to play in Europe b/c of the passion and intensity over there -- on the women's side, that feeling and sentiment is towards the USA and the WUSA. Its a very special thing.
Sarah Bassett, Clifton Park, NY
Who is the best women's soccer player you've ever coached.
Tony DiCicco (6:30 PM)
That's actually an easy answer. I've coached great players like Mia and Joy and Christine, but the greatest ever to play the game is Michelle Akers.
Charles (Madison, WI)
Hi Tony. What do you think of the officiating in this World Cup?
Tony DiCicco (6:32 PM)
Charles are you trying to get me in trouble? I don't think the officiating has been any worse than the officiating in the men's wc in 2002 when we saw some pretty questionable decisions. However, I don't agree with FIFA that there should only be female officials. These players spend years and years to develop the skills to play in the world cup and on the international level. They deserve the best officials - period. Not the best female officials. Overall, I think the women have done as good a job as in Korea and Japan.
Ken Barr (New York)
According to the MatchTracker at FIFAWorldCup.com, the penalty that resulted in Abby Wambach was called against O Kum Ran for fouling Tiffeny Milbrett. I didn't see a foul on TV but should the ref played advantage and given Wambach's goal instead of giving the PK?
Tony DiCicco (6:33 PM)
Well, the answer is -- I did hear the whistle before Abby shot the ball. Based on the fact that the foul was called before the ball was shot, the penalty then had to be taken. SHould she have held the whistle a moment longer, I think so, but based on the fact that she didnt she then couldn't allow advantage play.
Pan ying (Boston,MA)
Dear Coach DiCicco, My name is Pan Ying, a Chinese soccer fan in Boston. I have tremendous respect for you as US head coach, (of course, your team broke my heart 99' in Rose Bowl:) (and of course, that US classic victory led to many good things, including WUSA) and now I enjoyed listening your commenting while watch World Cup matches last week... I watched the game China Vs Russia for Group D on Sunday. I am sending this note just want you know why Liu Ying was chosen to take the penalty kick in that game... Liu Ying was the girl who missed the peanlty kick in the 99' Final. I think the whole team want her to gain the confidence back, that's why Sun Wen gave away the chance to tie the all-time record. That kick choice was probably agreed upon by the whole team when they came to US, not a on-the-field coach decision. Wish to see you commenting the China Vs Canada game! And best wishes for your future in FIFA. Sincerely, Pan ying
Tony DiCicco (6:37 PM)
Thanks for all of your comments! I did fail to mention that that about Ying. This was a very admirable of the team ... BUT from a coaching perspective, you have a player Sun Wen one goal away from the record AND a goal would make the score 2-0 which would almost certainly give China lesser opponent (not Germany) in the next round. I think the gesture was very honorable and respectable by the team, but from a pure coaching perspective, I'm not sure it was the best thing for the China squad.
Is norway the US's toughest competition?
Tony DiCicco (6:39 PM)
Well Tim, Norway is not the great Norway team of the mid 90s when they were really one of the best women's teams ever. However, Norway is never an easy game. Norway has a great mentality, a great psychological strength. They are vikings, they will bring every ounce of their power to the field, but I truly believe that they US is a better team and I believe that they will win the match on Wednesday.
Ana Nunez:Lawrence, MA
How does one get an opportunity to try out for the National Team?
Tony DiCicco (6:42 PM)
To make the National Team, there are many different ways ... you can play on your ODP team and be seen by youth national team coaches and then as you play on that team you are seen by the head national team coach. OR, you can become an outstanding collegiate player. Many top NCAA players distinguish themselves through their college program. Then, if you look at Chrisy Pierce, she actually attended college on a basketball scholarship, but she contacted me and asked me to come see her play and she was a terrific athlete and I love to coach athletes and there she is out there playing for her second World Cup. So there are many ways to accomplish this ... it takes talent and skill and drive. It is a very prestigious organization but on the plus side, there are many different avenues to it.
San Diego California
Hello Tony, My name is alann lopes. You may actually remember me. You were my assistant coach at Central in the late 70s. Glad to see you've had an outstanding career. My question is relative to the WUSA financial problems. Looking at the existing list of sponsors it seems that several obvious potential corporate sponsors are not involved. For example, Barbara and Craig Barrett (Intel), Carly Fiorina (HP) and Melinda and Bill Gates (Microsoft) come to mind. These folks care deeply about providing opportunities for women and I find it hard to believe that they would not be willing to help such an important cause. The WUSA goes beyond just the games and the players -- it is a tremendous forum that fosters self-confidence, self-esteem, etc., for young women all over this country. Not to mention WUSA role models such as Julie, Mia and Joy which I believe are amongst the best in all of American sport. It will be an absolute shame and a great loss to young women if the WUSA does not survive. The question: Is the WUSA executive board pursuing support from these and other prominent American women? Have any potential financial sponsored stepped forward since the collapse of the league? Regards, alann lopes
Tony DiCicco (6:46 PM)
Alann, thanks, you taught me a lot as your assistant coach. Many corporations have come forward to inquire about what is needed. We have been looking at companies who have presidents and CEOs who are women. But, all administrators have really responded in so many differnt areas. It is difficult because so many companys are financially involved in so many worthy causes, but we really believe that the WUSA is so important to the development of our young athletes. We won't give up.
marie , calif
tony --whats next for you in regards to coaching?
Tony DiCicco (6:47 PM)
Well Marie, I do want to coach again. I am coaching my 12 year old son's team which is a lot of fun. Coaching is in my blood. I really think that it is in my future, but I don't have any prospects that I can mention at this time.
Kyle, Tampa FL
Hey Tony! Thanks for answering our questions today! Team USA definitely looks strong for this World Cup. With many people saying this will be the last for some of the big name players how do you think that will affect team USA's strength for the next cup? Are the upcoming faces such as Abby Wambach, Cat Reddick and Aly Wagner enough to carry on USA's dominance in the sport of women's soccer?
Tony DiCicco (6:50 PM)
Those are all very very good questions, my personal feelings is that it is impossible to replace a Mia or Joy or Christine ... but there are players who have watched them play or maybe even have played or trained with them who have learned so much from those founding role models. I compare the USA women to the brazilian men. Those two teams are expected to win every time they are in a World Cup or an Olympics ... and I like that, I really like that expectation.
How much would not having a professional league set back player development for the national team? Is improving talent a process that can't be stopped now that it has started, or will this reverse the gains made?
Tony DiCicco (6:53 PM)
My opinion is that without a WUSA, our player development would be compromised greatly. Let's look at the WC team players ... without the WUSA Brianna Scurry wouldn't be playing. Neither Julie Foudy ... Tiffany Roberts was not part of the Olympic team, but was added after the WUSA season. Then Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Bivens, all these women are on this team becuase of the WUSA. Without this league the US would really have to turn to a totally differnt model of development which is not nearly as efficient of the WUSA.
Tony DiCicco (6:58 PM)
Ok everybody, I have to run to a meeting, but I really want to thank every body. Your support for the WUSA has really been amazing, please keep it up. We can bring this back if we all try hard enough. Keep an eye out for announcement on WUSA.com to see what you can do to help revive our soccer program. Also, thanks so much for supporting the national team. Keep it up through this main event we have going on right now. Please tune in and watch these games. Help send a message to those corporate sponsors that tv ratings are strong and soccer fans want to watch soccer. Last but not least ... enjoy the game. Love it. Love to play it. love to particiapate. love to cheer. love to coach. love to ref, whatever it is that you do, enjoy it, it will give so much back to you. Thanks for everything! Take care!