Questions for Cottagers Confidential
B&RU: After 13 seasons in the Premier League, Fulham were relegated to The Championship; what are the expectations for this season and how much squad turnover has there been.
CC: The expectations are that Fulham will come right back up. Shahid Khan is one of the richest men in all of English Football, much less the Championship. Add to that the balloon payments that Fulham get, and they will be able to outspend every team except possibly Cardiff City. Some of this is already on display with the purchase of Ross McCormack from Leeds United (repeatedly for £11M).
As for turn over, there have so far been eight new signings, with about the same amount of players leaving. It's still possible for a few (and as many as seven) to be leaving. However, many of the replacements are coming from the youth system. Fulham's academy has been the U18 champions two of the last three years. The also made it all the way to the FA Youth Cup last year. The U21 team has also been quite impressive. Many of those players would have been ready to go on loan to Championship clubs this year. With Fulham in the Championship, they'll be able to contribute to the first team instead.
B&RU: Many of the players that are coming with Fulham to the United States are youth players, including young American Emerson Hyndman. What are you hoping to see out of this tour?
CC: Seeing young players is always fun. Emerson Hyndman could very well be a fixture in the future for the USA. Moussa Dembele and Patrick Roberts are two of the best attacking prospects in all of England. Seeing them in action will be fun. However, what I and most are fans are looking forward to is to see how Felix Magath is going to set up the team. Up to this point the team had mainly been focusing on fitness. It was only in the last preseason game that any work on tactics was done. Magath rolled out a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Is this something he's going to stick with? He did use it when he last managed in Germany, but it's mainly fallen out of favor in European club football. I'm very curious to see how Fulham lines up to play this weekend.
Before Everton was the darling of American Premier League fans, there was Fulhamerica. Is that something that you miss, and is it something that Fulham might be interested in getting back into?
CC: I must admit the Fulhamerica is the reason I got into Fulham in the first place (My SB Nation avatar is me wearing a Fulhamerica shirt). Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey are my two favorite players of all time and the major reason I started supporting the team. I'd love to see the team start buying more American players. Emerson Hyndman is currently the only one, but they were linked heavily with Matt Besler before he re-signed with Sporting KC. I also heavily advocated Fulham to make a run at DeAndre Yedlin before the World Cup. With Khan in charge, I think there's a good chance Fulham do look to America more and more. American players are undervalued (Luke Shaw for instance just sold for more than 7x the rumored asking price for Yedlin). For a team that wants to be sustainable, America is a good place to look for talent on the cheap.
B&RU: Projected lineup?
CC: I'm guessing that the team will roll out a diamond again. My best guess would be something like this:
Marcus Bettinelli; Konstantinos Stafylidis, Cameron Burgess, Shaun Hutchinson, Kay Voser; Tim Hoogland; Ryan Williams; Emerson Hyndman; Chris David; Hugo Rodallega, Moussa Dembele
Questions for Black and Red United
CC: Honest opinion, how much do you hate these friendlies? We just had one in Seattle and the fan base was divided among those who hated it, those who loved it, and those who didn't care. I found myself actually enjoying the experience of being able to watch 90 minutes of soccer in person with no worries about the outcome.
B&RU: I really dislike them because they don't mean anything. I understand why foreign teams in their preseason come and do it, as it is a part of their preseason and they get to try out some other players against teams that are in midseason form. But D.C. United has a packed August of games, and just the thought of one of them being moved to this weekend instead of this game makes me sad. In addition, United's younger players would probably be better served playing with their USL PRO affiliate, the Richmond Kickers, in a game that means something this weekend.
CC: As both a Fulham and Seattle Sounders supporter not mention a fan of the USMNT, I have a very long love/hate relationship with Eddie Johnson. He can be a very polarizing figure to say the least. How has he been for you this season both on and off the pitch?
B&RU: As I am sure you know, Eddie Johnson can be a very frustrating player. He can be demonstrative and get upset easily on the field, and sometimes he's not getting back onside as quickly as he could and an attack breaks down. However, he is really starting to become a key player for D.C. United by doing all of the other stuff a forward needs to do. Watch the clip of him heading the ball down back into the path of Perry Kitchen, who then scores the goal. Watch him dragging defenders out of position so that his teammates can get chances. He has scored a couple of penalties in recent games, and I still think that the goals from the run of play will come.
CC: DC made pretty big news when they sold Andy Najar. He was the first home grown player to be sold by an MLS team. With MLS looking like it might be a fertile ground for budget European clubs to shop in, are there any young players on DC that might have the talent to make a move to Europe any time soon? Any that a club like Fulham might be interested in?
B&RU: Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid are the two brightest young stars on D.C. United right now. Kitchen is a hard-working defensive midfielder who has recently been getting a lot of buzz for the first time outside of D.C., and is being tipped as a player that Juergan Klinsmann should be considering for the men's national team soon. Bill Hamid, of course, was the first homegrown player that D.C. United signed (in 2009) and has really turned into one of the top three goalkeepers in MLS this year. Both are under 24 and it would probably be an economics decision as to how long they can stay with D.C. United.
CC: Projected lineup?
B&RU: I feel like the team will at least start with most of its regular starters before rotating people in. I will go with Bill Hamid, Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Korb, Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe, Eddie Johnson, and Luis Silva. However, expect names like Collin Martin, Michael Seaton, and Jared Jeffrey to feature heavily as well.