Ed: I'm going to do my best this season to give some overview over things I see on TV and on line regarding soccer--internationally and domestically--and the things I like or don't like regarding the game. To let you know, this year marks the very first year of following seriously the MLS and I've watched both EPL and International games as well. I will do my best from my perspective, but I will never be arrogant to say I know it all or understand it all. What I will do is give the best overview of what I like and don't like regarding the coverage of "the beautiful game." One thing you can bank on from me is I want football/soccer to grown in the United States. I became a fan both as a dad watching his daughter play, a coach for two of her teams, and as someone who finally got hooked on MLS by one game in Columbus (which I live a hour away from). Here we go!
One word about NBC Sports Network's coverage of Major League Soccer:
Forgive my language, but really this should have been afforded to the MLS a long time ago. The packaging is a very strong shot off the bow of ESPN (the Evil Empire) regarding how to make American soccer look inviting and captivating. This is the kind of coverage you expect to see when making this game a part of American sports coverage. No wonder fans--new and old--really took well the news of NBC Sports commitment to making MLS a part of their sports package. NFL will always be king, but if I were the NBA or NHL I'd worry very much right now.
Alright, a little over hype on my part, but it is a very great spark needed to bring the game to American homes. A lot will be up to the coverage from the booth, the availablity of the games to audiences, and how many games will be featured on the main mother ship that is NBC network. I'm personally looking forward to seeing Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy. My daughter and I have tickets and it is the MUST SEE GAME of the year for us. To be seen on the main network in our backyard will be a great fit to let the rest of the country know that in the heartland soccer is king.
THINGS I LOVE: The play up of Kevin Hartment of FC Dallas vs. the rookie start in the net of Ryan Meara of the Red Bulls. As I'm writing this the Red Bulls have given up a goal by Dallas. Experience counts!
* I miss seeing Kyle Martino being behind the desk at Fox Soccer's Goals on Sunday, but it is a huge move for him and one I think will help bring an American touch to the coverage. Arlo White (TV/Radio voice of the Seattle Sounders and nine years on BBC radio) is a good touch to the game and will give the coverage needed for this new "game of the week" style.
*Some of the camera shots captured a bit of the atmosphere of what MLS soccer is like for the fans entering the field. My daughter would tell me its better to be at the game to experience the feel than to watch it on TV. I agree. But it depends on how the game is presented on TV. This will help to draw people in hopes to draw the average viewer out of their seats and towards their nearest team to watch them live.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE
This is kind of minor, but I hope NBC Sports Network will do what they can to add ways to get new fans to understand the beautiful game. Also, wish we saw more fan reaction to the game.
Crew vs. Rapids
FOX SPORTS OHIO
The first night of the first broadcast of Crew Soccer was a breath of fresh air. The best thing I can compare it to is going from the Black and White version of the movie "The Wizard of Oz" and then going technicolor when entering into the county of Oz. That's the step up the coverage and quality the picture was to me when I watched Saturday's game. No offense to Ohio News Network, but they sure did try their best but are not on the same par like Fox Soccer/ Fox Sports Ohio.
Dwight Burgess and Duncan Oughton are not part of my current Crew history, but not knowing enough about them to give a good review about how they commented on the game was on par to me. My only objection is not on their part, but on the Crew as I wished those two scores, and the excitement in Burgess' voice would have gone our way.
The same thing I wish the NBC coverage would do is the same I hope the Crew coverage on Fox Ohio can pick up: Make the game plainer to new soccer fans and those who are watching it for the first time. It was the thing that helped me become a hockey fan with the Columbus Blue Jackets when they took the time to explain some of the basic rules and continue to show the type of play set up for the Blue Jackets.
Favorite EPL match: Swansea vs. Manchester City
The look of disgust from one Man City fan on the verge of tears said more to me about how much their team means to me than anything in the world. If you are a fan of the beautiful game, and you saw your team's changes come into question after a header in the 81st minute of play giving Swansea the overall win against Man city, this game would be a hard pill to swallow.
After months of dominating the top flight, Man City fell and paved the way for a Manny U win against West Brom Albion to take over the top place by one point in the EPL standings.
Favorite UEFA game: Lyon vs. Apoel Nicosia
I know nothing about Apoel...Lyon I know a bit from watching the French league. But the way Apoel played, the passion of the game, the shoot out, and the way the fans reacted and supported their team made this my favorite UEFA game ever. In the two or three years of following UEFA I have to say it was great to see an underground team get to go and play Cinderella dancing in the ball against the big boys. How they do when it is their turn to advance will be another issue, but for quality and sheer passion of the game pray you get to see the replay on this on Fox Soccer.
That's all I have for now. I'll do my best to try and get another one cranked out. Not bad for a rookie, but hope to talk more about show coverage and things that looked good (or not so much) in the coming weeks. Till next time, keep striking.