ESPN 101: How to (not) tackle football…

I certainly picked the wrong week to go on a hiatus from blogging about American soccer.  However, with two huge research papers due in the next week, and my family gathering for thanksgiving, I figured that I needed a moment away from soccer.  I, of course, forgot that as soon as the MLS Cup is won, MLS’s stupid season begins.  Of course you wouldn’t know this if you were tuned into ESPN.

So what exactly has happened in my short few days away from soccer?  Well, LA finally won MLS Cup becoming the first team with designated players to do so, NBC swooped into Seattle and came away with an announcing icon for their national broadcasts. Meanwhile, ESPN caved to the trends of twitter and did not renew the contract of a man who causes more pain to American soccer fans than the Ghannian National Team, almost every single player (even those who haven’t sniffed the National Team in years) have decided to go train in Europe for the offseason, Sepp Blatter threw some miniscule pot-shots at the US Soccer Federation, MLS, and possibly tossed some fuel on the fire of promotion-relegation supporters.  Chivas, who seems to always be in turmoil, tossed away a potential USMNT striker for a song-and-a-dance, and all hell broke lose between Houston and Montreal –all before Montreal even played a game.

Briefly stated it was a fascinating few days for soccer, and ESPN once again showed their respect to the game by showing the MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy 52 minutes into the third hour of Sports Center.  Obviously ESPN must need help on covering the beautiful game in America.  Here’s an example of how it could be covered by some of ESPN’s bigger properties (as well as some real coverage by blogs from around the internet)…

PTI on "Your MLS Champion LA Galaxy"

“So LA are the World Champions of soccer, but is this team the greatest MLS team ever?”
“Well Tony, There is a case to be made.  I, personally, would not put them above the early DC United teams.  They also, in my mind, fall behind the 2001 Miami Fusion team.  After that there is an argument to be made.”
“Are you really saying the early DC teams could beat this LA team?  A lot of those guys couldn’t kick the ball straight!”
“Are you kidding me? DC had Etcheverry, Moreno, Pope, Agoos, Richie Williams, Harkes, Arce, Sanneh! Find me one current MLS team that has that kind of depth.  That’s five national team starters! Are you going to tell me Adam Christman and Mike Magee are as good as Jaime Moreno and John Harkes? No way!”
“John Harkes the player or John Harkes the commentator? Because it’s a fact that Mike Magee could commentate better than Harkes.”
“That’s an all-time great player, so be careful.”
“Great player, poor commentator. Next topic.”

More on LA Galaxy
Are the 2011 Galaxy the best MLS team ever? – Robert Hay
Away From The Numbers: Who Will Be The New Poster Boy of MLS? – Michael McColl, Metro Vancouver
Video: The Beckham View From Across The Pond, Sort Of – The Shin Guardian

Around the Horn on "Brian Ching to Montreal"

“‘Buy or Sell’ Houston was smart for leaving Brian Ching unprotected for the expansion draft.”
“Sell, sell, sell a thousand times sell! This man may be past his prime, but he is the face of that team! [ding] He’s their all time leader in goals, [ding, ding, ding]he was an American international [ding].  Houston should be embarrassed for themselves and their fans should be furious. [ding, ding, ding]”
“I have to agree with Woody here”
“Houston fans are upset with Jesse Marsch and Montreal, but it was Houston that left a man –who should be opening their brand new stadium next year as a captain– unprotected [ding, ding, ding, ding].  I’ll sell this one.”
“I have to buy this.  Ching was a good player, but he only produced 5 goals this year [ding, ding]and was injured for most of it [ding].  Out of respect, maybe you protect him, but he is not the same player he used to be and he has a huge salary [ding, ding, ding].”
“He had a clutch playoff goal for the Dynamo [ding], the man scored the first goal in Roberston Stadium history and the last goal in Robertson Stadium history [ding, ding, ding]. Doesn’t he deserve to be there when they open their new stadium? [ding, ding]”
“History is just that…history. And Ching is looking like a relic. As far as the new stadium, this is a ‘what have you done for me lately business and he hasn’t done a whole lot. [ding, ding]  Houston proved they couldn’t stay with LA in the finals and they look to be going younger. Ching’s too slow, and frankly too old to be effective in a league that is showing it wants to go with youth [ding, ding, ding]. “
“Houston’s going younger, unless Montreal can dupe them out of Andre Hainault, then they lose doubly, and Montreal looks brilliant [ding].”
“Me no likee the soccer ball. Soccer ball be bad for ‘Merica. Me likee things that go bang, bang, boom, boom. Soccer ball for people no likee real sports for smartie people like meee. And…[mute sound]”
“Good lord.”

More on Brian Ching to Montreal
Why MLS Should Thank Marsch for Drafting Brian Ching – Prost Amerika Soccer
Marsch on Ching: “He’s a valuable player to Montreal and other teams” – Richard Whittall, The Footy Blog

Mike and Mike in the Morning on "Arlo White to NBC" and "John Harkes out at ESPN"

“Earlier this year, NBC bought the rights to MLS.  They teased their future coverage with a nice little 30 second clip during a Sunday Night Football game.  Don Garber was found cross promoting MLS Cup –which was going to air on a rival network– on MSNBC.  These items alone made fans of the sport start to think that NBC might have somewhat of a plan for growing MLS as they grew the NHL when they got those rights for a song and a dance back in 2005.  The newest horse in their stable is Arlo White as their official voice for soccer on NBC/NBC Sports. Personally I feel this is a good move.”
“Honestly, how big of a deal is an announcer to a sport?”
“Would the NBA be the NBA without Marv Albert? Would the NFL be the NFL without John Madden?”
“NFL seems to be doing fine without John Madden. And, honestly, this White guy is good, but has no one heard of Glenn Davis? We need American announcers for this sport to grow.”
“Why? You sound xenophobic.  Does it really matter where this guy is from?  He is the best at what he does.  Look at what happened with John Harkes here at ESPN.”
“So now we’re going to put all American commentators in the same boat because of that dog-and-pony-show? We can agree Harkes was bad, but is it worth shoehorning all other American announcers because of him?”
“Let’s be honest here, Harkes pushed back American commentating by a few years with gems like ‘shimmy, shimmy, coco, puffs’ and brilliant analysis like ‘you’ve really got to score there.'”
“But you’ve got Taylor Twellman, an American, replacing him, Glenn Davis, who is as good as White, I’m still partial to JP Delecamara, and Callum Williams is really good too.”
“Callum Williams is English.'”

More on Arlo White to NBC
Report says Arlo White joining NBC soccer coverage – Don Ruiz, The News Tribune
Arlo White Reportedly Accepts NBC Soccer Announcing Job – Jeremiah Oshan, Sounder at Heart
More on John Harkes out at ESPN
Harkes out as ESPN’s lead analyst – Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated
As Twitter Reacts to John Harkes, Networks Should Take Notice – Zack Woosley, Ginge Talks the Footy


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