Friday, July 21, 2006

ESPN looking at Bruce Arena for 2010 Cup coverage. Will O'Brien return?

He might not be walking the sidelines in South Africa, but the Bruce might still be giving his two cents worth. ESPN has said that they are interested in including Arena in their 2010 World Cup coverage. Just what role he would play is unknown, but it would probably be along the lines of in studio commentary ala Lalas and Wynalda.

No formal talks have happened, however, ESPN senior coordinating producer Tim Scanlan told ESPN of a conversation he had with Arena last January.

"I asked him if it was something he would ever consider because he always had opinions -- and he definitely would give me opinions on our commentators," said Scanlan, who ran ESPN's World Cup efforts in Germany. "I said, 'Let me put you in the seat. Would you consider doing it?' He said, 'Yeah, I would be interested at some point. I would not say no."

Hearing Bruce's take on things would be a fantastic and I would love to see him and Wynalda debate points of the game.

But that brings us to lead announcer. I have not wrote much about the ABC/ESPN coverage of 2006 because I think many other people have covered it. I don't think Dave O'Brien was the best choice, even though I can understand their logic behind it, Marcelo Balboa brought up some points concerning play on the pitch, but often they were long after the events had taken place and all the graphics were overkill (just to name a few things). So what will come of the O'Brien-Balboa team?

Here is the line that will bring a lot of emotion to a number of diehard soccer fans in this country:

Later in our conversation Scanlan said he was committed to O'Brien for '10.

If Scanlan has his way, O'Brien will be back in the booth for 2010. However, he was not so direct concerning Balboa, other then to say that the two, as a team, improved as the Cup went on.

If O'Brien is to stay, I hope he uses the next four-years to really learn the game that he is calling. If he can figure out the little things that create so much in soccer and if he can work on bringing more excitement to his voice (let's hear some yelling when play is in front of goal), then maybe he could be something.

Most of the knocks against him have to do with his lack of knowledge of the game. The argument then goes, if he doesn't know the game, how can he teach Americans who do not know how it all works, how it works? It is hard to argue with this.

For Balboa, what can one say? He has been a big part of US soccer broadcasting for years, but he just didn't make it happen with O'Brien. Oh, the wife also thinks he should cut his hair.

What would be really interesting would be placing O'Brien with Arena in calling matches. I don't think Arena would let errors slip by.

A couple other things for 2010, they will probably call all games live from South Africa instead of having some games called from their studios. Also, they plan on extending their coverage of the national anthems. Throw in a 20-minute pre-game show for every match, which explains the style of play, the starting lineup and the history of the teams and you've got something real good.

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Blogger Nick and Dan said...

Balboa's commentary throughout the world cup was appalling. Granted no one who watches soccer on a regualr basis liked O'Brien, but I was horrified by some of the comments made by Balboa. If the goal of this World Cup (for ESPN) was to educate some of the American public, then Balboa should have been yanked off the air after the first game or two that he did. One of the things I absolutely detest in the game is the lack of integrity shown by many of the players, diving, feigning injury, trying to get others sent-off. If you ask me, these are all serious problems but diving is about to become an epidemic in the sport. Most of us live with it because we know how the beautiful game is supposed to be played, however the younger generation was routinely exposed to Balboa's applause of the divers, "he did a good job of drawing the foul in a dangerous area, he sucked the defender in and then made the most of slight contact." Most of the time these fouls happened at the midfield line, so there was nothing too dangerous about the ensuing free kick. And furthermore I do not want the youth in this country learning to flop like Christiano Ronaldo, because the only thing that I can routinely hang my hat on with our soccer situation is that we don't dive, well not anywhere near what every other nation does. So I say Balboa should be taken off of all broadcasts regarding the sport of soccer, and be sent to the seventh level of hell, where he would presumably be playing in the World Cup Final and defending against floppers like the aforementioned Ronaldo and other "flops" of the 2006 World Cup.

12:59 PM  

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