Sunday, January 21, 2007

US 3-1 Denmark

It has been a long time coming, but the US men returned to the win column yesterday in LA, however, that victory looked unlikely in the first 45.

Even with all the offense on the pitch, the US came out looking flat. Donovan was timid, Eddie Johnson was lost and the general intensity was very low. Denmark was able to take the ball again and again towards the American goal, but thankfully were denied good final chances.

When Denmark got the first goal, I was thinking it was going to be a long night, however, an extremely fortunate call gave us a penalty kick right before the half (yes, it was Ghana in reverse). Another dose of luck allowed Donovan's attempt to deflect off the keeper and into the net.

All tied at 1 going into the break.

Then there was the second half and the fresh faces started earning their keep. The second goal by Jonathan Bornstein was amazing, but it was Justin Mapp that did all the work. He beat six or seven defenders to place a great centering pass that Bornstein happen to get under. It really was a dream goal.

Finally, Kenny Cooper finished up the scoring with a great run and a smooth finish.

Wonderful work out there, but there is still much to do. The team was having trouble connecting passes, covering balls sent into the box and putting sustained pressure on Denmark's defense. If this is the team that shows up against Mexico, they will not walk away with a win.

That was the game, but lets talk about the commentary. I was happy to read in the comments that a number of people felt the same way about the Arena and Wynalda. It seemed like they were talking about everything except what was happening on the pitch. There was little play-by-play and even less explanation of how the team was trying to build up play. It's great that they can joke about so many insider things, however, those sort of things should only happen when play is stopped, not when the ball is in the opposition's third.

I do like that they were calling US Soccer out for the intern title in front of Bob Bradley's name, but even those taunts got old.

How difficult would it be to call the game that's happening in front of their eyes? It really is the only way they will attract viewers who know little about the game.

Anyway, it is great to have the US playing again. Next up, Mexico.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of talking about what was happening on the pitch...those guys were chatting about something lame (can't remember what it was at the moment) right when Denmark was setting up their first goal. That was just a little annoying.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Talk about taking the air out of the game. Over analyzing, boring play-by-play and lame sarcastic comments is all that comes out of the ESPN2 booth at yesterdays U.S. MNT vs. Denmark match. It’s a wonder why soccer doesn't take off when the voice of it takes on the form of a former coach and an ex-footballer who combine make for a lame professor and pupil session. It's not that they don't know their soccer trivia nor lack knowledge of the games tactics, but it's just that, they know too much and become a heavy academic load on the game without excitement. They spend 45 minutes explaining all the tactical mistakes and small details to the point that most folks don't care to know and tune off. And when the moment of climax arrives in a score; all we get is a softhearted lame announcement of "goal." Or haw about my personal favorite, "it's in the net." Give me a break! You ESPN2 guys need to take a page out of the sports worlds greatest announcers and make it entertaining for a change. I’m sure you would get more folks interested and in turn result in more money, better players and overall a better soccer for America. Yes, I said money. It’s sad to say but you are selling entertainment in the finally analysis.

The most successful pro games in the U.S. have the most colorful linguistics czars to ever announce a game. The Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vince Scully who can take a game as slow as a 3 hour game of trivial baseball and quickly whip it into the most colorful experience a fan can have. Let’s not forget the beloved Los Angeles Lakers Chick Hern and his "Chickizms". You remember, "The mustard fell out of the hotdog. He put him in the popcorn machine. And my favorite, "SLAMM DUNK!!!" Yes that's what I'm talking about; excitements at the end of a scoring drive! You could close your eyes and watch the game with the colorful voices of true professionals like these.

If the folks at ESPN2 and the rest of the U.S. soccer media outlets want to take a more clinical approach to this issue they can hire a sports/business psychologist to run a simple test on the effects of lame boring announcers with all the insight on the game and compare them to a colorful play-by-play czar. I wonder who would win your vote? I think my U-8 answered that question just yesterday when he said, "Daddy push the yellow button on the remote and change it to Spanish; I would rather listen to soccer in Spanish rather than in English because the man speaking English is boring." Funny thing is he doesn't speak Spanish, but when his attention span speaks it yells out, "Goooooaaalllll!!!!"

I think in psychology it's called a positive stimulation equals positive reaction.

Oh yea, don’t forget there’s a footballer coming from across the pond this summer who will have the greatest impact on soccer since the great arrival of “Pele”. Let’s not drop the ball and kill them softly with lame announcers.

Sports Psychology Consultants Inc.,
Pasadena California

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say but it doesn't matter how entertaining the commentary is, a lot of football games have horrible commentary but people still watch. America just plain doesn't like soccer. I don't know what it is about the sport but we just don't like soccer and I can't see that changing in my lifetime, and I'm only 17. Soccer will only catch on once it is televised more, bad commentary or not. But it won't be televised because networks can't get the big advertising dollars. no stoppages in game play means no commercials which means networks don't make as much money. This is the sad truth.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd watch more soccer if Bruce Arena was screaming "Goooooooooooaaaaaaalllllll!" for 10 seconds before gasping for more air. Seriously though, better commentary would help some people. The reasoning behind Americans being slow on the soccer uptake is multi-faceted and cannot be pinned to one cause (whether it be announcers or air time).

12:18 AM  
Blogger Mike H said...

Wilablog, you are right, commentary alone will not make the sport. I did kind of imply that, however, I did not mean to. I was thinking more about people who might have just tuned in to watch the game who know little about soccer. Those folks will not really know what is happening. If they have a person calling the game that explains the play on the pitch, it would make it an easier experience.

To anonymous, just so you know, ABC, ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, HDnet and Telemundo will all be carrying Major League Soccer games this year. In addition, they are paying for the rights. Yes, the lack of commerical breaks makes for some difficulty, however this just means networks have to come up with a different way of doing so. Also, part of the reason commentary is not as important during a football game is most Americans already know the basic rules and stratagies of the game, so they don't need the commentary as much.

Now let's all wait for Arena's 10 second goal calls.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely agreed. When I contrast the style of the EPL announcers to ours...the disparity is a little discouraging. There is something about English humor that really helps as well. I actually think that Bruce may have a bit of that dry sarcastic wit...

12:55 PM  

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