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Please, No

ESPN just put out this press release:

Tommy Smyth, the leading English language analyst for ESPN International's coverage of soccer, will make his MLS Primetime Thursday debut on ESPN2 April 19 at 7 p.m. during the live telecast of the New England at Columbus match in Columbus, Ohio. Smyth, widely respected as one of the most knowledgeable insiders of the international sport, will join play-by-play commentator Rob Stone and MLS lead analyst Eric Wynalda, with Allen Hopkins on the sidelines. Smyth has served as lead analyst for UEFA Champions League telecasts, match and studio analyst for the FIFA World Cup in 1998, 2002 and 2006, and as a panelist on "ESPNSoccernet Press Pass."

I think he's brutal. Your thoughts?

By Steve Goff  |  April 17, 2007; 7:31 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Comments

Smyth, O'Brien and Waldo in one booth?

Won't be enough mike to go around, audio train wreck for certain...

Posted by: Bill Urban | April 17, 2007 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I think he's great, how he will mesh with Stone and Waldo remains to be seen, that's alot of people who like to talk in one booth.

Posted by: tkgunn | April 17, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

What bugs me is when Smyth will say something really obviously wrong. Like when commenting about Hearts owner, the crazy Lithuanian, he said that the guy was being paranoid and there weren't any cases of bribery in the game. WHAT??!?!? Did Tommy somehow not hear about Juve's relegation + point deduction? Or how about the German ref that got busted? And there are more. It doesn't bug me when I disagree with him, it's just that once or twice a week he's making some claim that's the soccer equivalent of "the sun revolves around the earth".

Posted by: Allen | April 17, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

He is "bloody awful"!

Posted by: KeithC | April 17, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I always enjoyed listening to Tommy and J.P. I am looking forward to hearing a voice that actually knows what they are talking about, BUT he is not my first choice. I would love to our old coach in the broadcast booth. Thats right, Ray Hudson should be the color commentator for ESPN. He as a great sense of humor, vast knowledge of the game, and is obvisously familiar with the MLS. That would have made the most sense in my opinion.

Posted by: DC United Fan | April 17, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

He's got an accent. That's about it.

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I love Tommy Smyth. As long as we don't have to hear Dave O'Brien, I'm happy.

How about we get some other former US Stars in the booth...how about Tab Ramos, Tony Meoloa, Joe Max-Moore, or John Harkes? I'm sure they'd all bring a lot of great knowledge and analysis to the game.

Posted by: anon | April 17, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Brutal is kind. Disaster would be my description. I wish they would bring in Dereck Rae or JP Dellacamara (sp?) for O'Brien. They have enough class/experience that maybe even Waldo might start to get it.
I like Allen Hopkins. I just don't like the sideline interview process as it is a needless interruption of the game. He, IMO, did a nice job pardnered with Bretos on Fox.

Posted by: asitis | April 17, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

At least he will talk about soccer, even if he gets it wrong sometimes (I'm only going with sometimes).

Considering some of the sidebar topics O'Brien would get off on(who is not a bad announcer, just a bad soccer announcer) and just lack of knowledge, I think it's a welcome change.

Posted by: Kyle | April 17, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Goff,

Howsabout you tell us *why* you think he is "brutal"?

Posted by: Ron | April 17, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

All show, no substance. Doesn't know anything about MLS (except maybe N.Y.). ESPN puts him on the air for his accent and clownish act.

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

He's brutal. Simple formula for good tv coverage.

Pregame/Postgame: extensive analysis. Up to 3 people.
During the game: play-by-play, with brief commentary during set plays. No more than 2 people, or else too many cooks/egos in the kitchen and it becomes a mess with everyone trying to get talk-time.

(Stick Wynalda in the pregame/postgame show b/c his commentary usually lasts WAY too long).

Posted by: Joe | April 17, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

SG,

So you're saying that Smyth is replacing O'Brien: O'Brien was doing the play-by-play, correct? So that means that Smyth will be doing the play-by-play and Waldo will be doing color commentary. Has Smyth done play-by-play before? I think as long as he knows the names of the guys on the field, then any Britain would do better play-by-play than O'Brien. At least he'll display the proper excitement when a goal is scored...sheesh! Goooooooooooool! Gol! Gol! Gol, gol, gol, golaso Lucigol! Gol!

Posted by: Dave the Wave | April 17, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

As the release says, Rob Stone is play-by-play, Wynalda color, Smyth who knows.

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

OK, just looked up Tommy Smyth on wikipedia...yes, he actually has an entry! Apparently, he's best known as a color commentator, BUT was also the voice of the Metrostars from 1996 until the early 2000s, when he was signed by ESPN. So he does have experience doing play-by-play. This is a good upgrade for ESPN MLS broadcasts, but I don't see any friendly commentary for DC United on ESPN games for a loooooooong time to come.

Posted by: Dave the Wave | April 17, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

My onion bag is just bulging at the thought.

Posted by: DCUinCT | April 17, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I actually think Hopkins is bad. He clearly knew nothing about soccer before the assignment. Seems like a nice enough guy, but when you are on the sideline of a Nats match and can't pronoucne Onyewu, something is wrong. I can't believe there isn't a former player male or female that has SOME personality and the ability to speak and think at the same time. Laurie Fair was a wind tunnel, Brandi is boring like cardboard and Mitts seems much more style over substance (not that I don't appreciate her "style"). Can't stand Foudy. All the top men seem to have jobs already. Agoos would be good - bright guy with a great sense of humor without being a clown like Harkes, who he has been when he was on the sidelines in the past. Ramos seems pretty wooden. Is Roy Wegerle done playing golf???

Posted by: Henchlow | April 17, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I think it's an upgrade, which mainly reflects my depth of loathing for Dave O'Brien who is beyond brutal. I hope they trash kick trax and limit the length of Alan Hopkins' sideline pieces. I find it really annoying when Hopkins blabbers on about something of moderate (at best) interest, while the action is going on. On more then a few occasions his interviews relegated goal scoring opportunities to partial screens.

Posted by: noptov52 | April 17, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I say get rid of Hopkins and hire Heather Mitts.

Posted by: Dave the Wave | April 17, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Ray Hudson NOW!!
:-)

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'd rather have Hudson than Smyth, but hiring from within was ESPN's best bet. Stone will do a good play-by-play, Waldo will be up to his usual antics and Smyth will be color-squared. Just his Irish accent alone will give ESPN's broadcasts more appeal, especially since most 'casual' American soccer fans associate the best soccer as being played in the EPL.

Posted by: Dave the Wave | April 17, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

He's heaven sent compared to DOB.

Posted by: Jeff | April 17, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I choose Garth Lagerway as my champion.

Posted by: Beans | April 17, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Tommy Smythe is awful. He's blind as a bat. He doesn't know FIFA's Laws of The Game. And how long do you have to be in the United States before the accent fades? He's atrocious.

Posted by: AndyMead | April 17, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Hopkins played in the USL and is an excellent soccer analyst.

Posted by: Henchlow-clue | April 17, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

A.B.D.O.

Anyone But Dave O'Brien

Dave O'Brien is a baseball announcer. He has no sense of the flow of the game and instead would like to tell us all kinds of interesting factoids about what BFE town the latest draft pick for Columbus is from.

Tommy Smythe, despite his flaws, at least has a feel for the culture of the game. Dave O'Brien is an insult to people who know the game.

Regardless, EPSN do a great job of getting the games on the air, but have a twisted sense of how to present a game that doesn't need to be given the "ESPN Treatment"

Posted by: Eric | April 17, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I've grown to like him less and less over the years (as I've learned to do my own "analysis").

Not my first choice but there's definitely worse choices out there (Miles).

The only thing I can't stand is when I have absolutely no clue what he just said (happens 2-3 times a game).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

My helpful suggestion:

PbP - Derek Rae or JP Dellacamera
Color - Eric Wynalda
Sideline - Julie Foudy

Posted by: Eric | April 17, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I just wonder how many references to Man United will now float in each week.

I suppose we better get used to hearing much more about Kenny Cooper...

Posted by: Zero | April 17, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I actually preferred Smythe to most of the other World Cup announcers, even if he seemed a bit gimmicky and out there at times. I'm actually rather pleased with this.

Posted by: Tim | April 17, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Jeff and Eric. Dave O'Brien is brutal. Tommy Smyth is not my first choice but I can live with him.

For MLS play by play, my first choice is JP Dellacamera and I would like to give Ray Hudson a try for color since I have heard so much about him.

Posted by: 12th man | April 17, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Any word from the press release whether this is a permanent move or a temporary one?

Seem to remember reading that O'Brien would miss a few matches this year to call baseball games. Any chance this is what caused the switch on Thursday?

Posted by: bill urban | April 17, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

The Auld Onion Bag!!!! Love it!!!! I'll take Smyth over O'Brien any day! I certainly hope they allow Smyth to do actual play-by-play instead of the "storytelling" approach that ESPN wants to take.

Posted by: Keenan | April 17, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Dave O'Brien - simply awful, was railing about him at a bar an hour ago.

Tommy Smyth - so bad he's good ... except for the second part.

Waldo - over-opinionated, usually wrong, exactly what MLS needs on TV.

Ray Hudson - love to hate him. Really, I hate him, but for some damned reason, I actually look forward to hearing what bizarre inanity he comes up with next.

Best commentary team - Paul Giblin and Sid Lowe on Worldsport HD - intensely knowledgable, with irresistably dry wit.

Posted by: Gaffer | April 17, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm a hardcore supporter of MLS but regret to say I have never enjoyed watching games on ESPN for the following reasons. We have too many announcers engaged in light hearted chit chat & nobody seriously calling the game. Waldo is a nice enough guy but why on earth does he preach a sermon when there is pandamodium in the goalmouth. The one and only goal at last years allstar game was missed due to the fact Waldo and O'Brien were chatting away to each other. Its simply inexcuseable. Tommy Smyth is a likable guy but i'm afraid the commentary booth will resemble a daytime talk show instead of a serious sporting event and if Rob Stone ever refers to a Beckham cross as a serve i'm gonna jump out the window. I say stop the BS and call the game. TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL THE BROTH.

Posted by: Eric | April 17, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh my god. Dave O'Brien, Tommy Smyth...who picks these guys?

It's like a sick joke

Why can't we get JP Dellacamara, Derek Rae, Ray Hudson? For the love of Pete...

Posted by: Matt | April 17, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Smythe is wretched. He adds nothing to the game. During ManU's destruction of Roma, he spent a couple of minutes moaning about a poor strike from Ronaldo. This is after ManU had scored 5 goals, 2 of them from Ronaldo.

Posted by: Ash | April 17, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Tommy Smyth is one of the best in the biz. To not appreciate Tommy Smyth is to not have an appreciation for the beautiful game. I bet that if you asked all the players in the MLS who ranked highest on their soccer-sportscaster roster - for English-speaking American-based sportcasters - Smyth would be tops. There's a reason for that - former players often have an uncanny ability to identify with players on the pitch. Tommy Smyth is one of those former players.

To suggest he knows nothing about MLS is like telling me I know nothing about MLB. You'd be correct, technically, but then you'd be implying that there was something that I _wanted_ to know about MLB.

MLS is a horrid creation and it would be well-served to be scrapped and take two years off to put a new plan together. There's a reason that retiring players don't go to, say, England to retire - it's because they actually have a league over there. And all their teams are not named 'the butterflies' and the 'lilly pads' and whatever else the MLS has.

clownish act? dang. you'd think we were talking about the caustic Bill O'Reilly calling 80% of Americans, including most of our armed forces, traitors because they disagreed with President Bush. but we're not. we're talking about a sports announcer. for soccer, no less. and his 'clownish' offenses? i didn't realize that gravity was a necessary characteristic of a quality soccer sportscaster. attacking a sportscaster with words like 'brutal' and 'clownish' is like donning full body armor to attack a hot fudge sundae.

I love Tommy Smyth. With the chance to listen to him, I could probably even make it through an MLS game. He's the only guy I go to ESPN's website for. I disagree with him often, but that has zero to do with his quality as a broadcaster. I don't need my sportscasters to agree with my pov just so I can get a little boost to my ego - I want to be challenged, and I want to learn.

In any sportscaster, I want knowledge of the game. I want a deep appreciation for the player's perspective for a change. Not management. Not ownership. I want a coach's perspective. And I want to have fun. Lots of it. Tommy Smyth gets that. That's why people love him. That's why he's on the telly. That's why MLS drafted him - to lend their league some credibility.

I would suggest that the reason he is so successful is because he is so good, and people want to see and listen to him. He helps make the game what is should be - fun.

As for other announcers, to my surprise, Bruce Arena is really good in the booth. During the last couple of matches, he's been spot on. I mean, like perfectly on. When all the other American announcers were in hysterics at whatever happened on the field, Arena would calmly break it down for them - almost scolding them like they were a bunch of five year olds - and regarding their soccer perspective, they were. As arrogant as Arena was during this last Cup run, the dude knows the game - it's immediately evident as soon as there's any critical analysis to be done. If the U.S. slacks, he says it. He calls out players when they mess up, and gives appropriate props when they man-up. He, like Tommy Smyth, is one of the few American-based sportscasters to actually be able to analyse a semi-complex play correctly. There are multiple players and angles and movements and momentum and weather and myriad other aspects that factor into the outcome of any particular play - Arena and Smyth can both look at these on-field situations and break them down, appropriately highlighting the most influential elements.

Smyth and Arena have serious experience and expertise, and it shows.

Now run along and play nice.

:)

Posted by: Peter | April 17, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Tommy Smyth is a complete joke. i honestly prefer Dave O'Brien. i really don't think O'Brien is as bad as everybody thinks, either. he may not know the game by heart, but he knows broadcasting and he's got a golden voice, and he certainly seems committed to learning the game.

for a casual fan, i imagine Tommy Smyth sounds just as ridiculous as Andres Cantor... he's a human parody, positively begging to be lampooned in an episode of The Simpsons.

Posted by: jeremy | April 17, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

don't care - don't need them to tell me what's going on.

Posted by: JSF | April 17, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

i was going to say tommy smyth is my least favorite. then people mentioned dob with his endless comparisons to other sports and their stars. so while i would rather not have tommy smyth there are worse choices.

Posted by: vejito | April 17, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Could be worse, Theismann's still looking for work.

Posted by: bbarrie | April 17, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Just watch Ray Hudson on American Soccer on GolTV every Wednesday night at 8:00, and you know that he is the perfect person to be the color commentator for MLS games on ESPN. What a personality.

Posted by: DC United Fan | April 17, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

DOB is better

Posted by: DOB is better | April 17, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

This is great news in my opinion. Has ESPN actually listened to people to put someone who actually has experience in this sport in the booth?

Posted by: Dave | April 17, 2007 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't a huge soccer fan 5-6 years ago, but I knew Tommy Smyth as the Irish guy who did World Cup play-by-play. I think it's great to have a recognizable face/voice in the booth ala Dick Vitale. Whether you love him or hate him, he has done a tremendous amount of good for the game of college basketball.

Posted by: Mark | April 18, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Former Dallas Burn head coach, Dave Dir, does a great job at the MLS Super Draft. I'd give him a call up to the big leagues on a trial.

Posted by: Beans | April 18, 2007 12:32 AM | Report abuse

DOB is absolutely horrible, Rob Stone and is much better. As many have already stated. Smyth isn't the greatest, but he's an upgrade, and at least he has enthusiasm for the game and makes it seem more important and lively. Not sure how the combo with Wynalda will work at all though.

As for Alan Hopkins, where the hell did they find this guy? He's absolutely horrible, doesn't know anything, and whenever they go to him it completely destroys the flow of the game and its commentary (whatever exists at least).

Posted by: G-Dub | April 18, 2007 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Steven,
He's brutal...but I still kinda love em. I know he's bad, but he's Bill Walton, Dick Vitale bad--at this point, he's pretty much an institution, and I love em...

Posted by: Nick | April 18, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

You know the English commentators for FIFA 2007? Why can't we get game announcers like them ever? They are smooth sounding, polished, and really make the game sound interesting and intelligent.

Posted by: Felix G | April 18, 2007 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Thanks ESPN - I can go back to covering darts and badminton now. Tommy will be ok. Hudson would have been better.

Posted by: Dave O'Brien | April 18, 2007 3:30 AM | Report abuse

He ain't no Ray Hudson.

Posted by: Chico | April 18, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Smyth - Bad. Just bad. I agree with all the criticisms above.

Stone - Lovely. Let's put fanboy back in the booth.

O'Brien - OK, he's not exactly a soccer guy. But he's come a long way in improving (I don't see the likes of Smyth or Stone trying to improve).

Less mindless talking makes a soccer broadcast better, not more.

I don't see how a three man team with anyone other than Jim Rome and Wynalda can be a good thing.

Posted by: Kim | April 18, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Way to open up the soccer commentary can of worms Goff!

Personally, I love Tommy, and I do mean that 'personally'. His in game commentary... who cares really. But he's a real friend of the game in the US. The guy is willing to go out and speak to the unwashed about the game with great joy and humor (e.g. his appearances on PTI, Kornheiser, etc).

I went with a bunch of friends to the Ireland-US friendly in Dublin before WC '02 and got the chance to meet Tommy. He was so impressed with the amount of US supporters there (and volume) that he came down from the booth to tell us that. We chatted with him for a few minutes and then even got a picture with him on the pitch at Lansdowne Rd (thanks to a nice Garda officer). Top guy!

Posted by: Kev | April 18, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

3 in the booth is surplus to requirements. But, at least Smythe knows the game better than DOB, who really wads my shorts.

It's funny that ESPN will continue to play against the desires of the existing hard core fan in the US, who almost unanimously despise their intended approach to the game. Obviously thay are after growing their audience rather than playing to the existing one. But jeez, throw us a bone...

Give us a guy who will respectfully enhance your viewing of the game by identifying players on the ball and getting out of the way.

Posted by: JkR | April 18, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Funny, I can see why he bugs people, but I actually enjoy his comments (mostly). Better him than the annoying voice of Julie Foudy.

Posted by: Hacksaw | April 18, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

He knows the game and he'll be entertaining. Good move for now at least.

Posted by: Sean | April 18, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Goff you got this one wrong...
A great move by MLS and ESPN.
I'm looking forward to the new team.

Posted by: Nick | April 18, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

He is awful. Anyone who thinks he's a good analyst doesn't know anything about football. The things that come out of his mouth usually have no basis in reality and then when he's confronted by a replay that shows how wrong he is he can't admit he was wrong. I doubt he ever played the game given the way he criticizes players over things he claims are easy plays when anyone who has played soccer knows are much harder than they look. He knows zero about the rules of the game yet will criticize the referee about some point of the law ad nauseum when he is actually 100% wrong. It just shows that he's an ignorant buffoon.

As for Hopkins, the guy played at a high level and didn't he grow up in Germany around the game? He's wasted as a sideline reporter. He and Max were always entertaining in their alternate universe of Galaxy butt-kissing. But on non-Galaxy games his commentary always seemed to be pretty good to me. A million times better than Smyth.

That press release makes it sound like Smyth will be a second sideline reporter. Or maybe they are looking for a way to force Waldo out after the Rome thing.

Posted by: Glenn | April 18, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Smyth is horrible. Agree with what Glenn said. His opinions are knee-jerk. He refuses to admit when replays show he is wrong. He adds nothing but made up words and a silly accent.

Give me JP and Sullivan.

Posted by: Andrew | April 18, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

PbP - J.P.Dellacamera
Color - Ray Hudson (The only one who lives up to
word 'color')
Sideline - No one Ever - Totally unnecessary

Wynalda - Get a job as a coach, and let someone
criticize you.

Tommy Smyth - Go put a bulge in an onion bag

BTW Play by play should consist of 70% to 80%
of all commentary.

No Interviews during the game.

No(lets see how many camera angles suck)Skycams!

Posted by: Drunken Duncan | April 18, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

It's not that Smyth is that terrible, it's that he, Stone, and Wynalda will never shut up. Stone and Wynalda together already talk for too much of the game; Smyth is also a noted talker. There will be no gaps of silence on these broadcasts.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | April 18, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I love the guy. This should put a bulge in the old MLS onion bag.

Seriously, the only time I have a problem with him is when there's an Irish guy on the pitch. Then he slices the Irish guy to ribbons while ignoring anything else that's happning on the field. Not too many Irish in MLS, so he should be pretty good I think.

Posted by: Matt | April 18, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Wynalda is way to in love with himself. Smyth is terrible, which I suppose has it's moments of non-sensical entertainment. Of course we aren't laughing with him...

If you want a rediculous broadcast team why not team Andres "gooool!!" Cantor with the crazy Scot from Gol TV. The guy who uses those preposterous similes throughout every game. Now that would be so bad that it would be good.

Posted by: Niv | April 18, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Tommy Smyth on MLS games? I guess I'll be watching them with the volume down, like I do Champions League matches. It's a shame, really; Derek Rae isn't bad. But I can't listen to Smyth. He's terrible, biased, and his voice is grating.

Posted by: Deanna | April 18, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Addendum: I forgot to say this, too, about Tommy Smyth: I'd almost rather listen to Max Bretos.

Posted by: Deanna | April 18, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Dear Peter of the Diatribe,

I've got a rock-and-a-hard-place question for you: How much experience do you have with, as you say, the beautiful game?

The conundrum? If you say "lots," that you were top scorer in the [insert illustrious pro league here], then you look stupid; if you say "AYSO and the occasional weekend rec league," then you look not-smart.

Tommy Smyth is really difficult to listen to. His support for the game in this country is admirable, and a story like Kev's makes me like him as a person. But I still watch most Champions League games believing that Derek Rae is fighting tooth-and-nail against the urge to ask Tommy (gently, politely) to please step out of his booth if he's going to continue with the hyperbolic nonsense.

Posted by: mike | April 18, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Those three in the booth remind me of a demolition derby. You know how it's going to end, just not EXACTLY how it's going to end.

You know that in the end, the whole thing will go down in flames, but your sense of morbid curiosity makes you refrain from hitting the mute button, just so you can hear exactly how far they can take you to the depths of their gawdawfulness.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | April 18, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Why can't ESPN just watch ANY match outside of the U.S. in ANY language and just copy that style??? I would imagine ESPN Deportes broadcasts a soccer match from time to time in Spanish; mayhaps there be a lesson there?

Posted by: Juan-John | April 18, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Why can't ESPN just watch ANY match outside of the U.S. in ANY language and just copy that style??? I would imagine ESPN Deportes broadcasts a soccer match from time to time in Spanish; mayhaps there be a lesson there?"

I think it relates to the age old question regarding soccer in the US, purity vs assimilation. ESPN might be scared to go with a more international approach, thinking it might alienate demographics (hey, this is corporate media, that's what its all about). And why hire more heads when you've got plenty of professional broadcasters on salary already?

Maybe the ESPN heads think that the dry, descriptive style of play calling might present itself like the classic Simpsons soccer crack (where Homer watches the World Cup match and the two central midfielders pass the ball back and forth with an English commentator describing the monotony)?

Posted by: Kev | April 18, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse


Hey Niv

If by "the crazy scot from GolTV" your referring to Ray Hudson, you should know that that's a Geordie accent, which means he's from Newcastle, England. That's not a mistake you want to make in front of either.

Posted by: Drunken Duncan | April 18, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Smyth is terribly. Ray Hudson, on the other hand, is amazing. Proof:

"Rangers are dancing the jig, and eating the haggis until it comes out their ears, followed by whiskey shots straightaway after the game, and it's marvelous for McLeish. I'm a Rangers man myself, so I had a good belt of whiskey after that game."

"Bruce Arena has to pick these boys up by their jockstraps and put lobsters in their jockstraps because they went down like flies against the Czech Republic, how humiliating to have that happen to a team that was coming out to the world scene seeking respect. What a joke!"

That's world class! That's Zidane, beyond belief! That's an absolute exquisite footballer -- MVP, no question. Magnifico! Extraordinario! That should be in high definition! That wasn't just literature, that was Shakespearan beauty! Ah, God, I'm sorry, I love that guy. If I could love a man, it'd be Dwayne DeRosario!"

"Because they [England] cannot play football, Lindsay! Because they are a set of neanderthals when they play the game! But in FIFA's eyes, they're No. 4 in the world. Caveman football! Caveman!"

"This referee has had no balance in his calls. Either that, or he's just a crap ref."

Posted by: jyidc | April 18, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Smyth any day over Obrien. Does Smyth know what he's doing? No, he's full of garbage often enough but its easier for me to laugh at and he's all wound up (reminds me of Dick Vital). O'brien would be far better in a pre-game post-game setting.

Posted by: Bill | April 18, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I think Bill's analogy of Dick Vitale a really apt one. Tommy Smyth has made whatever reputation he has by adopting the whole "saints perserve us; begots and beguile me" Irish stereotype. I'm not offended or taking the whole thing too seriously, I find his whole schtick kind of annoying. I just think he's full of it and adds zero to the broadcast. I find it funny that no one has any idea who he is in Ireland...trust me, I've asked.

Posted by: ABitOffsides | April 18, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

On Ray Hudson: I'll watch a match I otherwise have little interest in if Ray Hudson is doing color. The joy with which he describes a beautiful goal or a perfect service is infectious!

Posted by: KR in DC | April 18, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I'd take anyone over Eric Wynalda. He's like a ruder, more boorish version of the color commentator from "Best in Show." Wynalda, PLEASE give us one more story about your glory days and towl-snapping in the locker room.

Posted by: Andrew | April 18, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Yes: Hudson, Smyth, JP. Foudy's OK, but I always thought Wendy Gebauer(/Paladino?) was better. Mitts for the useless sideline gig.

I was going to join the A.B.D.O. crowd, but then I flashed back to Keogh/Edwards, so I have to qualify it as "anyone but them".

Didn't mind Max on random euro games with teams I don't really know, but his MLS broadcasts have been hard to take.

Posted by: Coach.Doug | April 18, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

You can't argue that Smyth adds comic value - best line from the World Cup 5 years ago: "If me mother had wheels, she'd be a bicycle!"

Question is, does MLS really want to come across as something to be laughed at?

Posted by: James C. | April 18, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Any football without DOB is a good thing.
The Smyth addition to the booth may take some time to work out, but I think others have had to be "talkative" in order to cover for DOB not knowing a freaking thing about football.

The sideline reporting needs to DISSAPEAR.

This is NOT the NFL. Absolutely NO need for it on ANY MLS broadcast. (there's also NO need for it in the NFL as well)

Commentation asside, the next thing ESPN needs to work on is the camera work.

Try some wider shots that actually show the BALL and the play away from it.

Secondly, replays of shots on goal need to be from a dedicated, STATIONARY camera. I want to throw up every time I see a replay where the cameraman is trying to zoom (jerkily) into the stitching of the ball. The NFL Films approach isn't working.

Can't wait till the Bundesliga relationship starts to pay of with coverage improvements.

Posted by: Drew | April 19, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I'll take Tommy as long as ESPN gets rid of Dave O'Brien. DOB is a moron! I was lucky to be in Germany for the World Cup so I didn't have to listen DOB destroy the greatest sporting event in the world. Now all ESPN has to do is replace Julie Foudy with Heather Mitts and I'll actually enjoy a broadcast. Here's my idea for two good broadcasting crews:
Rae /Stone - PBP
Waldo / Smyth - Color
Hopkins / Mitts - Sideline

Posted by: Sterlinho | April 19, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

For all the folks who are trying to figure out what our men in armor are getting all excited about, check out the man they would rather hate than congratulate.

_That_ is what has them foaming. If the haters played soccer with the same intensity they criticized soccer hosts, maybe the U.S. would have a decent soccer team.

As for my playing level, I don't see what it has to do with my analysis. Perhaps we can talk about the weather on Mars while we're at it? If you're all that interested, though, I suggest you see first-hand.

But bring your A game...because while we accept hackery in the comments, we don't accept it on the pitch.

Posted by: Peter | April 19, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

As PXP, put Adrian Healey. He was the Revs guy for a few years.

Him and Tommy were the best team in last year's World Cup- hands down!!

Posted by: johnny | April 20, 2007 1:00 AM | Report abuse

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