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Early Tuesday Kickaround

What do the Insider and Charlie Daniels Museum have in common? They're both in Nashville. Well, I'll be there soon. Access to the USA squad won't be available until late today or this evening, so in the meantime, you should know that.....

.....according to MLS sources, USA defender Gregg Berhalter is close to being released by 1860 Munich, which would clear the way for the New Jersey native to sign with the U.S. league. A few teams expressed initial interest in him weeks ago, but it's unclear how many remain in the chase. Los Angeles is believed to be at the top of the allocation list.

.....Fox Soccer Channel has won the rights to the UEFA Champions League starting next year.

.....the Insider's mock World Cup has reached the final day. Vote for the champion below, skip to the continuation to pick the third-place winner.

By Steve Goff  |  March 31, 2009; 3:45 AM ET
Categories:  FIFA , MLS , Poll , TV  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Problems With DCU Stadium Plan
Next: D.C. United vs. Hotel Lobby

Comments

Good work, Steve. Oh, and thanks for the info on Crayton. I think we were all getting a little antsy about our keeper.

Posted by: redskinsux | March 31, 2009 3:55 AM | Report abuse

any chance Berhalter could land up in DC?

Posted by: Beckster1 | March 31, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

any chance Berhalter could land up in DC?

Posted by: Beckster1 | March 31, 2009 6:46 AM


Sure there is. Even Greg Vanney wound up here, eventually. It wouldn't be fair to US Soccer to deny returning vets of the national team one last payday for all the good they've done for the sport.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | March 31, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

I don't like the Champs League going to FSC even though I get FSC. Last years final was on TV evereywhere I went: College common areas, Dr.s waiting room and at the gym while I worked out. It was also on TVs at bars. On FSC they can expect less exposure to the casual fan.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | March 31, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

FSC not broadcasting in HD does decrease my viewing of their programming. Hopefully winning this contract will speed their conversion to HD, but I doubt it.

Posted by: buck-bass-goal | March 31, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I don't like the Champs League going to FSC even though I get FSC. Last years final was on TV evereywhere I went: College common areas, Dr.s waiting room and at the gym while I worked out. It was also on TVs at bars. On FSC they can expect less exposure to the casual fan.

Posted by: 9Nine9
----------------------
I agree, but it is just like when the only way to see an MLS match is on Direct Kick. I don't like it, but they outbid the competition. I would love for network television or ESPN to cover it, but that's the nature of business. When I move back to DC this summer, I'll have to remember to sign up for FSC.

Posted by: troy6 | March 31, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

FSC winning the rights to Champions League is horrible news on a number of fronts....

ESPN is available in many more homes and the ratings for Champions League games have been on the rise. The ratings numbers will fall on FSC

FSC does not offer Hi-def and that is 100% horrible. The FSC feed on their current slate of games is often of crap picture quality and I have FIOS which makes analog channels look a little better and EPL games on FSC aren't that great.

if FSC goes HD by next year's champions league then maybe its a different story. But this is horrible news at the moment

Posted by: PineyO | March 31, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Worse than no coverage in bars, worse than no HD, is OMG do I have to listen to Max's "insight" and pronunciation?

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | March 31, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Congrats FSC. You've managed to stave off ESPN taking EPL rights (well, maybe - have they done the bidding for the US only rights yet?) and captured the Champions League. You are now THE destination for soccer in the US.

Here's a list of things you need to do before the summer.

1.) No more proactive commercials. My HS crush on Jennifer Love-Hewitt is over. Thanks cellulite pictures.

2.) GET HD. For the love of all things digital - non-HD sports broadcasting is a crime.

3.) Get yourself on the regular rotation of channels. I don't mind paying $5 a month to make sure I get to sit at home and see great stuff, however, you should now have enough rated material to save me $5.

4.) Keep your non-HD channel or find some other medium to broadcast (internet, perhaps) the live telecasts of ALL the days games and perhaps show them in HD on delay on the channel. Again, ESPN doesn't get many things right, but having multiple platforms to catch at least 2 if not more games a day - QUALITY!

5.) Hire Derek Rae and the rest of the ESPN soccer staff. If I hear Bretos on a European night, I'll mute him like I do for anything else on your channel. Again, you should have enough rated material and money from Pops Murdoch at this point to make sure the C Squad doesn't see the light of day again. If you have to do a sign and loan deal with ESPN for when they do World Cup or something else, so be it - but don't you dare keep your regular talent for Play-by-play and commentary.

6.) GET HD!

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 31, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

+1 on the FSC does not have HD critique.

FSC still operates with public-access cable channel production values.

Posted by: roadkit | March 31, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Didn't we know this FSC news 6 weeks ago?

The worst part is that FSC is only 1 station.

Posted by: Reignking | March 31, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

1.) No more proactive commercials. My HS crush on Jennifer Love-Hewitt is over. Thanks cellulite pictures.

--------------------

LOL! But hear, hear!! My goodness, if I have to hear Jessica Simpson say "just a little dab, that's all you need," I'm gonna kick in my TV screen.

Posted by: combedge | March 31, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

the hd thing is a bummer, but fsc will milk for all it's worth and probably keep more games in rotation constantly...so we will probably see more games (not just english teams).

Posted by: gode | March 31, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

All the complaints about FSC may be valid but at least they have a passion for the sport. Bristol treats the sport with disdain on a regular basis. They have no interest in marketing it or promoting it in this country. At least FSC cares about the sport in this country and will use UEFA to promote other soccer entities like MLS and WPS.
Everyone in the hockey world thought the sky was falling when the NHL made a similar move to Versus. However, Versus is now available on just about any system out there. In addition, hockey's TV ratings and attendance have actually risen nationally since the Versus contract started. In our area, the Capitals have seen unprecedented TV ratings and attendance the past few years.
The sky is not falling. Wait and see how this plays out.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 31, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

This Mastodon is a big fan of old-timey music, and went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum downtown to have a look, expecting a kitsch fest, and found one of the best music museums in the world. And the artifacts were pretty amazing. DadRyan in particular would love Gram Parson's stage suit, designed by Nudie Cohn and embroidered with a peculiar seven-leaf plant design.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 31, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh man! FSC get HD! I love that they show a lot of matches. But get HD!! If FSC has money to outbid ESPN, they should have the money for HD.

And yes, enough of the zit cream.

Posted by: hardcoco | March 31, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Worse than no coverage in bars, worse than no HD, is OMG do I have to listen to Max's "insight" and pronunciation?

---------------------------------

Max would find a way to make it sound as though "Ballack", "Rooney", "Eto'o" and even "Schweinsteiger" were all born in Latin America.

Posted by: BaltoFan | March 31, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Roger that, MJ. The Country Music Hall of Fame is fabulous, and I'm not even a fan of country music! One of the best several hours of my life.

Posted by: b18bolo | March 31, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

ESPN hates soccer!

Posted by: Reignking | March 31, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Croftonpost, you make a faulty assumption about NHL TV ratings. The Caps ratings benefit because they are seen by local viewers on Comcast (though you're right that Versus ratings are also up and it can be found on most cable systems). FSC on the other hand is not on all systems. In any case, I agree with all previous posts decrying FSC's lack of HD broadcasting and horrible announcers/color analysts. That has to change.

Posted by: gmAndAguinness. | March 31, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

4.) Keep your non-HD channel or find some other medium to broadcast (internet, perhaps) the live telecasts of ALL the days games and perhaps show them in HD on delay on the channel.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 31, 2009 9:10 AM

I'm guessing that FSC will subsidize this move by selling half the matches to Setanta - like they do with the Premier League.

Also, is ESPN broadcasting Champions League matches in HD this season - I thought it was still SD? (I always watch online at work, so not quite sure)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I seem to recall there being a cost issue with transatlantic HD transmissions, something about them costing 5x as much as domestic HD transmissions. Any TV pros out there want to confirm/deny that?

Posted by: Pedalada | March 31, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

In any case, I agree with all previous posts decrying FSC's lack of HD broadcasting and horrible announcers/color analysts. That has to change.

Posted by: gmAndAguinness. | March 31, 2009 9:57 AM

Maybe FSC will just use the Champs League production company English language announcers, with an intro from their own people - as they do with the Premier League.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Worse than no coverage in bars, worse than no HD, is OMG do I have to listen to Max's "insight" and pronunciation?

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | March 31, 2009 9:09 AM
----------------------------------------------

Yeeeeessssss!!!

(Sorry, there's just no way to configure the letters the way he says that, but man it's annoying.)

Posted by: HarkesyRules | March 31, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

This is a preety good match up that it can acutally happen. This could even happen in the next world cup. Right now Spain is the better team.

Posted by: RM27 | March 31, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Ummm Joe Doc? Forgetting something?

Charlie Daniels will tell you the good lord lives in Tenessee, ha!
But I'm going back to gator country where the wine and the women are free.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 31, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Some Recommendations for Nashville: Germantown Cafe, Sunset Grill and Tin Angel for pricier, but good. If you absolutely cannot get to Germantown or make it down to Hillsboro Village (where Vanderbilt and Belmont are), the best downtown place is Merchant's. Boscoe's is a nice budget place and Mafioza's has the best pizza. Bluebird Cafe is the best place for music at night and do not let anyone talk you into going to Pancake Pantry -it's rubbish, mate! If it's nice out, go across the street to Jackson's.

Posted by: StevenMaloney | March 31, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Have a blast in Nashville Steve! Wish I was there. The CMHF does sound pretty cool...I'm sorry we didn't have time for it when we passed through last.
What a paradox... I could knock up the wife again to lock in two more years of SAHDin' and watching plenty of European Football, but I won't be able to afford it because I need to upgrade to a cable box to watch Champions League next year... I guess the upside of re-entering the legitimate workforce is perhaps the spending power to make the jump, get a DVR in the process.
I still can't get the $5 FSC upgrade everyone talks so lovingly about as you need the box to even get it...
I really wouldn't care if DCU could get a proper TV deal. Or broadcast games on their website when the coverage isn't free locally.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 31, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

FSC coverage can only be an upgrade. Think about this.

They will not move the game or scare us of possible move when there is a conflict with handball or a hot dog eating contest. There will not be any sports ticker at the bottom of your screen. Even though the games are on a hi-def channel, they are not hi-def.

I suspect the coverage will be better as they will use a feed from England.

Posted by: peridigm | March 31, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I suspect the coverage will be better as they will use a feed from England.

Posted by: peridigm | March 31, 2009 10:16 AM

I seriously doubt they would use ITV or Sky's direct broadcast (they haven't done that stuff for years). But I'm pretty sure that UEFA produce a telecast (with commentary) that FSC could use. Or it will be Christian Miles commentating on all the action from the San Siro, live from a broom closet in beautiful downtown Burbank!

Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

gmAndAguinness,

I think Crofton's point was that Versus was not available on many cable systems when the NHL contract was signed and now it is.
As for the Capitals ratings, I don't get your point. The Capital's TV ratings on ComcastSportsNet are indeed at an all-time high this year. That is well documented to include the Washington Post. Your reference to local viewers confuses me. Comcast is a local channel.

Posted by: blackandred777 | March 31, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Congrats FSC. You've managed to stave off ESPN taking EPL rights (well, maybe - have they done the bidding for the US only rights yet?) and captured the Champions League. You are now THE destination for soccer in the US.

Here's a list of things you need to do before the summer.

1.) No more proactive commercials. My HS crush on Jennifer Love-Hewitt is over. Thanks cellulite pictures.

2.) GET HD. For the love of all things digital - non-HD sports broadcasting is a crime.

3.) Get yourself on the regular rotation of channels. I don't mind paying $5 a month to make sure I get to sit at home and see great stuff, however, you should now have enough rated material to save me $5.

4.) Keep your non-HD channel or find some other medium to broadcast (internet, perhaps) the live telecasts of ALL the days games and perhaps show them in HD on delay on the channel. Again, ESPN doesn't get many things right, but having multiple platforms to catch at least 2 if not more games a day - QUALITY!

5.) Hire Derek Rae and the rest of the ESPN soccer staff. If I hear Bretos on a European night, I'll mute him like I do for anything else on your channel. Again, you should have enough rated material and money from Pops Murdoch at this point to make sure the C Squad doesn't see the light of day again. If you have to do a sign and loan deal with ESPN for when they do World Cup or something else, so be it - but don't you dare keep your regular talent for Play-by-play and commentary.

6.) GET HD!

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 31, 2009 9:10 AM

============
7. More importantly, get on board on the regular network so many people will have access. Right now it's pretty much cut off. Make the channel available to local TVS.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | March 31, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Crofton: yes, NHL ratings are up. But since they started this in the post-lockout season where ratings were only slightly higher than cspan, it's not much to compare it to. The NHL limped to versus because literally no one else would pay them a thin dime. Almost everyone can get Nfl network, too. How many people watch those Thursday night games? Having champions league on basic cable has been good for mls and us soccer. So, I think, has video games and YouTube. There are a lot of kids out there who aren't going to see Messi play now. I remember growing up in comparative soccer hotbeds like Portland and only seeing a few world cup matches, grainy VHS tapes and what we could pirate off a friend's satellite dish. We never saw European cup finals. Heck, to see the 1990 world cup final in Rome took my dad bribing a bouncer at a club to let me in. No one will stumble onto fsc.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 31, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

joshuaostevens,

Actually the past two NHL Winter Classic games on NBC have seen the highest hockey ratings in decades, so there is something to compare it to. NBC's weekly ratings are up as well. The NHL is definitely on the rise, which is well documented.

It is deals like this that will attract cable companies to offer FSC as a basic channel. The better their programming, the better the chances. Verizon FIOS already offers FSC as part of their basic package.


Posted by: blackandred777 | March 31, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

If they're smart, now that the Final is being played on a SATURDAY, they'll put that game on the regular FOX channel (Channel 5 in the DC area) for the most exposure.

And if CONCACAF is smart, IT will schedule its Champions League Final on the same day, so people can watch UEFA and then go to our region.

Posted by: Juan-John | March 31, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

ESPN did HD for the Final 2-3 years ago to test their HD transmission for that years World Cup. But I don't think they have done so since, no? Which CL games are they showing in HD? None, to my memory.

My FSC picture quality is fine on DirecTV, as fine as standard def can be, which isn't much.

Posted by: JkR- | March 31, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The Saturday Final on FOX affiliates would be intriguing. They could get a decent audience for that - maybe a few million viewers.

Fox will also be using this to gain more Spanish tier viewers/subscribers for Fox Sports Espanol.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

FSC actually has far more than one channel at its disposal. In addition to their main FSC channel, their is FSE for Spanish, on which most of the games are broadcast in Enlgish anyway.

But also, Fox can put reairs of games on any number of channels, including Fox Sports regional channels (which they do now with the Premier League - they even show up on CSN), and the three Fox College Sports channels, which at times in the past have shown the CFL.

Posted by: writered21 | March 31, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I want to echo EVERYTHING that's already been said. This isn't a good thing -- it will retard the growth of soccer here. FSC is a basic level channel on Verizon, but not on cable systems -- and their production values suck. Plus, how many bars know where to find FSC?

Speaking of Verizon -- I want to take the time again to decry the charges there. The $5 I used to pay Comcast got me FSC and Gol. I like that I don't pay Verizon extra for FSC, but I'm not going to pay $15 for Gol. Or Setanta. I probably wouldn't pay that much for both, but definitely not for either one.

Other reasons why I don't like the FSC deal -- Being one channel means there isn't another live option. Doesn't mean much if you're at work, but for others, it was cool to have a choice of 2 games -- and possibly a third with the 5:00 Classic game. Kids coming home from school had a bonanza. FSC will keep recorded games in rotation, but it's not quite the same, is it?

Lastly, for the reasons I mentioned above -- FSC will put recorded games into heavy rotation -- this will seriously retard the growth of the CONCACAF Champions' League. Anyone want to bet that FSC will show a game between the Puerto Rico Islanders or the Minnesota Thunder and Joe Public or Marathon, when they might feature a Manchester United Or Real Madrid replay?

If FSC has greater ambitions -- higher ratings, better ads, greater basic cable access, HD broadcasts for MLS, maybe even a second channel or boosting Fox Sports Espanol -- and this serves as a catalyst for all that, I guess it could be a net positive. It's just I doubt any of that will happen.

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

BTW -- I voted for the European sides. Better goalkeeping and defense.

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

About Berhalter -- I'm sure LA would be interested, so the question is whether he has the kind of pull that McBride had, to force a trade to another team. It's assumed that he would prefer to be on the East Coast, with NY or DC. What would LA demand to trade him to DC?

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sold on this FSC move either. The good news is that they do have a plan to go HD!

Posted by: PHXguy | March 31, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Bandr: my point exactly. Ratings on vs. are up, but not nearly as much as networks. Vs. may have saved the NHL, but now it is crippling it. The only thing keeping the NHL in the public eye over the past half decade was local tv deals, stunts like the Winter Classic and the rise of the young guns like Ovie, Malkin and Crosby. Sure, in some places the fan base went deep enough to beg for OLN/vs. I'm sure you could get it in Detroit, for instance, but was there any growth before things like the Winter Classic started to draw attention back? I get 150 channels from Comcast (can't get Fios) and vs. isn't one of them. I do get Golf, though.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 31, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Let me rephrase that as a question: if the Winter Classic was on versus, would the casual fan have ever heard about it?

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 31, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Good news...no more Tommy S. and Seamus M. Bad news...potentially have to listen to Max B. and Christopher S. on FSC. Please, please, please...FSC please use the game commentary from overseas, as you currently do with the EPL!

Posted by: soccerguy1 | March 31, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

No Seamus Malin is "good news"? You're dissing my entire adolescence. Jim Karvalis and Seamus Malin bringing "Cosmos Soccer".

Posted by: fischy | March 31, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

There could be good and bad coming from the FSC thing. Maybe, the folks there will be more willing to show games that don't actually feature English clubs -- the horror! -- but, those matches may not necessarily come equipped with ready-made English commentary. So, if we decide to take a flier on Lyon-Bayern, there is a chance we would have to hear Bretos make a meal out of "Jooniiiiiiin-yo!!"
I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | March 31, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, the folks there will be more willing to show games that don't actually feature English clubs -- the horror!

Posted by: mjhoya12 | March 31, 2009 12:52 PM

Why would FSC be interested in lower ratings? English soccer is their flagship as well. And ESPN do show non-English clubs, often on ESPN Deportes, ESPN 360 or ESPN Classic.

People who complain about access to international soccer really need to remember what it was like just 10 years ago.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

joshuaostevens,


I used to watch OLN/Versus on Comcast before I switched to my cable system to Verizon FIOS. It was part of my basic package. If it is not part of yours then that is truly perplexing as Comcast owns the Versus network. I don't want to get into hockey discussions much more on a soccer blog but you're just wrong about the trend in hockey. It is trending up not down and that is a fact not an opinion. Look it up.

Posted by: blackandred777 | March 31, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

This really sucks.

Posted by: carmines757 | March 31, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I just saw something on a another soccer blog (infinitely worse soccer blog, of course) implying that Champions league games have been in HD on ESPN2 THIS YEAR.

Can anyone confirm that?

Posted by: JkR- | March 31, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

People who complain about access to international soccer really need to remember what it was like just 10 years ago.
Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 1:37 PM
==============

It sucked because it wasn't in HD.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 31, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I can confirm that they are not in HD. Says so right on the ESPN site - http://sports.espn.go.com/espntv/espnGuide

Just check out next week's quarterfinals - no red "HD" next to Man U-Porto and Liverpool-Chelsea.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 31, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, please...FSC please use the game commentary from overseas, as you currently do with the EPL!

===


Some of the EPL commentary is pretty bad as well. I was watching a NU match a while back and it was overly loud and partisan. Not sure who was doing the talking.

Posted by: mason08 | March 31, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

From "The Gaffer" on the EPLTalk.com blog:

"The latest rumor is that Fox is contemplating showing the final on FX, so that would definitely give it a huge audience on a Saturday afternoon."

Posted by: Juan-John | March 31, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Heck, to see the 1990 world cup final in Rome took my dad bribing a bouncer at a club to let me in. No one will stumble onto fsc.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 31, 2009 10:30 AM

Really?
That Germany/Argentina final was on TNT.
That was regular cable even back in 1990...

Posted by: oranjebleeder | March 31, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

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