It hasn’t been a good few days for the United States. While many die-hard soccer fans have had to wince at the weekend’s World Cup coverage from ABC, the situation was made worse today by ESPN’s sycophant World Cup Live pre-show and a heavy 3-0 loss against the Czech Republic.
Before the Czech game, ESPN’s World Cup Live team of Rece Davis, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda and Julie Foudy hyped up the US team by naming them US’s “finest team” and their “best team in history.” Come on people, you’re supposed to be objective!
Especially criminal was how ESPN showed the US national anthem being played before the match, and the second it was over, the broadcaster broke to commercial thereby skipping the Czech anthem completely. That was a slap in the face to Czech fans in North America, and non-partisan soccer viewers.
During the match, US lead commentator Dave O’Brien did better than he did during yesterday’s Mexico vs Iran match (when O’Brien, again, appeared to “slow down” the tempo of the game with his slow and deliberate commentating).
ESPN drolled out too many statistics throughout the 90 minutes of the US match and, to make matters worse, the trivia facts were displayed as on-screen graphics blocking the bottom portion of the screen during important moments of the match.
This afternoon’s defeat is a wake-up call for the US and for ABC/ESPN. Let’s see how they respond on screen and on the field in the coming days.