As I discussed yesterday I love the Gold Cup. Perhaps the tournament needs to be moved back to February or made once every four years but I do support the event wholeheartedly.
The United States is in CONCACAF and I have made an effort to understand the rest of CONCACAF as well as I understand the USMNT. I certainly hope that has reflected in the coverage on this website and in my other work.
I take pride in being told by other media members that I was one of the few American based analysts who tipped Guadeloupe to be strong in the last Gold Cup or that pointed out that Honduras was without two of its most critical players in last month’s qualifier.
But the sad reality is to follow CONCACAF as closely as I feel I need to do so in order to provide objective and worthwhile coverage of the US Men’s National Team, I have to rely almost exclusively on Spanish language media to learn what I feel I should learn about our national team.
Knowing CONCACAF well also provides excellent scouting for MLS and USL-1/USL-2 for signing players. Just yesterday Seattle signed an excellent player, Leonardo Gonzalez who should have been signed by an MLS club years ago.
Fox Soccer Channel has the rights to the Gold Cup in English for the United States. Yet, as they did in 2005 and 2007 they are only showing games involving the United States. If someone who really wants to scout the players and learn the region wants to develop an understanding for the playing field the US faces (and MLS/USL teams in CONCACAF) we must rely on the Univision family of networks.
In the meantime, FSC shows reruns of alleged classic English Premier League games including the likes of Stoke City and West Brom. As I discussed during the Confederations Cup it would be great to have some sort of original FSC programming on US Soccer aside from the outstanding USL Breakaways show which is league produced.
Can you imagine a studio show with Max Bretos and Christopher Sullivan breaking down the US Confederations Cup run? Instead we get an FSC produced show of Manchester United highlights hosted by Nick Webster.
Summer is when football matters in the United States. Yet our most visible all football channels seem to think only the English and Italian game matters. Sure they show USL on Friday night, MLS on Saturday nights and WPS on Sunday nights but these seem to be afterthoughts in the bigger FSC thinking. No effort is given by the network to build the brand of US Soccer on the channel beyond Gold Cup matches.
For those who say “well the English Premier League and Serie A get more viewers,” please point to the EPL or Serie A game in the last ten years that got more US based viewers or media coverage than the two USMNT games last week in the Confederations Cup.
FSC has a tremendous asset in Christopher Sullivan and Max Bretos. Both know CONCACAF well and understand the culture of football in a way that no ESPN on air personalities do. Yet FSC limits their exposure and the exposure of anything North American.
To get our football news we must go beyond FSC, and as the rights holder for CONCACAF events, MLS, WPS and USL this is quite disappointing.