On a cold and rainy night in Portland, Oregon, a special moment took place Friday when you watched the Fox Soccer Channel game of the week. The suspense and the anticipation were growing as the hours became minutes, then seconds before start time. At 10pm ET the pre-game show started and the new age of MLS games being broadcast by a professional sports network designed for the game was finally giving this American League the respect that it truly deserved.
The name change to “Soccer Night in America” was fantastic and the logo looked bold and strong. The new theme music was powerful and it felt like you wanted to jump through the television and be at Jeld-Wen Field. The scoreboard looked simple and solid. You didn’t have to wonder if the graphics guy used Microsoft Paint to set it up. Even the commercials to get ready for this game and the change looked better.
After what Fox Sports does for their coverage of Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the National Football League and their regional Fox Sports Net channels, MLS has finally been rewarded with the type of production that has been sorely lacking to move the game forward in the United States to the next level. The only thing I felt that was overdone a bit with the graphics was the continued explanation of the colors both sides were wearing to distinguish each other.
Other than that little critique, it was a fantastic display from Fox Soccer and hopefully when this one year extension is finished, both the channel and the league can come together with a brand new production contract with many years and continue with what we have seen from this match and the rest of the 2011 season.
The first phase of this new set up by Fox was to hire J.P. DellaCamera who is one of the top broadcasters in the country. Adding these new graphics and sound was the second phase of this plan. But as I have said before, more needs to be done to make the game in the States more watchable and to give the league and American soccer more respect.
More US Open Cup games than just the Championship Final, extending the weekly shows all year round to discuss our leagues and to have a soccer radio show that is also simulcast on the channel are must-haves. If Mike & Mike in the Mornings can be simulcast on ESPN Radio and on ESPN TV, then hopefully FSC can attempt to do the same thing with someone who has a show on regular radio or Sirius/XM.
I know that I am getting ahead of myself on this issue. Yet we have seen all four major sports can be discussed and given respect like this in the mainstream sports media, soon American soccer needs to be put into the same limelight as the rest of them are. The popularity of the sport is growing in this country and very soon, it will be time that the sports media accepts this and welcomes it with open arms.