Few countries in the world offer as much for soccer fans in the United States. Within range, there are tons of soccer-crazed bars and pubs, and the occasional national team game. This summer alone, we’ll see Barcelona, Manchester United, MLS games, Copa America and much more. However, when it comes to watching the most important tournament for the United States national team this summer, a difficult decision hangs in the balance for many soccer fans.
The Gold Cup is an important step for the men’s national team this summer, but more selfishly, it offers a chance to see the US team play meaningful games at convenient times. These are games where fans do not have to get up at 6am to watch their team play, nor do they have to risk being fired for watching the game at work (ATDHE, you are a gift from the gods, but please stop putting viruses on my work computer, my bosses are getting suspicious). Meaningful weeknight games are a rarity for US soccer fans, and the Gold Cup delivers plenty over the next three weeks.
Unfortunately for fans that also subscribe to Comcast, Fox Soccer Channel is not yet available in HD aside from the “test markets” of Albuquerque, Philadelphia and Seattle. The rest of the country is stuck watching in standard definition, or so we thought. Lucky for us, Copa Oro is wildly popular with the Spanish speaking community as well, evidenced by the 80,000-plus that witnessed Mexico’s beatdown of El Salvador at Cowboys Stadium this past weekend. Telefutura and Univision are also carrying the games, and both of those channels are available in HD. I found myself watching both Costa Rica vs. Cuba and Mexico vs. El Salvador without even checking to see if they were on FSC in English.
When the USA takes on Canada Tuesday night, many fans will be faced with the dilemma of watching on FSC with American commentators or on Telefutura HD with Spanish speaking announcers. The difference in picture quality is such that the decision is not a difficult one in the least. Telefutura’s presentation is not overly fancy or intrusive and after a few minutes, it is just as easy to ignore their commentators as it would be to ignore JP Dellacamara or whoever else is in the FSC booth (I’d be OK if I never heard JP say “This is better from the US” again).
The one oddity of the Spanish broadcast is the restarting of the scoreboard clock at halftime. It takes a bit of adjusting to when you see “2T, 26:00” and have to add 45 to that to realize it is actually the 71st minute. It doesn’t make much sense but then again, it doesn’t make much sense to bring a 37 year old Cuauhtemoc Blanco to the World Cup either.
Ideally, fans would have a dual-TV system where you could sync it up to have the FSC commentators turned up and watch the HD feed on mute. Realistically, that is probably not an option for most people so the decision must be made: Copa Oro or Gold Cup.
I, for one, will be choosing Copa Oro, and while I understand that will be met with criticism with the fierce USA-Mexico rivalry undertone, it is simply a personal enjoyment decision. Soccer in HD is head and shoulders above SD, and while FSC/Comcast lag behind, Copa Oro is a far more enjoyable experience. The occasional “goooaaalllll” call never hurt anyone either.