FOX Lowers The Bar On Televised Soccer Games With ‘American Voice’ Gus Johnson

While soccer fans in the United States were glued to their TV sets and Internet on Tuesday afternoon to watch Manchester United against Real Madrid on FOX Soccer, a major announcement was happening at the same time in New York City. At the Upfront Show in the Big Apple, FOX was pulling out all the stops to announce the forthcoming launch of FOX Sports 1, the new network launching in August that will cause a seismic shift in the US sports landscape.

While most of the media’s attention at the show was focused on what the announcement meant for traditional American sports, FOX Sports 1’s plans for soccer were unveiled albeit without mentioning a single word about what the outcome would mean for FOX Soccer, which will undoubtedly shut down as early as this summer.

For soccer fans, what was very revealing about FOX’s presentation on Tuesday was the man that was integral for the soccer portion was none other than FOX Soccer’s new lead commentator Gus Johnson.

At the same time that Johnson was in the gantry at Old Trafford in Manchester alongside Warren Barton on Tuesday afternoon, Johnson was included in a taped segment to promote FOX Sports 1 in front of the media, top brass and major advertisers.

FOX Sports has placed Gus Johnson on a pedestal as their new poster child for soccer in the United States.

That decision puts everything more clearly into perspective. The move to throw Johnson into the deep end to commentate four games thus far (both legs of Real Madrid-Man United, Arsenal-Bayern and Man City-Chelsea) makes sense from a business perspective. Create a buzz. Generate publicity. Give him experience. And set the stage for the future. In the mind of FOX Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks, Gus Johnson equals bigger revenue numbers (from a combination of greater advertising revenues and higher TV ratings as a result of the “Gus Factor”).

Putting Gus Johnson in the hot seat as FOX’s lead soccer commentator is a low risk game. All of the games that Johnson has and will commentate will be high-profile matches where there’ll be a lot of people tuning in (except for perhaps the Manchester City-Chelsea game, which — while high profile — kicked off at 8:30am ET on a Sunday morning, and FOX Soccer conveniently hasn’t shared the TV ratings). Plus, the bottom line, is that whether we love Gus Johnson’s commentaries or not, we’re going to be tuning into the games anyway because there are no other legal options to watch them other than some of the games on FOX Soccer 2Go, which has a subscriber base that is a minute percentage of the total US soccer community.

Out of everything that was announced on Tuesday, the most remarkable development was a tweet by a Sports Business Journal reporter:

I have massive issues with what Shanks said for two reasons. One, it undermines Gus Johnson’s ability as a talented commentator. Instead, he’s just a “voice.” And two, Shanks’s rationale for selecting Johnson is completely misguided.

In my opinion, which I’ve stressed all along, we soccer fans should expect to have a talented and experienced commentator announcing the games. We should expect the best of the best. If that person is American, I have no problem with that. Try to get Phil Schoen or Glenn Davis out of their contracts. Or promote John Strong. But if the American that was chosen is a self-acclaimed soccer novice who repeatedly makes mistakes in games and reduces the quality of the experience, then that’s an awful decision by FOX.

FOX is in the business of generating revenue, not pandering to soccer fans. But I feel we’ve been dealt a huge injustice by having Gus Johnson thrown on us. I don’t blame Johnson for this, but he certainly isn’t experienced enough to handle the biggest soccer games in the world. He’ll improve over time, but having Johnson announce games is a gigantic step down from the commentaries we were getting before Johnson made his soccer debut last month.

What the introduction of Gus Johnson to the US soccer community does bring is one, the shift of soccer on TV from a niche sport to the mainstream. And two, the shift from foreign accents to an American voice commentating European soccer games on FOX. These are two seismic shifts. However, FOX’s decision to have an American voice instead of focusing on experience flies right in the face of how NBC is planning to bring us the Premier League.

Philosophies aside, I’m really disappointed by FOX’s decision to transform Gus Johnson into a soccer commentator because it downgrades the quality of soccer coverage and sends a strong message to the soccer community that “We don’t care about you anymore.”

Others have noticed, too. BBC World Football Phone-In correspondent Sean Wheelock had this to say about Johnson:

“I found it painful to watch Manchester United playing in the Champions League on television commentated by someone who absolutely had no clue what they were watching. It’s a stunt, quite frankly.”

A member of the media who was in the TV area at the Manchester City-Chelsea game where Gus Johnson commentated alongside Lee Dixon, revealed to EPL Talk that Johnson “before kick-off was asking Dixon to pronounce Mancini” and that “some of the questions Dixon was asked showed an embarrassing ignorance.”

You would think that Johnson would have done his homework well before this match was ready to kick off.

I see potential in Gus Johnson but I honestly feel he’s in over his head. In the second leg of the Manchester United-Real Madrid match, he was much better overall and started strongly but both he and co-commentator Barton ran out of steam from about minute 75 on, and sapped the energy and excitement out of the match.

Johnson talked too much at inopportune times in the game. For example, when Manchester United were on the attack in Real Madrid’s half, Johnson was telling us that “the draw for the quarter-finals is on March 15.” Save that for after the game. Or when Real Madrid were attacking with Kaka in the penalty box, Johnson was talking about Alex Ferguson and how “[the ref] is going to get an earful,” only to be interrupted by the ball banging against the near post, which forced Gus into commentating on the action with a “What a shot” call.

Then there were the catalog of ‘Did he really say that?’ moments by Johnson in the game where he announced “Ronaldo fires” as the shot sailed harmlessly into the crowd, pronounced Sergio Ramos as “Sergio Romos,” and the annoying staccato commentary best illustrated by Johnson’s call of the Modric’s goal: “Modric. Step. Fires. Luka Modric. The former Spurs star comes in and delivers a huge blow and we are knotted up.”

Listening to a commentary with Gus Johnson isn’t as exciting or informative as when Martin Tyler, Phil Schoen, Alan Parry, Jon Champion or a host of many other names are calling a game. The biggest loser in all of this is the soccer fan. The person who has been watching and supporting soccer all these years only to have a switcheroo made for some apparent reason.

I’m still waiting for a good Gus call that makes me go, “Yes, that’s why FOX hired him.” But perhaps the reason why they hired him is only because of two things. He’s American and he’ll generate ratings.

Photo credit: Richard Deitsch.

145 thoughts on “FOX Lowers The Bar On Televised Soccer Games With ‘American Voice’ Gus Johnson”

      1. It is remarkable… You may like the basketball announcer, but most DON’T… Gaffer and the posters here have very valid points… So either join in and share your opinion and back it up or go somewhere else


        1. I don’t like Gus. I think he’s out of his element.

          What I like even less though is reading the weekly “Why Gus Johnson sucks” manifesto on a site that really has a lot more to offer than this.

          EPLTalk is far too intelligent a forum for this to be the most commented on article.

          1. Sorry but most people don’t want to accept mediocrity…if you accept this joke then it will stay.. Voicing your opinion is the only way change will happen.


          2. Matt, it’s an intelligent debate about a monumental change that FOX Soccer has made to its coverage of the English game.

            Where else can soccer fans talk intelligently about this development?

            The Gaffer

      2. If it’s so tired why do so many readers keep responding to it? Because it is important to them. If it is not to you, quit reading. It’s not like there are no other threads.

  1. In my opinion, John Strong is perhaps the best of the “new” generation of American announcers who now call soccer regularly.

    Unfortunately, Strong’s Q-rating isn’t “strong” enough to generate the buzz that Eric Shanks is looking for.

    1. I liked strong when he filled in for Rob Stone, he kept things simple and to the point which is all we can ask for. Then again you could put a sack of potatoes on Rob stones chair and it would still be a upgrade.

  2. Too bad the ref didn’t walk up to the commentators booth and give a red card to Gus Johnson for horrible and ear pain inducing commentary.

  3. The ‘stunt hiring’ is really my issue with it. I’ve made plenty of jokes about Gus Johnson along the way but I love his work in basketball and American football. If he continues to study and work with the right teams he can develop. There’s still plenty of time for him to get it right for the World Cup.

      1. Its not about being american… Its about havin the knowledge about the sport and not jus calling the players names an reading facts that some assistant gave u …its so damn annoying an distracting to listen to this guy …spoiling the games for me

  4. I like Gus. I know how how a majority of EPL fans love having an english accent but not ALL soccer fans are fans of that. The World Cup and Champions League is not all English. Its gonna happen sooner or later that we would have Americans announciung games in America. Sorry to wake you up from your all British accent games.

    1. I have no problem with that, but why hire someone who is not the best fit for the job other than possessing the ability to generate ratings?

      The Gaffer

        1. I know. It was a rhetorical question.

          The only way for the ratings to fail would be for soccer fans to watch the games illegally, which is something I disagree with.

          The Gaffer

          1. The Nielsen sample size that determines TV ratings is only 25k households. 5k for the national ratings and 20k for local ratings. I just don’t see enough households turning the TV off to watch the game on the computer just for the World Commentary feed that it will really make a dent in the ratings. Even if the person turns the sound off the TV and puts on a internet stream of the game FOX will still get credit for the household watching the game as long as the TV is on.

            If anything Gus has got FOX more coverage for better or for worse. More people have talking about the games that Gus has commentated on than they would have otherwise.

            Plus FOX does offer a legal means to a lot of digital cable customers in the US by streaming the World Commentary feed on FOX Deportes by turning on the SAP option on the cable box.

          2. Remember, we are talking about daytime ratings. European soccer is on TV live in the mornings and afternoons in the US.

            Some fans will tape or watch a rerun avoiding the posted score.
            There aren’t millions of these folks.

            Prime Time soccer is the MLS. MLS agrees their ratings are low. It is a challenge for them.

        2. So the Fox assumption is that American soccer fans will watch soccer now that Gus Johnson is commentating?…or any other American voice?

          Doesn’t that seem a little foolish?

          Gus Johnson is adding nothing to the ratings. People are tuning in to watch United-Real Madrid. Whoever is commentating the match is an after-thought.

          Having crap commentators is actually turning off the hardcore soccer fans. That’s the issue. Fox is irritating a large portion of their audience.

          And they must be aware of it because they are offering alternate commentating feeds on FoxSoccer2Go. You were actually able to chose between United-Real Madrid and United-Real Madrid (Gus Johnson commentary) on Tuesday.

          Problem is, not everyone is paying the extra cash for FoxSoccer2Go.

          1. Do you really think that there are enough people who would be willing to turn off fox to find the game on an illegal stream with much lower video quality.

            I really enjoy this website, but sometimes I think some of you are not capable of looking at the bigger picture and get stuck into the “hardcore” fan perspective.

          2. I’m trying to reply to Brad, but there is no link.

            Brad, if you’ve been reading the articles and comments, there are a number of people who have been talking about “muting” the matches and syncing them to the TalkSport feed (I havent gone that far yet).

            But there are a number of people turning to illegal feeds.

            The number of people doing these things may not be huge, but it represents a portion of the audience.

            That doesn’t make much sense as a business. Especially one that is on the verge of losing a large portion of their audience to NBC once the season is over.

            If I worked for Fox, I would be finding ways to keep the hardcore fans on board. Rather than push them out the door.

          3. Pete, I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. I respect that you believe this will alienate some viewers and I agree that it might. You can’t please everyone. I just think that some people on here don’t recognize the other side of the argument because they only look at the comments here or follow people with similar views on twitter.

            I don’t think a commentator like Gus converts basketball fans to soccer. I think it does creat a buzz and encourages more casual sports fans that have at least some interest in soccer to watch. In my opinion this group far outnumbers the people who would turn to illegal streams as an alternative.

          4. Brad let me say one phrase to you Monday Night Football!!! Do you remember when they switched commentators a few years ago? I think they bought in Dennis Miller if memory serves me correctly; the NFL viewers went absolutely bananas and within 6 games or something like that Miller was gone.

            Why did the NFL fans go nuts you ask? Well Miller was seen as someone who knew jack squat about football, which was actually not true. He was not seen as a guy who had the qualifications and as such was forced out.

            We as footie fans are now faced with a similar situation, the main difference is that in this case Gus Johnson actually knows very little about this sport.

            With this in mind you are suggesting that we sit here quietly and eat the gruel that FOX is shoveling onto our plate and we say NO!!

            Gaffer keep writing and we will all keep posting on every forum in ever venue we can so that FOX gets the message, we should not be forced to do something illegal to view a proper footie feed.

          5. Why are all the reply buttons missing?

            Dennis Miller worked MNF for two full seasons, not “six games or something like that”.

          6. Kris….it’s just the way the new system works. After about 4 indents comments just stack, so you have to use the person’s name to be sure your response is understood.

  5. “What the introduction of Gus Johnson to the US soccer community does bring is one, the shift of soccer on TV from a niche sport to the mainstream.”

    Not sure why you keep going on about this if you already have a clear understanding of why they are doing this.

  6. So gaffer if you had to bet your last $100 on who’s going to be NBCs main guy for games who would you go with?

    Have your heard any rumors about who’ they might bring in to be the face of football next season?

    As for FSC I’ve already gave notice to them to cancel the channel the day after the FA cup final.

    1. @ruffneckc – What gives you the impression that Fox cares what anyone thinks? They march to their own drummer and play by their own rules (read – “who cares if phone hacking is illegal, we are still going to do it”). Fox doesn’t care what this or anyother site has to say about Gus Johnson, Rob Stone or anyone.

      Gaffer, I seriously doubt that Fox’s rebranding of their sports channels “will cause a seismic shift in the US sports landscape.” I believe the only thing that will change are logos and on which channel their current programs will appear.

  7. Time to put this to bed. Points well given. It is what it is, and its not life threatening nor even a nuisance.

    Lets move to more fun-filled subjects like Alex Fergusons’s depression, Chivas USA’s contribution making MLS a major league, or how Rooney is always going to pass the ball to Ibra when he goes to PSG. Of course, there is always a red card to debate. Yes he did, no he didn’t. . . .

    1. I will give you a thumbs up for that one, Ed (even if I think Gus can definitely be classified as a “nuisance”. 😉

  8. I’m glad Gaffer is bringing it up… Those of you that just say get over it obviously don’t know or understand quality of the match you are watching… This is a huge experiment for Fox to try to get more ratings… Gus is not going to convert baseball and basketball fans.. The only buzz out there is how bad Johnson is… Check out twitter.. This past match was the worst… Padding his commentary with mind numbing stats and then missing the whole build up of the action… He needs to ply his trade on less marquee games and then he wouldn’t be getting all of this criticism… But he doesn’t and it all is justified.


    1. I absolutely understand the quality of the match, and guess what? Gus isn’t playing in it.

      I don’t think he’s great, but I don’t get my panties in a twist over it. When I listen to soccer in Spanish, which has a SIGNIFICANTLY different style from the English one, I don’t lose it either.

      1. Thank you… YOU are the perfect example of someone who DOESN’T get it … Enjoy your basketball announcer


        1. I “don’t get it”? Or “I don’t agree with you”?
          I just don’t care enough to be mad. I’d rather have Gus train somewhere else, but really… eh.

          1. Its not jus a different voice ..he is annoying an distracting ..jus callin players names an reading stats is all he does .maybe if he knew how to commentate on football it woulnt have been that bad..thank god nbc has the BPL nex season ..but fox still has champion league ..still sucks

  9. I hear what everyone is saying about this topic. But the bottom line is the addition of Gus Johnson to telecasts is irritating a portion of the soccer viewing audience.

    If we don’t continue to voice our opinions and/or write articles on the subject, Fox will believe that the problem is solved. Or that people have just accepted their decision.

    We are all paying for Fox Soccer and FoxSoccer2Go. That entitles us to our opinion.

    We can also chose alternative options for viewing the events (which I have done).

    Once the EPL season is over, I won’t be subscribing to Fox Soccer or FoxSoccer2Go. When the Champions League and World Cup come around again, I will find alternate viewing options.

    1. Great points… We need to keep voicing our opinions…. I watched this last match via alternative means … It was easy and very clear. So good that I’m thinking about dumping Fox as well


        1. Itv player…will be using it this weekend as well itv has the United v Chelsea clash…. Just need a post code and expat shield


    2. Pete, You are entitled to your opinion whether you pay for Fox Soccer or not.

      In any case it will be gone this summer. Gus won’t. He will be on Fox 1, which like NBC (for Prem matches) is free if you have extended basic.

  10. Tuesday’s United-Real match really was Johnson’s most cringe-inducing so far. I would argue that (incredibly) he’s actually regressed over the four games. And how would Shanks know whether or not Gus was doing a good job? How much international soccer does he watch? What does he know about the game? This has been a bad joke played on the American soccer community and it needs to end!

    Gaffer, thanks for continuing to focus on this issue. If we let it drop it will be a signal of acceptance. And frankly America’s soccer fans deserve better than what we are getting with Johnson, whether that announcer be foreign or domestic.

      1. When you do not know the game you will be found out, the first couple games it was covered up but as time goes on his lack of prep, knowledge as well as the fact that he has taken this job to pad his resume will show.

        While I don’t blame Johnson for being on the air he was greedy and ballsy enough to think oh footie I can do that no problem, how much different can it be than a basketball game? Well Gus it is light years different.

        1. Not sure whether he was greedy for the case of “it’s my job: I can’t turn it down”.
          The problem with FOX is they should’ve assigned him to “smaller” matches instead of this huge match.

  11. Also, can someone shows me one shred of evidence that having Gus Johnson announce these games has resulted in an even incremental bounce in ratings? The only think I can see that this decision has raised is the ire of soccer fans.

    1. Don’t think there is a good sample, yet.In any case, like the gaffer stated, FOX won’t release the data.

      Whether you are a MLS follower or not, the number watching this weekend’s matches on ESPN were less than 120,000.

      Also, live broadcasts from England and Europe are on US TV at early start times. In effect, it is daytime TV, which attracts fewer viewers than prime time.

      No one has seen a European or English match in prime time on American TV.

  12. lets be real here, NO commentator in ANY sport is bringing up ratings. has anyone ever watched a game they wouldnt otherwise simply due to who was announcing it? i highly doubt it. we watch for the game. the announcers are like refs and offensive lineman. they are only noticed when they do things. plenty of people however have tuened off a game because of an announcer. that is the only result that could happen with this “experiment”

    1. Yes. I am much more inclined to watch Big10 basketball, NCAA Football, Monday Night Football because Mike Tirico is announcing…and much, much less inclined to watch anything having to do with Gus Johnson, Ray Hudson or Arlo White.

      Announcers most definitely add/or detract to/from my viewing experience.

  13. Guys named Gus fly rockets they don’t call football. Any game called by an American gets muted in my house. Case in point today’s Europa games. His comparison to basketball was the final nail in the coffin, I almost shot the TV. I will be cancelling my cable service and moving on. Best of luck.

  14. I think it’s fine to keep talking about this. I mean, I LIKE Gus Johnson on other sports, so I was mildly curious to see how he did. But, now that the novelty has worn off, we realize that he just isn’t very good at this job. He might become good with practice, but he isn’t there now.

    I question how attractive Gus is to non-soccer fans. I mean….I just can’t imagine that you have non-soccer fans tuning in and watching a game just to listen to Gus.

    Secondly, how would these non-soccer fans be well-served by a commentator who isn’t very good. I know that when I was getting into soccer as an adult, I CRAVED good commentary who could explain little stuff like dummy runs or defenders being on the wrong shoulder. The most daunting thing for American newbie fans is that there isn’t an instant replay after every play, often with someone pausing the action and drawing all over the screen like you have in American football. Gus can’t help new fans.

    I’m not sure where he should learn his craft. Probably with local broadcasts of some MLS team.

    1. Dean first he should have about a year reviewing games with a qualified ref explaining the rules to him as well as why some things are so very nuanced, then he should apprentice under a guy like Tyler just listening and observing. He should then be allowed to call lower league games and have that call reviewed by other people and a different random group of fans after every game to gauge improvement.

      This is how I would get a guy who knows nothing about the game up to speed.

      1. @Wongo1, excellent point about spending time with a referee. When I first became interested in soccer, I knew nothing about the game. I took a night class for referees getting their licenses to learn the game from the inside/out. It increased my knowledge and enjoyment immensely.

        1. My PE teacher in secondary school was a qualified ref in the UK and had done a couple of the old division one games before he busted his knee.

          When he came to our school he took the entire set of teams, under 15, under 17 and junior teams sat us down for 2 months and painstakingly went over the rules with us.

          What this did was improve our play tremendously and as you say Fog, it improved everyone’s enjoyment. It also made us complain so much less at blown calls lmao.

      2. Absolutely…. I don’t have any problem with him learning on the job, but he shouldn’t be learning on the job with the biggest games.

    1. I believe that the headline should read: “FOX raises the bar (tabs)” as soccer fans flock to their local pubs to get away from Gus Johnson.

  15. A couple of the able commenters hit this point, but the thing that jumps out at me is:

    Gus Johnson is going to equal greater ratings? Really!?!?! How do they figure this?

    I know that I myself as a Jacobin for the sport will avoid Gus broadcasts like the plague – find alternatives/mute/stream/whatever. Can’t see where higher ratings are going to be coming from out of my demographic.

    So that leaves the casual/new fan. You’re going to get more of those tuning in with an American who knows f-all about the sport and even less f-all about how to comment on it?

    I would submit that you’d attract more casual fans with a colorfully “English” voice to begin with. I remember when I first was watching EPL games way back when at a friend of mine’s pub and thinking “whoa, cool, English announcers!” Sounds shallow but it added to things for me.

    Plus, a good and competent commentator makes the match more fun to watch. Which grows the audience in and of itself.

    I keep promising myself to stop beating on poor Gus (who for all I know is a nice man). But when suits at Fox make incomprehensible statements (Gus = ratings) it just sucks me back in to this debate.

  16. At least Johnson hasn’t become Ron Atkinson…yet. Some Atkinson quotes:

    “Well, Clive, it’s all about the two M’s – movement and positioning.”

    “Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw.”

    “I would not say he is the best left winger in the Premiership, but there are none better.”

    “On another night, they’d have won 2-2.”

    Soccer Quotes

  17. that Modric goal call was horrendous. i happened to be looking away and for all i knew it was a tap in.

    i want a British announcer tell me it was “wonderful”, “a firecracker”, “stunning” ….

    any of those would accurately describe the goal. the game is being played in europe. I want to hear someone who is native to the land. the accent adds so much to the game. save american announcers for MLS (except arlo white on nbc, and darke, healey, rae on espn)

    oh, and i’m american so no british-bias here

  18. It’s as if Fox does not know who their demographic is and what they want to hear. I want to hear a football player that has fist hand experience in what it’s like to be involved in a game, no matter the magnitude of it, calling the game. A basketball commentator, who has never kicked a ball is not who I want to hear. Get this clown off the air. Not even Americans want to hear him. Now to make matters worse, he’s going to be calling the FA cup game on Sunday between Man U and Chelski with Ian Wright. I will not be surprised if Wrighty decks him in the middle of the game for talking such crap. I hope we don’t get too many EPL games on Fox netxt year since Universal have the rights. Hope they do a better job.

  19. If Fox genuinely thought Football had real revenue potential they would have ponied up the extra money and won the bid, but they didn’t…

    So as far as Im concerned they can keep Gus and Ill just listen to talk sport feed of Champions League.

    NBC se the potential and were willing to pay… the more I think about it the fact that Fox put Rob stone, Warren Barton and Eric Wynalda as the faces of the BPL in america shows that Gus being horrible is just another poor decision in a long line of poor decisions from fox.

    Fox soccer2go (their best product by far) is only around because Setanta collapsed, not because fox had great vision and wanted to create a great experience, it was cheap, is all.

    If that wasn’t the case they would have beat out Setanta on the initial bid.

    Gus is just a continuation of poor decisions and talent selections.

    its not exclusive to Gus either, Keith Costigan called Lopez iker Casillas on the replay of the Man Utd v Madrid Game during his half time highlight commentary…

    Fox Sucksssssssss

    1. I guess the reason I’ve finally thrown my hands up in disgust is because I never watched Fox’s pre-match, halftime, or post-match coverage. I couldn’t stand the amateurish analysis of the in studio guys at Fox Soccer. All of that was fine to me because I could count on the English feed for game commentary.

      Now the amateur hour has carried over to the actual matches.

      That’s it for me. I’ll watch when Gus isn’t commentating. But I’m going back to my online feeds when he is.

      (Sorry to disappoint the Gaffer with my “illegal” activity)

  20. Hasn’t Johnson been a Foc Employee since he moved to the Big Ten Network? and perhaps Fox is using him in the soccer role because they already have him under contract. Yes, Johnson is annoying. and yes the catch phase works in Basketball and not at all in soccer, but if the plan is to ditch soccer why not throw in a basketball guy in the meantime…

  21. Can we just go back to talking about the actual games please? The coverage this topic keeps getting is really bringing down the quailty of the website.

    1. Aaron, EPL Talk has had 62 articles since the last story we published about Gus Johnson.

      The Gaffer

    2. Aaron, I understand your frustration, but the responses to The Gaffer’s postings show how important this is to the majority of football fans. If it weren’t, the subject would die. No one would respond.

      Could anyone listen to John Strong’s commentary on the Spurs’ match today and not wonder why he is not Fox’s American voice?

      Another chapter in my forthcoming book, “Nobody Asked Me, But…..” 😉

      1. I don’t understand why the whiners continue to read and post. There are tons of other threads, as The Gaffer has pointed out. You don’t like the topic, don’t read it.

        I agree with Marc L from whatever thread. I want to stop kicking the dead horse, but Fox keeps resurrecting it and throwing it back in our faces. What is a fan supposed to do? Accept it? I think not.

  22. The only thing that FOX will truly listen to is money/ratings. If fans truly want to express their opinion then a boycott is something that will be needed. I can’t necessarily boycott FOX Soccer, since it is part of my TV package, but I would be all for boycotting any matches that Gus Johnson is commentating on.

    I say, organize a boycott of matches that Gus Johnson calls and have everyone listen to that match on

  23. fox soccer has been using british commentators since 1997. isnt it time for a change, since they are losing the EPL rights to NBC anyway. there’s nothing to lose now.

    the problem here is that soccer is still a niche sport in the USA and will be that way in the forseable future. USMNT is still mediocre and USA doesnt support losers. gus johnson will have to deal with small but vocal longtime soccer fans in the USA.

    1. John, I really don’t think this conversation is about resistance to change. It is about competence.

      While admitting that I prefer a British voice on the British game, I have no problem introducing an American voice into the equation. I even think it would be a good thing.

      However, that voice should be one that I can respect. John Strong’s commentary today during the Spurs’ match made Gus’s sound like the rank amateurism it is. Strong gave us excellent play by play with appropriate anecdotes thrown in. Nicely delivered. Knowledgeable. That’s what I expect. Not bombast in place of substance.

      If they want an American voice, NBC could do much worse than hire Strong away from Fox and use him in some central role in their telecasts, like the Ian Darke slot.

      Are you listening, peacock? 😉

      1. I am not a huge fan of Strong but I will admit that he is light years beyond Johnson and today’s Spurs call was the best I have ever heard from him. You can tell that he is studying his craft and studying the best as he had many Tylerisms in his commentary all be it delivered in an American accent.

        Well done Strong I have now been converted to your side mate.

      2. for many of the longtime fans here, they’re only used to british commenatary. fox/espn should have groomed american commentators back in 1997, maybe somebody like lalas.

  24. Frankly I have never disagreed more with what appears to be the offical position of EPL TALK on a issue then the Gus Johnson debate.

    Why must soccer in America to grow have to be filtered through a English accent to be genuine? It does not. I hardly ever agree with what Fox does but it has taken a necessary step to say we are bringing a top American voice to soccer broadcasting.

    Gus Johnson for his part admits he has things to learn and by all accounts is doing it. He brings an excitement to the game which all to often is missing from most of the drone voices that we hear on the international feeds of matches.

    While certainly EPL Talk should express its learned and experienced opinion to a matter important to the fans it now appears that a line has been crossed from an independent observer to advocate for a particular point of view which has been contrary to one of its long term goals of growing the game in America.

    1. EPLNFL you are missing the point completely. The frustration expressed by most fans here is NOT with an American being appointed the “voice” of footie in the USA, it is the fact that said voice is a goddamn football idiot. Sorry had to get that off my chest, the man knows nothing about the game and has made a hash of the 2 biggest CL games so far this year.

      If you cannot admit and see that then you must be tone deaf. Sorry but bluntness is necessary here.

    2. @Eplnfl – “He brings an excitement to the game which all to often is missing from most of the drone voices that we hear on the international feeds of matches.”

      Have you even listened to any of his broadcasts??? Johnson has been the poster person for “drone.” This is not the football or basketball Gus Johnson. He has toned it down to beyond boring.

      And then when you throw a complete inability to add anything to the broadcast…extremely limitied knowledge of the game (and I may be giving him too much credit), no clue about the flow of the game, no ability to anticipate, absolutely no anecdotal/historical content and an overdose of irrelevant statistical BS.

      Gus Johnson has absolutely no business announcing any soccer game of relevance. PERIOD. Gus Johnson is not the American voice of soccer.

    3. Lou, I’ve mentioned in the article that I’m fine with it being an American announcer if it’s someone with experience and is good enough. I cited a few examples of people that would fit the bill. Gus Johnson was not part of that list. It’s nothing personal against him or Americans or to prevent the game growing in this country.

      The Gaffer

  25. the thing about announcers is, any who have to use schtick to call a game will get old, real fast. A good announcer realizes he is NOT the show. The game is. By “doing your thing” you are trying to overshadow the action on the field, when in reality, you are detracting from the game. Vitale. Johnson. Kevin Harlan. Andres Cantor. All these guys got annoying as hell real, real fast. That’s one thing the British guys get. they NEVER try to overshadow the game. What’s Jon Champion’s signature call? Doesn’t have one. Ian Crocker? Nope. Martin Tyler? none. That’s why those guys sound so good and genuine. And as much as people don’t like Joe Buck, he’s like the English guys. He never overshadows the game. Doesn’t try to have a signature call. he simply narrates the game. That’s what makes a good announcer. Gus Johnson = not a good announcer.

    1. The reason most American announcers rely on stupid gimmicky tag lines and the like is that they lack the vocabulary to beautifully describe what is happening in front of them. It really is that simple.

      1. Wongo…sorry for this…”they lack the vocabulary to beautifully describe what is happening in front of them.”

        You mean like Ray Hudson possesses?

        There are plenty of American announcers with vocabularies to beautifully describe what is happening. Just not in this area of sport. Have you ever listened to Vin Scully? Mike Tirico? Just to name two. They compare to anyone that is being mentioned as a British football announcing icon. Tyler, Champion, Parry, etc.. The American announcers are icons in other sports. The sports they grew up with.

        1. I watch plenty of sports Fog, NBA, Golf, NASCAR, lacrosse, AmericanFootball, I even watched a hockey game2 weeks ago just to try and understand the game. Ivan honestly say that I have yet to hear commentary that had beautifully crafted stories.

          I have never had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Scully so I haven’t comment on him. Tirico is okay but as I stated in my original comment “most” not all but “most” simply do not have the vocabulary.

          1. No worries…I guess that with all of this Johnson business, I’m getting a little sensitive.

            I guess we all have our preferences when it comes to announcers.

        2. Fog, I know what you mean, I Musburger personally so I know that the USA has some quality commentators for sure. This Johnson thing has really struck a chord with all fans pro and con.

    2. Until fox quit insulting its subscribers, we will continue to complain. We pay for their lousy product.
      The bar of success was set so low for gus johnson, the heat in hades has melted the darn thing.

  26. Eh. Gus is what he is.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to watch high profile matches. You’re going to watch high profile matches.

    We’re just going to have to deal with it.

  27. Why couldn’t they move JP Dellacamera over to the Premier League if they wanted an American voice? I may be in the minority here but I had no problem with him when he called a few Champions League games back in 2004 or whatever it was. I much preferred Derek Rae of course but JP wasn’t bad at all. Gus Johnson is just….annoying.

    1. Because that is the way Fox runs their business. Thery prefer to use the grain of sand as their messenger instead of the pearl.

  28. I agree with everything the gaffer has written except that Phil Schoen would be a good alternative. I couldn’t stand Schoen commentating La Liga games on Gol TV. He is very loud and not that knowledgeable. His sidekick often corrected his ignorance.

    Until Fox can find an able American commentator they ought to go back to the foreign feed commentary. Knowledge and experience cannot be obtained overnight.

    1. Explain why? Just don’t throw that comment out there and don’t back it up.

      Johnson is a lower quality product… But you want that?

      American voices will NOT make soccer mainstream… Getting it off niche hard to find cable packages will. This is why NBC has the potential game changer here… If they deliver a quality product then we could see soccer become more mainstream.


      1. NBC will not make soccer or MLS more popular in the states. Even beck-hamm couldnt do it. NBC overpaid for the product.

        who wants to bet that after brazil 2014, it’ll continue to be a niche sport in the USA?

        1. The MKS is almost unwatchable in terms of soccer. That’s why Beckham couldn’t make it popular in the states.

          Would you rather watch the NBDL or the NBA? Would you rather watch the Pawtucket Red Sox play the Staten Island Yankees or the Boston Red Sox play the New York Yankees?

          The EPL and other European Leagues are just a better product. If people get a chance to see the sport played at its highest level and see the kind of support the clubs get, it will slowly catch on. It may even trump hockey in terms of American viewers.

          1. if they see EPL, they’ll ignore it.

            1) soccer is not an american sport. america doesnt have a soccer culture. EPL is unamerican.
            2) USMNT = MLS = losers.

          2. That’s right. Soccer is a global sport. And the EPL has fans all over the world (especially Asia). And since the US is multicultural and continues to grow in numbers, the sport will continue to attract new fans.

          3. John Marzan are you seriously such an ass or are you just trying to be provocative?

            Soccer is not an “American” sport? Please check your facts, if you do you will finds that an overwhelming number of children who actually engage in physical activity in this country play soccer. In fact the last set of numbers I read indicate that up until 10 soccer is the #2 sport.

            Kids only turn away from footies in my opinion because after 10 games that can make them big money are emphasized over footie.

          1. i bet you 10K NBC has a turkey in their hands (not because EPL is inferior, but they miscalculated and overpaid).

          2. I’ll double your bet.. Look how the ratings improved on big Fox… With a regular national time slot this audience will do nothing more grow.. There is no turkey here.. The only question will NBC deliver a quality broadcast.. If the pull a Gus Johnson stunt and deliver sub par quality… Then yes it will fail. All indications are to he contrary though.


          3. John what are the baseline numbers? What are we deeming success? And lastly I prefer you deposit the 10K to my Paypal account, thanks!!

  29. Just as an aside, here’s how Martin Tyler called the Modric goal against United:

    “Modric. Has a decent shot on him, and it’s a scoring shot. Luka Modric returns to England and scores for Real Madrid at Old Trafford”

    Not his best call, but at least he speaks in complete sentences!

    The Gaffer

      1. Not at all. It’s just that I aready have to deal with the Fox management who gave me this asinine assignment in the first place. I don’t need any more grief. Besides, all this negative talk is upsetting my mother.

  30. Busy preparing for Sunday’s game by watching the Algarve Cup from Portugal. These games are more my speed. Plus, the players are much better looking. (I think that I need to talk to management to see how I can get some of those assignments.)

    Anyway, I think these games will help me immensely in my preparation. By the way, is it game or match? I keep getting confused about this.

    1. I am really hoping that Sunday is a “game” because if it is a “match” then I have to study with a whole different set of Cliff Notes and cassette tapes.

  31. I thought I was the only one who believes that having this guy, Gus Johnson calling the big games is a disaster. I certainly don’t have anything against the guy but I really like to be informed and entertained when I watched my games. This guy is certainly not ready for big games and I think from a fan perspective this is a tremendous step down from what we’re accustomed to and having to pay for this makes it even worst.

  32. You guys just don’t know when to let up, do you?

    Just wait until you hear me tomorrow! I’ll show you!!

    1. As my 5 year old son asked as we were watching the ManU / Chelsea match, “why is that man yelling?” – –
      STOP YELLING!! And please stop this “in the 6” nonsense. And there is no ‘e’ at the end of the premier league (think prem-er), and really, I just have to mute the matches now because of you and that is a shame.

  33. I am watching the Man U-Chelsea FA Cup match on Fox Soccer Channel. The commentators are horrible–the worst I have ever heard. The one guy (Gus Johnson?) just yells out the name of whoever touches the ball and screams the name when someone takes a shot. Please, get someone with a modicum of knowledge about the game and personalities involved. This guy is annoying and obviously knows nothing about the game. Hell, he does not even get the names right. I have resorted to muting the sound. This is the same guy who has ruined the Champions League broadcasts.

    We soccer fans deserve better!

  34. Gus Johnson is the worst announcer ever, his voice is grating, he has no knowledge of the game and he yells at the viewers, too loud, with no class or style. Its classic Fox, please get rid of him, it makes Fox Soccer a joke to the world. If you want a US announcer I m sure there are plenty of options, even Mcbride would be better and he is also pretty damn bad. Common Fox. If this continues I will cancel my subscription, and hopefully inspire many more. There is not ONE positive comment to his announcing.

    1. Please get rid of Gus Johnson, cancel, post a comment, anything to get rid of him. We pay alot for Fox Soccer and we deserve better. Amazing how many negative comments.

  35. Will someone please create a petition to stop Gus Johnson from trying to do soccer commentary! Get rid of Eric Wynalda as well.

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