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

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.

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