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Dave O’Brien Says He’s Envious Of What FOX is Doing For Gus Johnson

dave o brien gus johnson Dave OBrien Says Hes Envious Of What FOX is Doing For Gus Johnson

Dave O’Brien, ESPN’s lead soccer commentator for World Cup 2006, says that the USA games in the 2014 World Cup should have been announced by an American voice, and that he’s envious of what FOX Sports is doing with Gus Johnson.

O’Brien, who was a trainwreck when he announced World Cup games in 2006, had this to say to The Berkshire Eagle newspaper this weekend:

“I think [FOX having Gus Johnson commentate in preparation for the World Cup] is a smart way to go. I think what they’re doing is a very smart move. I would have loved that. I’m envious of what they’re doing and what they’re doing for Gus.

“He has to be immersed in it. He has to be calling matches. He has to call big matches.”

In regards to having an American announcer,

“I sat there the other day and watched Tim Howard put on an incredible display of goalkeeping against Belgium and the name that kept popping into my head was [1980 Olympic goalie] Jim Craig. I never heard his name referenced on the broadcast.

“I think Ian Darke does an incredible job. He’s a great game caller, but he’s not from the United States. We do need an American perspective as our team gets better, as the national team gets better and advances. I would love to see, be it Gus or someone, take it and run with it.”

While O’Brien’s recommendation that an American voice commentate USA games is worthy, an American announcer shouldn’t announce a USA game just because he’s American. The selection should go to the most qualified person, not just an American voice. While Gus Johnson and Dave O’Brien have American voices, neither is qualified to be soccer announcers. There are far more alternatives out there of announcers who are American and are qualified than Johnson and O’Brien.

This entry was posted in ESPN, FOX Soccer, World Cup, World Cup 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

35 Responses to Dave O’Brien Says He’s Envious Of What FOX is Doing For Gus Johnson

  1. Eric Thornley says:

    WOW….really? Jim Craig? Dave O’Brien just doesn’t know when to quit. Gus Johnson is going to be an embarrassment.

    • francis says:

      And therein lies the problem with unqualified announcers. A Jim Craig reference is fine if you’re calling a hockey game. A more appropriate reference would have been to Keller or Freidel’s memorable games in a US uniform

      • Eric Thornley says:

        Yeah, Dave O’Brien seems totally oblivious, maybe he actually hates soccer?

        • john says:

          WOW Jim Craig im sure all the fans under 40 would get that reference.

          • john says:

            way to understand your audience. Can’t wait to hear gus johnson mixed his forced english references during the next wolrd cup. What’s the over/under on how many times he’s calls the field the pitch.

  2. Smokey Bacon says:

    If Fox had any sense, they would sign up Jon Champion right now. But they don’t so it will be the screaming clueless idiot unless shanks is fired.

  3. Brianb says:

    Hear Hear Christopher, and by the way ESPN coverage was excellent!God help us in 2018.

  4. Alex Riley says:

    Dave O’Brien was on the same low level as
    Gus. He knew nothing about the game and did not know how to do soccer commentary. Thank God he’s gone. Now please someone fire Gus.

  5. goatslookshifty says:

    Yeah, foreign accents from people who live the game is worse than an American one who has no idea about soccer…that make a lot of sense.

    • Balaji says:

      I agree. Well said. It is not the accent, but the knowledge of the game which americans are lacking. All they can say is hustle, palyed with their hearts out haha

  6. Matt says:

    Canceled my Fox Soccer 2 Go a while back and looking forward to pirate feeds of every Gus Johnson match.

  7. Jim Barg says:

    I’m not surprised at all by O’Brien’s comments – he was essentially set up to fail by ESPN. Expecting anyone to be top-notch after a crash course of a few months was the height of arrogance by the network.

    It should have proven to anyone in American broadcasting that experienced announcers just don’t translate quickly to other sports they’re unfamiliar with.

    So to see Fox attempt essentially the same thing again with Gus Johnson (whose cadence is better suited to basketball/football and is terrific at it, IMO) is kind of insulting, to be honest. It shows a lack of respect, but then again, when has Fox Sports treated their properties with respect?

    Perhaps when Gus/Wynalda gets torched like O’Brien/Balboa did in the media, Fox will seek out those quality American voices that deserve a shot at the big time.

    Or more than likely, we’ll be told some variant of ‘the soccer fan is too demanding’ and ‘these broadcasts aren’t for you’.

  8. El Payaso says:

    Will any other station be showing the World Cup besides FOX?

  9. CTBlues says:

    I will be watching the Gus matches in Spanish come 2018.

  10. Emmett says:

    JP Dellacamera or John Strong would be perfectly fine. They actually understand the game of soccer unlike Gus or Obrien. They at least know when not to scream “GOAL” if a guy is 5 yards offside.

    • Flyvanescence says:

      Dellacamera is brutal. I would rather hear Gus Johnson than him. Hes so boring he should be a baseball announcer. But he would probably not pronounce those players names right either.

  11. NashRambler says:

    A Jim Craig reference would have been appropriate but Ian Darke and all of the announcers ESPN used were able to reference prior World Cup moments and prior club soccer moments in their commentary which Dave O’Brien and Gus Johnson will never be able to bring to their commentary because they haven’t been living and breathing soccer all their lives the way the commentators we’ve heard during this World Cup have.

    I’m happy to sacrifice an American commentator who can reference great non-soccer moments in America’s sporting history but are out of their depth calling soccer games in exchange for commentators who know soccer and its history inside and out and who have played and followed the game all of their lives.

  12. Harry Nibbler says:

    The lack of American voices during the World Cup final was refreshing. Let the pros handle it.

    It was impressive to hear Ian Darke say, “If you’ve liked watching the World Cup, you’ll love the MLS” while not laughing. He’s a true professional.

  13. Mark Williamson says:

    Oh brother, this is just what Fox needs to hear. I have 3 friends that watched the final World Cup game with me and I talked to one over the phone. They all gave nothing but kudos to Darke and Macca for their fantastic call of the game. Total of 4 new fans that made comment on the game itself as well as the commentary. Pretty neat stuff.

  14. Mute Button says:

    Having discovered the joy of watching with the mute button pressed (and closed-captioning turned on), I no longer care which announcer is calling the game.

    There are two reasons why the Canadians, the Singaporeans, the Jamaicans, etc. all route the generic FIFA international feeds with a single commentator straight through to the viewers:

    1. To save money (obviously)
    2. Announcers have little impact (i.e. less than 3%) on viewership based on available data. Most viewers simply don’t care.

  15. Mute Button says:

    If the VPs at FOX is reading this:

    Experiment during select games i.e. USA knockout round matches, especially a rivalry game such as USA vs Canada, of the 2015 Women’s World Cup:

    FOX Sports 1: regular English commentary using FOX announcers i.e. Gus

    FOX Sports 2: natural sound ONLY with OPEN captioning either in the ticker or on one row above the ticker

    Frankly, no one will be watching a UFC re-run on FOX Sports 2 when the USWNT will be playing, so there will be little or no impact on advertising revenue (we are talking about $50 per ad on FS2, if that, because less than 10K viewers on average are watching FS2 at any given time) by running the match on both FS1 and FS2.

  16. Daniel says:

    Preach it!

  17. Rick says:

    I hope Fox follows ESPN’s example of showing an Encore Show which showed highlights of all games in detail. Learn from ESPN and hire great announcers and hosts and people will not complain. Otherwise I will be watching on the Mexican channel. Look how NBC has improved the coverage of the EPL.

  18. Gringo says:

    ESPN gets it. NBC gets it. FOX fails.

  19. Balaji says:

    ESPN coverage was excellent this world cup, The commentators were awesome and they know what they are talking about and don’t just go on talking about guts and hustle etc etc. David please stop talking trash. Football is way better with Ian and steve talking about the game than your lousy talk

  20. JonBremen says:

    My hope is that the investigations into the Quatar 2022 bid and other FIFA issues leads to the 2022 WC being moved from Quatar and forces a rebidding of the media rights for the 2015 – 2022 cycle.

    It’s a longshot, but if there has to be a new rights auction, perhaps ESPN or NBC could end up with the English language rights and we could be spared the travesty of FOX.

    • Eric Thornley says:

      Don’t think they would put media rights up for a re-bid…anyone know for sure? It’s certainly a possibility if the report is damning.

  21. Cantona says:

    The time difference for the next World Cup will be so different from Brasil that they SHOULD be catering to the hardcore fans. You won’t see too many casual fans getting up in the wee hours to watch Algeria v Ukraine.

    If Fox doesn’t up their game that will get killed in social media, the ratings and in advertising. That said Eric Shanks is at the point of no return with his decision, all I see is Fox doubling down with their strategy.

    Cantona—

  22. Brian says:

    I agree that anyone would be envious of what Fox is doing FOR Gus Johnson. It’s too bad they’re not doing anything for soccer fans.

  23. gary fatnich says:

    Gus Johonson like Doc Emerick need to let the action speak for themself and let the game itslef play it self out not yelling and giving useless bits of trivia etc

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