It’s no secret that we’ve been critical of FOX Sports’ poor soccer coverage during the past two years where they’ve committed a catalog of mistakes and thumbed its noses at its core soccer audience. Thankfully, FOX Sports is beginning to see the light based on a few improvements they’ve made during the past week. FOX isn’t in the clear yet, but they are taking the baby steps necessary to help regain the faith of some soccer fans.
For the week of October 1-6, here are the highs and lows of the soccer viewing experience in the United States:
1. FOX Sports is getting serious about its soccer coverage
With Gus Johnson deciding to quit his role as the lead soccer commentator at FOX Sports, the network’s soccer coverage automatically improved overnight. But with Gus gone, the network quietly secured the talent last week of Ross Dyer as one of its newest commentators, where he’ll be working for FOX and ESPN this season.
For viewers who have watched beIN SPORTS, Dyer will be a familiar voice. The Everton supporter often commentated Championship Playoff Finals as well as other Anglo-centic games for the Miami-based network. But his talents at beIN SPORTS were underutilized.
After commentating several games for ESPN Radio during World Cup 2014, Dyer made his debut on FOX Sports last week as the presenter of the MultiMatch 90 programming in addition to commentating one of the Europa League games alongside Brian McBride.
While it’s still early days for Dyer at FOX, he’s already made an immediate impact given the enthusiasm and knowledge of the game, as well as his ability to know how to announce a game, which comes naturally for the much-traveled Englishman.
Another example of Dyer’s positive impact that he’s had on FOX Sports in just a week is the way that he and McBride commentated the Europa League games. The much-improved McBride had a new lease of life alongside Dyer, and sounded far more confident, comfortable and enthusiastic than he normally does.
Meanwhile, based on FOX’s UEFA Champions League coverage last week, the quartet of Rob Stone, Warren Barton, Eric Wynalda and McBride are making more of a conscious effort to improve their coverage. They’re not “phoning it in” as they’ve done in the past 1-2 years. You can tell that they’re doing more research of the different teams and players ahead of time. And while not close to perfect, they are showing a slight improvement.