In the dying minutes of Argentina’s match with Nigeria, a cross into the box met the foot of a most unlikely hero, Marcos Rojo. The ball went flying into the back of the net, giving the Argentine’s a crucial 2-1 lead that would end up securing their spot in the Round of 16.
On the FOX Sports feed of the broadcast, JP Dellacamera was on the call, and as soon as the shot went in and he made note of the goal, he stayed silent for at least 20 seconds — simply letting the emotion and pageantry of it all tell the story of what was happening.
Toni Kroos’ winner for Germany against Sweden had nearly 30 seconds of silence in between John Strong’s initial call of the goal and Stu Holden’s reaction to it, which also gave us one of the best commentary moments of the tournament so far. On television, these periods of silence make sense, and actually gives FOX Sports a bright spot to look at despite all of the criticism they’ve received since the World Cup began.
On the radio, it’s a completely different story
TuneIn Radio & SiriusXM have live commentary of all the World Cup matches in the United States, but they simply rebroadcast the audio from the FOX Sports TV feed.
I turned on the Argentina-Nigeria match shortly before the final goal was scored, so I missed the buildup and only heard Dellacamera’s call without knowing who had scored. So for 30 seconds, in a moment that should have been filled with intense emotions, I was oblivious to what had actually happened. By the time I found out that Argentina had went ahead, my reaction was short-lived. None of this is JP’s fault, of course. But it points out yet another glaring issue when it comes to access to soccer in America: there’s not enough radio coverage.
ESPN really went above and beyond with their World Cup coverage in 2014, providing ESPN Radio commentary that was actually designed specifically for that medium. Why FOX Sports, or even another provider, couldn’t do the same in 2018 is baffling.
This is something that can even be done on monitors from the same crew, and you’d only need another duo when there are two matches going on at once.
But it’s not just a World Cup issue either. For the longest time, SiriusXM was the only place to get soccer commentary on the go. For the Premier League, you’d get some matches being played on their FC channel using a feed from Talksport, which normally only available to listeners in the UK.
Around 2013/2014, Talksport Live was introduced which was dedicated to fans outside of the UK, so anyone in America could listen to English-language coverage of the EPL — a feature that later became offered on TuneIn’s premium service. The commentary on Talksport Live was excellent, mainly because it wasn’t reliant on actually having to see what was going on to get the full perspective.
Finding commentary for the Champions League is a little more difficult especially if it’s an EPL team you’re looking for, as you can only find matches on TuneIn (usually on the BBC Radio 5 Live channel) if they are in the away legs, due to rights restrictions. Otherwise, you will have to hope that Sirius is carrying the broadcast, and even then it’s usually just going to be a version of the FOX Sports feed, mediocre as it is. With the license moving to Turner this upcoming season, this may change, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Most MLS clubs have their radio commentary teams broadcast on local stations. Depending on what they are, you can typically count on finding them. US national team games are not, however, unless Sirius decides to broadcast one of the television feeds on their FC channel.
Otherwise, you’re going to be out of luck. I remember when I had to track down a Ustream audio feed of Ian Darke & Taylor Twellman calling USA v. Italy back in 2012. All it would take is a team or two at some monitors to give us halfway decent radio commentary so we’re not stuck with television feeds. With so many people on the go and doing things off their phone, someone is missing out on providing an app or platform where radio commentary of soccer can be made easy.