Archive for the ‘Broadcasting’ Category

Profile: American Soccer by Jeff Carlisle…

….as told to guest writer Brian Mechanick.

Carlisle: Leader For The New School

The leaders of U.S. soccer journalism are clear: Grant Wahl, Ives Galracep, and Steve Goff. But with ESPN ramping up its soccer coverage to unprecedented levels, one writer in its empire has emerged as one of the leading new voices covering all of American soccer: Jeff Carlisle. No other writer at “The Worldwide Leader” brings the mix of thoughtful analysis and sheer American soccer know-how that Carlisle does.

Carlisle has produced some of ESPN’s best written content lately, highlighted by his recent article exploring the failure of the USMNT from 1950 to 1990. Jeff began his soccer journalism career in 2002 with QuakeMagic.com, where he covered the San Jose Earthquakes and San Jose CyberRays of the short-lived WUSA. He has written for ESPN.com since 2005, covering MLS as well as the U.S. men’s national team.

Jeff and I had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation this past Wednesday. We discussed his career, the future of ESPN’s soccer coverage, and what to expect at World Cup 2010 for the Yanks right before left on his one of the bigger assignment of his career, an excursion to South Africa.

Q: When you were writing about the San Jose Cyber Rays for Quakemagic.com did you think that in eight years you were going to be writing for ESPN and going to South Africa to cover the World Cup?

It was always a goal, but you never know how things are going to work out. You have those dreams but you just try to take it step by step. I’ve been very fortunate, a lot of times I was just in the right place at the right time. It certainly worked well though.

ESPN head honcho John Skipper

Q:  There has been a blowout of the coverage to promote the World Cup at ESPN, do you see the network carrying this momentum through and promoting soccer after the World Cup or is it more of a one-off promotion akin to the Olympics?

I don’t think it’s a one-off. When you look at the other properties that ESPN purchased on the broadcast side, they are still broadcasting MLS games, they have the rights for the next World Cup and they showed the European Championships two years ago.

I see them continuing to make a huge commitment to soccer. It’s a growing sport, but it’s fragmented with MLS fans, EPL fans, national team fans, and those don’t necessarily all overlap. The [executives] are long-term thinkers, and they’re not only trying to make money today, but also make money down the road, so I don’t see this as a one-off.

Changes afoot at Soccernet

Q: The ESPN Soccernet website you write for, specifically on the U.S. front, has undergone a lot of changes in the last six months. Where do you see the website going forward and what do you see as your role with the site?

A lot of things were done specifically for the World Cup and I think that is why the U.S. page made such a transformation, but it is very World Cup-centric. I don’t make the decisions, but I do see it going back to what it was….a catchall U.S. page, whether it was the national team (men and women), MLS, WPS, college, and all that stuff. After the World Cup, when some of the stuff dies down, I think things are going to back to the way they were.

As far as my role, I’ve got a contract with them for the next year, so I don’t see my role changing after the World Cup. The people I talk to–they are pretty excited about soccer–and they just hired a new soccer-specific editor.

I think that speaks to the number of stories they see soccer producing.

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So What Are They Thinking In England?

TSG had the occasion a little more than a week ago to speak with a fellow reporter across the pond, ESPN’s Rebecca Lowe.

ESPN UK's Rebecca Lowe

Lowe is formerly of both Setanta Sport and the BBC, but now co-hosts ESPN’s Premiere League show. She’s an ardent Crystal Palace supporter and childhood acquaintance of Peter Crouch, who she says was known more for carrying a tennis racket around before playing soccer…or making ladies swoon.

Here’s an excerpt of what we spoke about.

TSG: If you ask American fans and they look at the England team, they see a little bit of infighting, challenges at goalie position per usual, and questions in the holding midfielder role.

What’s your take?

Rebecca Lowe: I think the interesting questions for England are in the midfield. We’ve got the Gareth Barry issue who some would say that his name is the second one on the team sheet after Wayne Rooney. He’s an unsung hero, you just don’t notice him…..possibly that means…some people say that makes a great player, especially in midfield.

He works hard and does the hard work. And he’s very very good at it.

However with the injury, his exact place on the team is still up in the air.

I think Fabio Capello desperately will try and get Gareth Barry playing in the World Cup.

As for the team, I think the general feeling amongst the team is good.

I’m a little worried that it’s been such a good build up.

I think sometimes with World Cups…sometimes a couple of defeats in the warm-up games or a couple of difficult things going on in camp can sometimes pull the squad together.

And although we had the John Terry saga, that’s kind of blown over and I thought it would.

And now everything seems to be fairly peaceful. I just wonder whether that’s a good thing.

Sometimes some infighting and some scandal; a seige mentality, perhaps,  is good to pull a team together.

I don’t want them to travel to Africa thinking it’s a breeze.

Unsung or vulnerable?

TSG: That’s truly spoken like the English media!

I’m going to follow up on Gareth Barry for a second. There is no question he’s a good player, but there are some questions about whether he can play the cover defense that’s needed in the holding midfielder role and then help link the offense.

If you ask me, that’s a place where the States can attack the Lions the most. Thoughts?

RL: Well, that’s really interesting. So interesting to hear another point of view on the England team from outside. I don’t get to hear from other football writers in other countries all too often.

I would agree with you.

I think Gareth Barry is a top class player but he hasn’t had a ton of international experience.

Even if he does play, I don’t think you’re wrong. I wouldn’t say he’s world class.

I think he’s a good solid player, but I take the point, but that’s not greatest area of strength for England.

Michael Carrick’s a patchy player and I don’t have a lot of confidence in him and that’s who else we have.

I take on board what you’re thinking about Barry and I concede it. I wish we had Owen Hargreaves of course.

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The Finale: Requiem For A Cycle

And here it is, the finale in the phenomenal series, Requiem For A Cycle:

Fans Submit A Few Of Their Favorite Goal Calls

….and you guys thought I forgot about this one.

A few weeks ago we asked the community to submit some of their favorite goal calls, an ode to Ray Hudson if you will.

Here you go. If you want to add one in the commentary, just put the url in the commentary and the YouTube video should show up.

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Tuesday Humor: “The Sports Guy” Speaks Soccer

Simmons: What are the odds that this is Messi’s breakout. Almost like Maradonna, Maradona,  in 86. Pele somewhere in the 60′s I can’t remember what Cup. (No kidding…you’re the same guy that didn’t know if Donovan won anything in MLS.)

Michael Davies: Messi is the best player in the world today.

Simmons <emphatically>: Hands down.

Davies: Hands down. You wouldn’t find many people who follow soccer, who can be objective ab0ut it and would argue with anybody about that…(TSG: I don’t know, I think Maicon’s pretty good.)

Simmons: There is a little bit of..there is a magicalness to him. I guess I should say…a magic…to him.

Davies: I’m going to use that. Do you mind if I use that through the World cup to describe Lionel Messi. (Great! Now I’m going to hear that word for a month)

Simmons: There is a magic to him that I have not seen since the mid-80′s (What?!)

Davies: He’s a player that seems to pull it out in big games. That is something that every American sports fan can relate to.

Put him on worldwide television in the Champion’s League, quarter or semi final. Put him in a huge Argentina game and he seems to figure a way to play really well. (I don’t need to write anything here do I.)

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I’m not linking to the podcast. At least he got the Maradona year correct.

TSG Thanks Those That Fought In The Name Of

A good day and Decoration Day to everyone.

A big thank you to all those who have passed in the line of duty….and those who have served or are serving home and abroad.

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