Mr. Shin Guardian Goes to Bristol

Watch out, Johnny Boy Harkes: Here we come.

That’s right TSG; we’re taking our show on the road!

And we need your help.

Power to the People!

The Shin Guardian is attending Media Day for the World Cup, December 4th at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

The Shin Guardian 007 is on the move....

Making the journey westward will be my brother Mark as yours truly will be on a brief sabbatical in New Zealand as I mentioned the other day. (Actually I’m in the plane right now but magically posting this through the power of the world wide webosphere.)

For Mark’s little sojourn, we need your help. Wait, that’s incorrect.

We want to travel with your questions. The questions of our readers. The comments of our readers.

Sitting around Mark in the studio as the fateful draw for the USMNT–or some might call it the Bafana Bafana lottery….please let the US be a 2-seed with the Bafana, please the let the US be a 2-seed with the Bafana… whammy, no whammy….stop–will be none other than ESPN analysts Alexi Lalas, John Harkes and one Mr. Tommy Smyth.

We are TSG. We represent you, the fans of the USMNT, the fans of American soccer. We take that responsibility seriously.

So we will play gopher and scribe here.

Send us your comments and questions to take with us: either for a specific commentator, on ESPN coverage, or on World Cup 2010.

As we’ve come to expect from the community here, be heady and well-written in your commentary, but don’t make it personal. Also try to be curt, as we are going to want to pepper folks with as many questions as possible.

While TSG can’t promise anything in return; we promise we’ll try to get your questions and comments heard and commentary returned.

20 responses to this post.

  1. Wow! Fantastic opportunity guys. I’ll start brainstorming a few up for you all. Can’t wait to hear all about.


  2. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/11/20 at 8:32 AM

    I am mostly interested in the vision ESPN has for soccer in the US. Currently, soccer receives almost no promotion. MLS (and other international leagues, as well as international matches) highlights are nowhere to be found on Sportscenter except maybe if there was an outstanding goal or something. Because of this, the “soccer literacy” of the American consumer is, on average, quite low. How does ESPN expect to draw a large audience for the World Cup when the casual soccer fan (or casual sports fan) hears almost nothing about the top international squads? I’d imagine that most of these casual fans might pay attention to the US matches, but if they are really going to have every match on TV like they say, they are going to want casual viewers for non-US games as well.

    Basically, I just want to know what their overall game plan is for increasing the profile of soccer in the US. Is there some long term vision in place, because it seems as if soccer is the last thing on ESPN’s plate and they just fit it in where possible (see: next to no promotion for upcoming fixtures, no Sportscenter highlights, inconsistent La Liga/MLS scheduling, etc.). We all understand that soccer isn’t as big of a draw as college football, pro football, NASCAR, or probably even things like poker, but if ESPN is willing to try and build up soccer in the US, how are they going to go about doing it?



    • Posted by Timmy on 2009/11/20 at 9:23 AM

      Agreed. Even on SportsCenter, since making the switch to the live version, we no longer see any national or international futbol coverage/news as they dismissed the ESPN Deportes Update. A shame since it was always nice to see Adriana Monsalve on TV.


  3. Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/20 at 8:35 AM

    Matthew and I are excited for the opportunity and I am looking forward to repping for you guys.

    By the way, I know it looks like I am pulling up my pants in the picture above (which I am not), but in deference to Matthew writing the post, I am not going to pull the picture.


  4. Posted by Swa on 2009/11/20 at 9:26 AM

    I would love to know what happened with the Champions League. Were they not willing to pony up the cash that FSC was? FSC is a fantastic network and all but the lack of HD in this day and age is a killer, as well as the fact that it is a single network, whereas ESPN could show two matches at once and offer all matches online FOR FREE. That’s one thing I’m certainly going to miss when the knockout stages start and I’m sitting in a late afternoon class next semester.

    It really seems like ESPN has been on a drive to increase soccer coverage in the US, and the prevalence of lower quality matches can easily be explained by the network not wanting to preempt College Gameday and Sunday Countdown, leaving them with only the earliest time slots to work with. The question I would like to see posed then is, What is the plan for when the American football seasons end? Are they willing to televise matches later in the day which will allow for more options and better quality? What’s their hierarchy when they have multiple matches to choose from? The Man Us and Liverpools have to rank highest in recognition over here, but where do teams with US stars like Everton and Fulham fit in? Personally, although you’d like the highest quality, most beautiful footy to be broadcast in hopes of drawing in those who are interested enough to watch for a few minutes (not to say that Everton and Fulham aren’t also of the highest quality but they’ve both had rough campaigns so far), being able to watch Fulham and recognize that one guy who scored for us last WC (presumably the last time they watched a match) could possibly be a bigger boon to interest in the States because it really shows to the casual observer that soccer happens all year, every year rather than for a couple of months every 4.

    The most difficult thing for me to grasp when I stepped up my fandom to include serious scrutiny of domestic leagues a few years ago was that there was so much more to the soccer universe than the World Cup, Gold Cup, Champions League and Euro. I knew that there were clubs and domestic leagues and I frequently played out campaigns on FIFA 02 and 04 with Barca after I fell in love with Patrick Kluivert during France 98 (still have his jersey), but I still couldn’t reconcile just how many outstanding players there were in the world that I didn’t know about because they were either just on the cusp of making their national squad or from a country that never made noise internationally. I always considered myself a huge fan of the sport, but I was so far behind where I should have been, and if ESPN can help a few people who aren’t as passionate as I was make that leap even before they decide to invest themselves in the sport, then the world will be a better place.

    I have faith in you Mark, don’t let them off the hook.


  5. Posted by Andy on 2009/11/20 at 9:43 AM

    I would love to “suggest” to them that their analysis goes a little bit deeper than “we need to see some effort out there tonight” or “we just didn’t see a good effort out there tonight.”

    I’ve seen exactly 1 good piece of tactical analysis, when Alexi Lalas showed what Jon Spector saw when he crossed one into Dempsey for our 3rd goal against Egypt. Dempsey was making a run in the gap between the two CD’s, and his cross hit that gap perfectly. That’s it.

    I know they’re probably trying to keep things simple for the casual fan, but analysis of strategy and in-game tactics is what makes the game more interesting to the casual fan and allows them to go from casual to knowledgeable. It could go a long way to countering the repetitive line of a non-soccer fan of “they just kick the ball around.”

    Here’s hoping you can prod them ever to gently into providing a little more depth to their coverage. Good luck!


  6. If there’s one thing that sports fans in this country love, it’s highlight packages and analysis combined into a single show. What’s the harm in putting together a 30 and 60 minute program that shows just the beautiful plays from around the world with a little analysis (as stated above, deeper analysis) as to why they’re beautiful. Run the 30 minute version on ESPN 2 somewhere near prime-time, and the 60 minute version goes into much more detail about the better leagues around the globe.

    Why hasn’t ESPN jumped on this format yet? It would give some credibility to the sport for all of the haters out there, plus give junkies a reason to show some love to ESPN.


    • Posted by Berg on 2009/11/20 at 12:03 PM

      If it’s so easy, you look at this list and find a place to put a soccer show. What would America do without 5 NFL based shows? Where would we be without just as many shows about college football? And do you want to tell the guys out there at “NASCAR now” that their airtime has been cut to put together one highlight show about a sport that billions watch and play, breathing it in and out as if it were the very essence of life and all that sustains them? You just leave that sort of poor logic to the fellas at “Around the Horn” (airing twice a day) alright?

      College GameDay
      College Football Final
      College Football Live
      College Football Scoreboard
      College GameNight
      NASCAR Countdown
      NASCAR Now
      NBA Coast to Coast
      NBA Countdown
      NBA Fastbreak
      NBA Shootaround
      Monday Night Countdown
      NFL Live
      NFL Matchup
      NFL Primetime
      Sunday NFL Countdown


    • Not so much a question, but could you tell them I send my sincerest thanks for that day when they covered the Jump Roping competition instead of the Arsenal vs. Milan in the Chmapion’s League Semis. If it was for that I would never have been inducted into your glorious Hall of Fame.


  7. Posted by ChrisR on 2009/11/20 at 12:23 PM

    Here is my question (and my dream scenario for US Soccer), preferably to Sunil if he is there. If not to someone with a brain.

    Russia was just surprisingly bounced from SA2010 leaving a gem of a head coach without anything to do next summer. Is any chance that Guus Hiddink would be interested in the job (head coach) or an advisory role with the USMNT? Follow up please. Is there any chance that Sunil and Co. would ever consider a move so bold?

    and by the way – congrats brothers T. this is massive props to the community you have created and the keyboards that you have worn out crushing stories over the last six months. Cheers to you.


  8. Posted by kaya on 2009/11/21 at 12:31 PM

    Well, at least we have the draw to look forward to. With all the qualifiers over, I’m reminded of the letdown I’d feel in June when in the days when I was an NBA fan. (Stuck with a whole summer of nothin but baseball for sports. apologies to the baseball fans…)
    I know there are the league games, but I think the international competitions will always be my true love =)
    As to the post above re: Hiddink… I was wondering why I hadn’t yet read anything here. It’s of course not going to happen. I’m still waiting for a book to come out about the Klinsman thing a la “Beckham Experiment”. I mean, what *really* happened?? I’d heard something about money, but that would kind of surprise me if USSF were really serious. The FSC opinion piece I read about making Hiddink coach proffered the idea that Hiddink wouldn’t take the position for the same reason Klinsman wouldn’t, and that it’s because of lack of control. First, I think it’s ridiculous to think it’s a good idea to go and rebuild like Hiddink would purportedly want to with 7 months before the WC. Second, does USSF really think they’re all that enough to be so insular? What exactly made Gulati qualified to run the USSF? At one point I read a wikipdea article about him and don’t remember reading about anything that made him qualified to lead US Soccer. I know India is a soccer power house nation and that it undoubtedly rubbed off on him, but I just don’t get it.


  9. I agree with Nick (surprise, surprise) about a highlights show. I know that there was a MLS show early on in the league’s history, but why not package all of ESPN’s soccer holdings into a show. They do have one for Champion’s League, but why not combo…. int’l EPL, MLS, etc into a SoccerCenter show. It would use all of the other soccer in the world as a great package with MLS (although still Amer-centric to keep in line with USA USA!) . Then people can see that alongside the world’s game we’ve got some things to show off.

    You can even have Harksie host it. I’d volunteer to do that alongside him. Tell that to ESPN.

    But in all seriousness if they have Nascar Now and Bassfishing whatever they can have a soccer specific show. Weekly, bi weekly. just do it!


  10. Posted by Kevin on 2009/11/21 at 9:22 PM

    Ask if one or two of you can work as an analyist or commentator or get “The Shin Guardian Show” I want to see you actually sit down and challenge Harkes for his job. Not because he does a bad job, but because if you challenge him he will step up his analysis and comments during a game. I’m impressed at the way Lalas stepped up his analysis, so ask if he can do game commentary. Then when they have some laughs, ask why ESPN is “The worldwide leader in sports” if they don’t show the world’s game. I’ve been wanting to know for a while, but there’s no way to pass yourself off as the worldwide leader in sports if you don’t care about the world’s most popular sport?


    • Posted by Kevin on 2009/11/22 at 1:08 PM

      that’s me


    • But they care about the jump roping…oooh, and the Scrabble Championships…and college cheerleading competitions; that’s what makes them the world wide leader.


      • Posted by Kevin on 2009/11/22 at 7:50 PM

        I wouldn’t argue against cheerleading competitions😄. You can’t forget the SpeedStacks competitions either.


  11. Posted by wixson on 2009/12/01 at 9:04 PM

    mark/matthew, do you guy have a generic timeline for the draw. I’m looking to find out when the actual draw starts (not just the televised preview coverage and charlize/mandela/beckham stuff). but the actual draw itself. Work constraints will keep me from devoting 2 straight hours to the fluff stuff. what ‘exact’ time will the 1st ball/card be pulled/flipped?


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/12/01 at 9:40 PM


      I can’t find a definitive answer. FIFA lists the draw starting at 7pm local time which would be 12pm Eastern. However, the gig I am going to in Bristol has the draw listed on the schedule from 12:30pm – 2:30pm.

      If I find any better info, I will let you know.


      • Posted by wixson on 2009/12/02 at 7:28 AM

        thx mark. jen chang just confirmed that the actual draw starts at 12:45pm EST. ok, that saves me 45 minutes of fluff. though i’m not mad at charlize theron, not mad at her at all.


  12. […] just leave you with one of my favorite ESPN promos for the World Cup to get you fired up (and since that is where TSG will be for the festivities). Oddly, I never saw this run on ESPN, just on […]


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