So for the first time Saturday morning, we heard ESPN's lead announcing team for the World Cup.
And right there, something's wrong. Even if ESPN managed to pick two good lead announcers, why would you debut them for the World Cup? ABC wouldn't put a rookie announcing team together for the Super Bowl or the World Series. Why would you cobble together a team at the last minute for the World Cup? Would it kill the Mouse to pick a couple of guys who have actually met?
I'm not one of those professional ESPN-bashers, but this is one of the problems they still have with the sport, even after all this time and effort. You usually want guys who are comfortable with each other.
Ah, but in the game itself, US newcomer (for all intensive purposes) (yes, I know, I was trying to be funny) (well, same to you with bells on, pal) Edson Buddle fit in with the team pretty damn seamlessly. Fellow newcomer Herculez Gomez has the first touch awful, second touch goal thing going. Talent will find a way.
Talent being the key word.
Yes, we've all had a lot of fun with Johnny Ace and his messing with the horns. That wasn't my least favorite Harkes moment. The camera showed some Everton fans, and John theorizes that they have divided loyalties. You see, because Tim Cahill is one of Everton's legends, and Landon Donovan took the Beatles tour.
And Martin Tyler didn't say nothin'. Sure, maybe because it was such a stupid comment. But maybe because in Tyler's case, "divided loyalties" is a sensitive subject.
I'm not saying put Tyler in the wood-chipper with Harkes. I'm not even saying deport him - Martin Tyler's probably a great choice for every non-US game, including the Final. (Assuming the US doesn't make it that far.)
But to hire an English announcer for the US-England game? Benedict Arnold thinks that's being a bit too Tory. Every other country has a play-by-play guy who can pronounce his team's players' names, if not any other team's. Yes, I realize "Oguchi Onyewu" can be tricky to the untrained eye. So why is the untrained eye our lead announcer?
Probably for the same reason we were treated to long stretches of David Beckham looking vapidly at nothing. That's been ESPN's soccer coverage since 2007 - I'm surprised they didn't play their "Great Moments in Beckham Staring Off Into Space" package.
Tyler's just the latest, and worst, symptom, of ESPN trying to serve us chips instead of fries. There will be plenty of time for Martin Tyler in August, when we go back to pretending to be English fans on Saturday mornings.
I'm not saying bring back Dave O'Brien. But JP Dellacamera and Bob Ley are actually going to be in the country during the tournament - hand them the mike for our games. They've been there for years, just like we have. They share our outlook, they know our history. Martin Tyler doesn't.
This might be the most important moment in American soccer in any of our lifetimes. So where is the American voice? Telling us not to mess with the horns. God spare us.
Are the games on radio anywhere?