ESPN's performance - USA/Mex

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by Geneva, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. S.J. Jim

    S.J. Jim Member+

    Jun 11, 2006
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've always liked J.P., although I went :confused: ... when he began by saying the U.S. was in the white shirts and black shorts... ??? As far as all the "Rivalry Week" comments, that's not J.P.'s fault- he's doing as he's told as far as that goes.

    Harkesie is usually pretty good (despite over-using the phrase "as well" ever since he came back from England), but he seemed a little rusty to me at times. Still, he's not Marcelo Balboa, so I'm not going to complain.

    I think Rob Stone is solid. Foudy is okay... I noticed her rather casual appearance too... odd, but I don't really care. I don't much care for Christian Miles on FSC, so Stone is kind of a relief for me.

    I agree that the interview with Magallon (sp?) after the match was a nice touch.

    I hate the camera cutting to the crowd so much during the action, and I don't like the ESPN cut-aways to other sports reports during the action... but overall I'm not too hard to please.
  2. djdustmite

    djdustmite New Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    Even when he's not at his best JP is class. Here's to hoping that he'll be the voice moving forward.
  3. wooglin12

    wooglin12 Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    Birmingham, AL
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    How about the ratings? We got any overnights.
  4. PVancouver

    PVancouver Member

    Apr 1, 1999
    I liked Harkes better than Wynalda because he isn't nearly so harsh as Wynalda. But the level of analysis, not just by Harkes but by any US color analyst, needs to be ratcheted up significantly. And in general, and specifically in this game, there is too much negativity about US play.

    06:00 Harkes: “I’d like to see, a little bit better early on, is the pressure on the ball from the two strikers on the US side....there is not enough pressure on the ball, not enough intensity there.”

    Well, US strikers really weren’t in a position to pressure much in the first six minutes, and it is doubtful it would have made any difference if they had. This is a negative comment without much strategic substance.

    Eight minutes in Castro backs into Convey when Convey tries to kick the ball backward over his head—and simultaneously gives Convey an elbow.

    07:59 Harkes: “Well, it’s the first touch of the ball from Convey, not a very productive one, a little bit of diving there, a little bit of play acting, a little bump from Castro, not too much.”

    I’m sorry but Convey’s first touch was excellent and Castro clearly fouled him. It certainly was not a dive, play acting, or anything of the sort.

    Nine minutes in Mexico countered a strong US attack with a nice feed to Vela who runs the length of the field.

    09:16 Harkes: “A more concerning situation, JP, is the transition game for the US, leaving that hole open there, that’s not something the US wants to do. You want to make sure that you’re moving as a team and and not giving them a chance to breathe and get out on these counter attack situations.”

    The US successfully closed down the counter, defending with 4 against 3. Immediately prior, the US had a strong positional and numerical advantage and had every right to press forward and try to convert what was a golden scoring opportunity. I would not blame the counter attack on poor US play at all.

    10:15 “Now the US has to do a little bit better with communicating as they move as a team.”

    I’m sorry but the US looked good moving forward. Mexico got a terrific one time pass out of their own six yard box to Vela, who is a strong and fast forward. Lack of communication had nothing to do with Mexico’s counter attack. Some counter attacks are going to occur even when playing smart soccer.

    Fourteen minutes in, Mexican forward Bautista came inside his own half to receive a pass at the top of the circle. Clark had gone upfield and was a bit out of the play, Bradley ran across the field to defend Bautista, who made a simple lateral pass to Castro, who in turn, hounded by Donovan, passed all the way back to his goalkeeper.

    14:09 Harkes: “The one thing, JP, that the US needs to do a little bit better there is not allowing Bautista to have that much room to peel off of the front line into the midfield, you can’t have three guys marking one in the back. Someone has to step forward and take that responsibility to shut him down early.”

    I could see making that comment if Bautista was in an attacking midfield position in the US half, but he was in his own half with apparently no options to go forward. It was an odd comment to make.

    Twenty-seven minutes in, Dempsey makes a great turn and shoots from 6 yards out at a tough angle.

    27:02 Harkes: “It’s a good sign, but look, Bautista up front, if we’re talking and comparing guys, Altidore, young player, Bautista on the other side, he’s holding the ball up for the Mexicans, he’s bringing them into the game, that doesn’t seem to be happening with the US.”

    Thus begins Harkes game long desire to “hold the ball and bring other players in”. The US made a good play and Harkes responded immediately with a negative comment about US play in general. True, Mexico had made eight consecutive strong attacks against the US at 8:53, 16:42, 19:41, 21:07, 21:38, 22:42, 23:27, and 24:36; but perhaps Harkes was auditioning for Sigi Schmid, who is always seems to be looking for a holding d-mid or forward. Throughout this stretch of Mexico control, Bautista had about three touches on the ball. One was the play at 14:00, one was a simple “holding forward” type backpass to a midfielder, and one was a backheeled shot that only found a teammate because of a rebound. The Mexican possession game was hardly revolved around Bautista.

    At 27:14, just as Harkes was finished his comment, Moor played the ball to Dempsey who was inside his own half. Dempsey then turned and sent a tremendous long ball to Donovan down the right side, which Donovan then crossed to Altidore and Convey in the box.

    At 28:21 Onweyu threw to the six, the ball was punched by Ochoa to Donovan, who lifted the ball back to Onweyu, who headed the ball back to the right post and in.

    28:50 Dellacamera: “Against the run of play...”
    29:50 Harkes: “Against the run of play, JP, as you said....”

    Apparently the goal was scored “against the run of play”. But why be so negative? To that point I counted seven dangerous plays for the US and nine dangerous plays for Mexico. Not terribly one-sided. And the US had had the three scoring chances immediately prior to the goal, at 26:27, 27:14, and 27:55.

    30:30 Harkes: “Just as I’m about to criticize him saying why is he the biggest man on the field taking the throw-ins, he needs to be in the box...”.

    Well, I’ve never played in MLS but I can’t believe it was up to Onweyu to take it upon himself to decide that he should be the one to take throw-ins deep in the opponent’s end. As a former MLS player, he should know this. Shouldn’t the criticism be directed at Bradley?

    At 32:55, Corrales is called for a foul on Arce at 32:55 that resulted in the first Mexican goal. I’m not sure if it was a fair call against Corrales.

    At 39:15, Moor drives a terrific ball to the head of Altidore (and Dempsey), and Altidore heads it into the goal.

    39:20 Harkes: “Talk about making the most of your opportunities!”

    I assume Harkes was talking about the US, and not Altidore. But the US attack had hardly been lifeless, as they had gotten the ball into the penalty area at 35:45, 36:23, and 38:57. It wasn’t like that goal had been only their second opportunity to score.

    Despite the 2-1 scoreline, which could have very easily been 3-1 if Dempsey had not been offside, Harkes says at halftime: “Mexico really kind of dictated the pace right from the start, the US had a hard time putting passes together, the combination play wasn’t there, the communication wasn’t there, and look, basically Mexico started out really well.”

    This despite the fact that Mexico never really got a handle on the game until the 20th minute and was losing 2-1 and which could have easily been 3-1.

    What about the second half?

    Harkes: “It’s got to be better, right from the back, through the midfield, and up front, the combination play, the transitions as well. The US need to have somebody with a cool head that can get on top of the ball, slow the game down, dictate it, make better decisions with the ball.”

    It doesn’t sound like Harkes was too terribly thrilled with the US play in the first half. The only good solution seems to be for Bob Bradley to sub in .... John Harkes.

    You wouldn’t know it from the commentary, but the US was not giving away ball after ball. I didn’t get a sense that the players were panicking. The US did not possess quite as well as the Mexicans but it was not Turnover City.

    After halftime, despite the fact that the US actually played much worse than they had in the first half (as did Mexico), criticism from Harkes subsided significantly. Ten minutes in though, he wonders if Benny Feilhaber might step onto the pitch.

    55:40 Harkes: “Somebody who can step on the ball, control the pace of the game, slow it down.”

    When Feilhaber does come on eight minutes later, the US passed the ball around to give their two new subs a feel for the ball and Harkes noted a dramatic change in the US style of play, presumably due to the presence of Feilhaber. The praise was a bit premature. Feilhaber barely touched the ball in the final 20 minutes of the match while Mexico dominated possession.

    In the 89th minute Corrales attempted to block the run of Dos Santos, and reached out with his right foot and stepped over the ball as Dos Santos knocked it through his legs. Corrales took down Dos Santos and drew a yellow card. Harkes labeled it a “lack of discipline”, despite the fact that Corrales was not only able to reach the ball but actually reached past the ball! That is, he was in a good position to make the play, he just didn’t. It was only a “lack of discipline” because he failed.

    Harkes faulted Moor for his “lack of discipline” on the two goals, but at least he stayed close to his man. On the first goal, Moor is held back a bit and doesn’t have the early view of the ball that Magallon does. I suspect Magallon is probably also a bit quicker than Moor. On the second ball, if not for the deflected header, Moor would have been in a much better position to make on a play on the ball. In both cases, Moor has a strong hold on Magallon’s jersey, for all the good that it does him. I would not criticize Moor for a lack of discipline.

    The real culprit for those goals were two terrific free kicks by Pardo, both of which could have been headed in, freezing Howard, and both of which were perfectly placed to Magallon at the far post. Far worse than Moor’s play on those two goals was Corrales’ play. He left Bautista completely free on the first goal, and did not retreat with Magallon to help support Moor on the second goal, even though his man Bautista stayed completely out of the play apparently looking for a long rebound. If you want to blame someone for a lack of discipline, blame Corrales (not that he isn’t getting enough blame already).

    I know that some of my opinions about the game differ from the consensus. For example, many questioned why Moor and Corrales were on the field but it is quite obvious that both are a threat going forward. They both have strong legs. Frankie Hejduk could play 300 games and never hit a ball like Moor did. Moor made several excellent passes in addition to his assist. It is quite obvious that Moor and Corrales are not the fleetest of athletes, but given their limitations they did not play all that badly. It wasn’t like Mexico was blowing right by them. Corrales in particular looked a bit clumsy at times. He either had a bad game or just isn’t very good. I don’t think it is fair to assume both.

    Some may think I am being overly critical of Harkes. Color commentators are put in a difficult situations because quite frequently they are asked to give a short, clear explanations for what is or isn’t happening on the field. They don’t have the luxury of multiple rewinds and careful thought and reflection. But, in the future, I would like to Harkes be a little bit more positive about the quality of US play and be a little bit less likely to hope for a substitute that might step on the ball and slow things down a bit.
  5. sitruc

    sitruc Member+

    Jul 25, 2006
    Are you saying Harkes isn't as harsh Wynalda, but he is still too negative?

    Why would we think that?:rolleyes:
  6. Craig P

    Craig P BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 26, 1999
    Eastern MA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The audience isn't anywhere else in the world, it's in the U.S. where every single non-soccer broadcast has the home team on the right/bottom.

    Any but a diehard soccer fan who chanced across the game would know exactly where the game was being played. And most diehard soccer fans would probably remember that ESPN follows American convention.
  7. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    We went through that on the YA board a couple of months ago.

    The US sports uses @ as the divider, X team @ Y team.

    The rest of the world uses the equivalent of "hosts" - X-team hosts Y-team.

    PS. I thought the first US goal was against the run of play too but other Harkes' comments didn't seem to be hitting the mark for me.

    PPS. ESPN make-up and wardrobe department may not be doing Julie Foudy any favors but they can't be anything worse than what they're doing to Dana Jacobson.
  8. sitruc

    sitruc Member+

    Jul 25, 2006
    Every morning when I see her on tv, I think the same thing. Her wardrobe is horrible and they don't know what to do with her hair. I used to point that out to people. That always just garnered strange looks and follow-up questions though. Her attire is just one of the reasons I wish they would just replace her. If they want to replace her with a woman, Sage Steele is already there. ESPN waited and got her from Comcast SportsNet for a reason. She has been better in a lot of the segments I've seen anyways. Unfortunately(fortunately for her 3 kids and husband), I haven't heard anything about her drunk or any negativity towards Purdue or anything.
  9. PVancouver

    PVancouver Member

    Apr 1, 1999
    This thread has been a real eye-opener for me. I never knew guys cared so much about female attire. Next you will be commenting on her shoes.
  10. sitruc

    sitruc Member+

    Jul 25, 2006
    I know you're kidding, but they stay simple with her shoes. They're normally the most uninspiring shoes on the show. She normally wears solid color flats. I don't like seeing her wearing sneakers. Clothes are designed to be seen from the waist up on the show and it shows on all of the regulars. The fits don't always look right when they stand or you see the length of the pants.

    //I need to spend some more time in one of the NSR NSFW hot women picture threads after all of that.

    USvsIRELAND Member+

    Jul 19, 2004
  12. Geneva

    Geneva LA for Life

    Feb 5, 2003
    Southern Cal
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Thank you so much for doing all the legwork and documenting my vague thought that Harkes was annoying. I've highlighted the comment above because I agreed with you that it was a clear foul, and also it wasn't Convey's first touch.

    Maybe it was all going by just a little too fast for him this time, and with more practice he'll improve. But one big negative I got from all the quotes you transcribed was how incoherent in general they are. It's almost Balboa-like the way he starts a sentence one way & then veers off without completing his thought. Not an auspicious beginning to the Harkes era.
  13. Crimen y Castigo

    May 18, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    JP rules.

    Even when he doesn't rule, he still rules because his not-ruling is not f/cking up the broadcast with his unruliness, therefore he rules.

    Harkes was not as bad as he has been. While not getting into the actual content of his commentary, I just appreciated the professional tone they both carried throughout the broadcast.

    They pretty much just called the match -- and that's what I, and I think many others, have been begging for.

    And I did notice his overt homerism, and I have to concur that that's expected from a former National captain. If he were physically incapable of giving due credit to the Mexican team or players, that would be a problem. But he was pretty objective about the early Mexican dominance and the quality of the delivery on their set plays, etc. So that gets a big pass from me.
  14. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    Exactly. Dana, somewhat like Julie, has a prominent/strong jaw. She can't have flat hair because they only accentuate that part of her.

    She could actually use a Foudy type mop that takes away attention from her lower face.

    Of course, now I am going to hark back to the days of Gayle Gardner and her green eye shadow.

    BTW, Linda Cohn is looking better these days (well, anything would be an improvement there) but I think that's due to a quick trip to a top notch plastic surgeon rather than to anything ESPN has done.
  15. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    "Better than Marcelo Balboa" is setting the bar pretty low. And by "pretty low" I mean "just drop the bar on the ground and leave it there."
  16. equus

    equus Member

    Jan 6, 2007
    Exactly. The half is only 45 minutes long, give or take a couple of minutes. Can't they just wait until halftime for that stuff? Can anyone confirm that they ran the 30 at 30 during the Dook-UNC game talking about USA-Mexico?
  17. SamsArmySam

    SamsArmySam Member+

    Apr 13, 2001
    Minneapolis, MN
    I watched the game in a bar about 10 feet away from a 60" plasma showing the ESPN2HD broadcast. Picture was gorgeous. Sound was turned off. From my point of view, ESPN's performance was damn near perfect.
  18. jgoal5

    jgoal5 Member

    Apr 4, 2001
    Aston Villa FC
    JP and Harkes were a HUGE upgrade...JP called the match (except for the 10 seconds after a stupid 30 on 30 thing)...and Harkes provided analysis (even if it wasn't great, at least he was trying to give us some extra things about the match)...but if you put that aside, just think about the things we didn't hear:

    1) Clint Dempsey is a rapper...he did a "Don't Tread on Me" rap for a Nike campaign...
    2) That the weather, be it rain, snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain, wind, thunder and lighting, oppressive heat, or freezing conditions were impacting the game
    3) The word stupid
    4) When I played, I use to dive to get's part of the game
    5) If I was playing, I would have taken the shot
    6) I hate Mexico...I'm sorry, but I just don't like these guys
    7) What was he thinking, I mean, COME ON!!!!
    8) As a forward, you have to (whatever example Wynalda wants to give that he did, the forwards now have to do)...

  19. nycct23

    nycct23 New Member

    Nov 2, 2007
    I mean I know the Reliant Stadium crowd heavily favored Mexico and all, but that game really was played in Houston - which is in the United States - and the home team ought to be displayed on the left. In any game a viewer chances across, they should be able to glance at that bar and know who's playing, what minute they're in, what the score is, and where they are. 'Til ESPN gets it right, that ain't true.

    The home team was on the right because the game was played in America. Every other sport in the US has the home team on the right.
  20. DaMa

    DaMa Member

    Jun 17, 2002
    New York
    Grant Wahl is one of the best soccer writers out there. He expects an announcer to not say WE because that is how it is supposed to be. If Jay Bilas were announcing a Duke v Uconn final 4 game and referred to Duke as WE, even though he played for Duke for 4 years, he would be looking for a new job.

    You clearly don't know the first thing about sports journalism. My advice to you, then, is not to comment on it.
  21. Scotty

    Scotty Member+

    Dec 15, 1999
    I agree with Wahl.

    Italian commentators constantly use "we" during Italy games and I find it really irritating. It makes them seem more like cheerleaders than analysts.

    Keough, Wynalda and Balboa are all former USMNT players, too, and I don't recall them doing it.
  22. TheBrand

    TheBrand Member

    Oct 7, 2006
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Some Scottish commentators do it too. It always makes me squirm for some reason...
  23. falvo

    falvo Member+

    Mar 27, 2005
    San Jose & Florence
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    Considering John Harkes only said the phrases "WELL" & "AS WELL" only 28 times throughout the entire broadcast, I guess their performance was ok. I remember during the World Cup he must have used those phrases 45 times in the 1st half alone. I guess somone told him to stop acting British...... :D
  24. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    Isn't ESPN the same network with Emmitt Smith and Sean Salusbury?

    What do they know about commenting?
  25. sitruc

    sitruc Member+

    Jul 25, 2006
    Agreed. I'm not a fan of her. The female commentator they use for college sports has looked better recently as well.
    The field reporters are normally put together well. The sideline reporters are hit or miss. They rarely dress appropriately(not necessarily a complaint). Do you think ESPN does a better job with the Deportes reporters in studio than they do with them on the other ESPN channels?
    I'm not sure about during that game since it was blacked out here, but I have seen them do it during play. I think it may be more common to do it coming from a full commercial break or during a timeout though. It's annoying during basketball, but I think it's even more annoying during football. Like with soccer, the field is large and there is a lot going on and you can't see anything if they shrink the screen from 16:9 to 4:3 and put three games on screen.

Share This Page