Gus Johnson calling his first Champions League match was a big enough occasion to spawn a running diary of a running diary. So how did he do?
Well, okay. Not great, but he was solid and excitable, if occasionally behind the action. A friend of mine who works in television noticed that he talked a bit too much during some of the action, not allowing colorman Warren Barton a chance to offer an observation. Unlike American football and basketball where Johnson made his name, soccer offers fewer replays and breaks in the action, so the play-by-play man needs to allow his partner more time to speak as the play is developing. That’s the type of understanding that can only come with experience.
Fox’s overlords liked Johnson enough to add the March 5 Real Madrid-Manchester United redux at Old Trafford to his schedule in addition to Arsenal-Bayern Munich (Feb. 19) and Manchester City-Chelsea (Feb. 24).
For me, one of the biggest things was the fact that Johnson and partner Barton were on site. That allowed them to give a feel for the game that was happening off-camera, which they relayed effectively to the viewing audience. They could have been better, they could have been quicker, but at least they were there. Calling soccer is hard enough when you’re not handicapped by working off of monitors. (Yes, I’m taking to you, BeinSport.)
All in all: not the best debut in the world, but hardly the worst.
(Want more Johnson? Here’s a brilliant 90-second mashup from the crew at TerezOwens.com.)
In an interview with SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, Johnson said: “The key for me is to try to take it — and I don’t mean to sound cliché — but literally one match at a time. Learn everything I can about that one match and the two sides that are playing and go with it from there and allow my knowledge to grow.”
Some people can’t stand later-stage Johnson, but as long as he stays away from phrases like the ones above, we’ll all be in a better place football watching-wise.
The game in 100 words (or less): Vancouver is a long way from Houston. That could’ve been a problem for a Dynamo team that had yet to see a road point through six games. DaMarcus Beasley made sure to put the Dynamo on the front foot with a goal that turned back the hands of time and, after a shoving match between Alex and Pedro Morales left both sides down a man, Octavio Rivero scored an outside of the foot goal to level things up. Russell Teibert was an artistic passing machine for the ‘Caps, and both Tyler Deric and David Ousted made terrific stops as it ended 1-1.
Three moments that mattered
20′ — Beasley scores a beauty — This run, dribble and finish is something this man has done many-a-time in his long and storied career.
42′ — Alex and Morales trade shoves, see red — No reason for this, fellas.
52′ — Rivero scores an attractive equalizer — A measured, bending shot from a man capable of authoring beauty with his feet.
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Man of the match: Russell Teibert
Goal scorers: Beasley (20′), Rivero (52′)
What did Jurgen Klinsmann learn from Tuesday’s win over Ecuador?
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Michael Bradley will be lying deep, while Bobby Wood is in for Graham Zusi and Ale Bedoya completes the midfield picture. Kyle Beckerman is out.
Oh, and left back belongs to Sporting KC center back Matt Besler. With Timmy Chandler injured, Edgar Castillo just arriving and Fabian Johnson going 90 against Ecuador, this was one of his only moves.
Still no Darlington Nagbe in the starting lineup, nor Christian Pulisic. Both were inspired subs against Ecuador.
The Yanks and Bolivia kick off from Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City at 8 p.m. ET, and this is how Jurgen Klinsmann has chosen to line up his USMNT.
Lineup: Guzan; Besler, Brooks, Cameron, Orozco; Jones, Bradley, Bedoya; Wood, Dempsey, Zardes.
The world was treated to the rare sight of a shirtless Cristiano Ronaldo as he celebrated the clinching penalty in a win over Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final in Milan on Saturday.
Jokes aside, one of the greatest players of his generation did get a moment to remember despite having a rather forgettable 120 minutes beforehand. Ronaldo buried the final penalty to give Real a 5-3 win in kicks after a 1-1 score line post-regulation.
[ MORE: Match recap | Bale reacts to second title ]
He almost sounded apologetic after the match, one that saw Real struggle to assert itself after a strong 45 minutes.
From the BBC:
“The penalties are always a lottery, you never know what will happen but our team showed more experience and we showed it by scoring all the penalties. A fantastic night for us.
“It is the end of the season and people are not fit, we have to rest and we have to go for the Euros.”
Then again, when you’re a superstar and have a trio of UCL crowns, you can feel however you like. Ronaldo’s never been a man for John Wooden-style quotes — heck, we’d even take David Beckham’s personality from him — but he’s won it all thrice.
And to be fair, the other two were better games (and performances from him). Ronaldo scored for Manchester United against Chelsea and capped off the scoring in the 2014 Real win over Atleti.
It took 120 minutes and penalty kicks, but Real Madrid outlasted Atletico Madrid for the second time in three seasons to win its 11th UEFA Champions League final on Saturday in Milan.
[ MORE: Match recap ]
Welsh star Gareth Bale made his spot kick before Cristiano Ronaldo took advantage of Juanfran hitting the post on his attempt, and Real won 1-1 (5-3) on the night.
Bale was thrilled.
From the Fox Sports broadcast:
“What an amazing feeling. In extra time a lot of people became cramped but we showed resilience, what we’re made of and we won the 11th.
“They gave it a great game. We feel a little bit sorry for them but you have to win a final.”
Afterwards, Bale said Wales would try to win the Euro 2016 because, “Why not?”
Why not, Gareth? Why not?