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.
All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.
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Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.
Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:
“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”
“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”
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On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Western Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”
MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.
There are certainly already some comparisons between new Premier League record holder Jamie Vardy and fictional Santiago Munez from the “Goal!” movies.
But that isn’t going to stop “Goal” screenwriter Adrian Butchart from heading to Tinseltown and pitching the Vardy story as a basis for a new film, according to The Sun.
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And he’s got a who’s who of young actors in mind for the role of Vardy.
From The Sun:
Butchart believes Hollywood A-listers Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and Zac Efron all have potential to fill Vardy’s boots in a film version of his life.
Unfortunately, they don’t ask Butchart who should play Claudio Ranieri, or Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Fortunately, we’re here with our cast (The first one is easy):
Aaron Paul as Vardy.
Robert Downey, Jr. as Van Nistelrooy.
James Franco as Riyad Mahrez.
Tommy Lee Jones as Ranieri.
Ryan Gosling as Kaspar Schmeichel.
Liam Neeson as Nigel Pearson.
And Danny Drinkwater as himself.
The Eastern Conference’s second-stingiest team is looking to enhance its already-strong back line.
Joining MLS Best XI defender Laurent Ciman could be Siaka Tiene, a longtime international teammate of Didier Drogba on the Ivory Coast squad.
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The 96-times capped Tiene will be 34 when next season starts, but will have fresh legs having not played since last season ended for Montpellier.
MLSSoccer.com does the translation work for us:
A report from RDS.ca states that the Impact have signed 33-year-old left back Siaka Tiéné, an Ivory Coast international who boasts World Cup and African Cup of Nations experience.
Aside from Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo is the only Impact back currently under contract.
Tiene played relatively well last season, but was limited to just 17 appearances in Ligue 1.
Phil Neville is one stroke of the pen from opening his full managerial career at a vaunted La Liga stop, with a club in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Nuno Espirito Santo stepped down from his manager’s role at Valencia on Sunday, with the Bats in ninth place, five points outside the Top Four.
[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup | Bundesliga wrap ]
In his place in former Manchester United and Everton legend Neville, who will take charge of the team in the interim.
As weird as it would be to give the job to a man who has only led Salford City — a club he co-owns — on a caretaker basis, the hire would be no weirder than Tim Sherwood being allowed to run Tottenham Hotspur.
Would it be a surprise, given the time of season, if Neville was at least given through the end of the year?
And consider, from the BBC:
The club’s Singaporean owner, Peter Lim, has a stake in Salford City, the non-league club co-owned by Neville with his former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.
Valencia needs to beat Lyon in its final UCL Group H game, and hope Gent draws or loses at home to first-place Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Otherwise, it’s on to the Europa League.