ABC/ESPN World Cup announcers: The debacle continues

First of all, ESPN has started to get more useful analysts on the program, but unfortunately not in the commentator's booth where they belong: .

  • Allen Hopkins has been doing the tabloid trawl for them. Hopkins is another good analyst. He's usually on Fox Soccer Channel where I've come to know him for his knowledge of the game. His only problem comes when he's teamed with his great mate Max Bretos. They both drift off into their chummy world together rather than focusing on the game at hand.
  • Derek Rae is appearing about five seconds at a time with a smidgen of news on some obscure topic. What a freaking waste. Rae's Champions League commentary is impeccable, so you would think ESPN would think to use him as more than a cameo reporter.

Meanwhile the announcer disgrace continues. I ran out of patience with JP Dellacamera in the Ghana/Czech match. When Amoah was fouled dribbling into the six, Ujfalusi was rightly given a red card. The referee rightly consulted with his assistant, and then gave the big decision. The reason was obvious: Ujfalusi was the last defender, and fouled to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Apparently this was lost on both Dellacamera and John Harkes. First of all they mused for a few minutes that it was a straight red card for dissent. I was hopping up and down in front of the TV by then. And then someone apparently handed them a slip of paper to point out that the red card was for the foul. But rather than put the obvious together, they instead went on musing that the foul was not bad enough to merit a red card. By this point I had to restrain myself from irrationally damaging my TV. How could they not even guess at the correct reason for the red card? Dellacamera has called enough matches with a red card for that very same reason that he should be aware of the rule. It just seemed to me that they left their brains in the prep room, which is inexcusable for such a big game.

Balboa is not having an inspired time in the booth. I'm biased, as I said, and continue to believe his main problem is in having to cope with O'Brien. I do like that excepting his indignant reaction to the Pope red card, he was generally correct in his assessments of the U.S./Italy game, even when sound judgment ran against the U.S. In the case of the Beasley goal that was correctly ruled out for a McBride off-side, Balboa was very quick to point out the reason for the call. And I expect he was having to bite his tongue while O'Brien was saying "Yes. If McBride didn't lift his foot, it would not have been offside." Say what?

A few gems I couldn't resist quoting:

Dave O'Brien: "That was one stiff shot there by Mastroeni." Behold the midfielder-cum-bartender.

Rob Stone: "Here's Alex. Born in Brazil; native, now, of Japan." The born-again naturalization.

Rob Stone re-christens the instep shot. It's now the "inside stroke". You can use it in the water, too.

Then again while we're collecting ABC/ESPN announcer Goldwynisms, let's not forget that even the true football experts say some screwy things now and then.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia
5 responses
Half the issue with the announcers is the need to talk for the length of the game.  Hence they expoind on a point once - Brazil's timing is off / Ghana's defensive line is playing too far forward - and keep going back to that comment over and over. This is best demonstrated by Balboa, who was a professional soccer player and knows more about the game than anyone writing for this blog but struggles to fill 90 minutes.

Must be same problem with Tommy Smyth, who has websites dedicated to complaining about his coverage (he has called over 1000 games by the way, so good or bad, it is not inexperience)...

Dave O'Brien is absolutely the worst soccer announcer I've ever heard.  I cannot listen to him.  I watch the spanish coverage even though I don't understand spanish.

I believe that O'Brien shows the ultimte arrogance to accept the offer from espn to call the games.  Virtually every remark he makes is either wrong, inappropriate, off-point.  It's not too late to get rid of O'Brien and espn should admit their egregious error, aplogize to the soccer community, and replace him with someone who knows something about the game.
Dave O'Brien is doing an absolutely fantastic job. He is probably one of the best announcers in the US at this time. He is the ultimate professional in his field. I've listened to this guy do the job for the Florida Marlins for years and to see him doing so well in world cup games is amazing. I've listened to Andres Cantor in english and he cant even clean the shoes to Dave O'Brien. There is noone in the world that would a more professional job than Dave. Cudos.

Now, as far as the color guys go, ABC probably could hire a better color guy than Marcelo Balboa. But, overall an excellent job by ABC game booth crew.
I agree David Obrien is the worst soccer announcer I have ever heard. Please go do something else. We don't want or need you rediculous commentary
Espn soccer announcers are boring both potential and decreasing numbers of hardcore fans to death.

Mls games on espn seem more like a daytime talk show than a serious sporting event. Just when a dangerous attack is building up either Rob Stone or Dave O'Brien always ask Eric Wynalda a question instead of taking full control. So now we have pandermodium in the goalmouth and Waldo preaching a sermon about nothing concerning what we are watching. And these sideline interviews with coaches during live play with Brandie Chastine are retarded. TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL THE BROTH. These idiots talk for the sake of talking.

LET THE GAME BREATH for Christ sake. If Rob Stone refers to a cross into the penalty arear as a serve one more time i'm gonna jump out the window.

The kid reminds me of Boy Wonder aka Boy Blunder Batmans sidekick. Seems to me ESPM wants to build a Soccer Mom league at the expence of real fans.