Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rating MLS Local Announcers

I watched the Toronto-Houston match last night on MLSnet which used the Houston telecast feed. It was the first game called by the Houston announcers I've caught in quite some time, and I think I've heard all the local announce teams this season so I've decided to rank them.

The criteria will be how well they call the game being played on the field, how much they gear their announcing towards the home side, and a completely subjective ranking by me. The final rank takes a lot more into account than the first two categories. And yes, I'm a biased Revolution supporter. (click title to see rankings)

So in no particular order:

Houston Dynamo

Announcers: Charlie Palillo, Glen Davis

Decent broadcast last night. Glen Davis, who hosts one of the best soccer radio shows in the country, provides color commentary that is very relevant to the play on the field. He can also break down plays in a concise manner. What I didn't like was the length of the advertising plugs Palillo was forced to read. God bless his soul, he tried to find good opportunities to squeeze them in, but if it takes 30 seconds to read them, the game will change from he starts to when he finishes. There was one such plug where he spoke over one or two legitimate scoring opportunities.

Calling the game: 7, Homerism: 5, Rank: 4

Kansas City

Announcers: Sean Wheelock, Brian Roberts

I was surprised when I heard how long Sean Wheelock has been at the announcing game. I first heard of him a few years ago through Fox Sports World (now Fox Soccer Channel). As it turns out, he's been calling Wizard games for quite some time. Of all the local announcers, he's the hands down leader in putting the game first. He calls the game in a similar fashion you would find on an EPL broadcast. The problem is that his voice is rather annoying and the gravity he exudes doesn't typically match the vibe emanating from the stands.

Calling the game: 10, Homerism: 1, Rank: 5

Columbus Crew

Announcers: Dwight Burgess, Dante Washington

Along with Brian Roberts and Robin Fraser, it's nice to see a former African-American player getting a broadcast gig without the media whores at MLS HQ embarrassing themselves with parallels to Jackie Robinson. That's about the only thing positive I can say about the Crew broadcast team. The game I watched was a home match against DC. They talked over the game, and what they were saying wasn't at all interesting or relevant.

Calling the game: 3, Homerism: 8, Rank: 12

Salt Lake City

Announcer: Bill Riley, Robin Fraser

Fraser doesn't fill the telecast wish superfluous banter, which is good. It's standard issue stuff from a FSN braodcast and pretty low key. Not a lot to hate, but not a lot to love.

Calling the game: 6, Homerism: 5, Rank: 9

Chicago Fire

Announcers: Kenn Tomasch, Kenny Stern

I remember catching a game of theirs a few years ago and was completely turned off by the homerism. They have changed their act in a big way. Both of the games I've watched them call were against the Revs. There was only a hint of bias and nearly equal time was spent on both teams.

Calling the game: 8, Homerism: 2, Rank: 2

LA Galaxy

Announcers: Jim Watson, Mark Rogandino

Rogandino's getting his chops in at FSC announcing lead-in's to EPL matches. I wish some of those announcers rubbed off on him. The broadcast talked over last Saturday's game and was riddled with inaccuracies. LA beat the Revs in the 2005 MLS Cup final. I really don't think the announcers knew that with the way they threw around superfluous stats.

Calling the game: 3, Homerism: 6, Rank: 11

Colorado Rapids

Typical FSN stuff. Something that really bothered me was the number of advertising plugs and graphics on the screen about other Colorado sports teams.

Calling the game: 5, Homerism: 6, Rank: 10

Red Bull New York

Announcers: JP Dellacamera, Shep Messing

I've already shared my thought on Messing here. The thing that makes this broadcast stand out is the team's voice quality. You can tell they are pros who have been at the announcing game for some time. I still think a lot of Messing's comments would be better served in the studio, but the broadcast is one of the better ones in MLS.

Calling the game: 6, Homerism: 7, Rank: 6

New England Revolution

Announcers: Brad Feldman, Greg Lalas

Make no mistake, Brad Feldman is our Homer. He's also quite a talented announcer who my not be limited to calling Revs games in the future. Greg Lalas does what some of the other color guys should do and that's keep his partner's home team bias in check. They make a great team. It's almost too good because the little inside jokes the two pals have spills into the telecast at times.

Calling the game: 8, Homerism: 8, Rank: 3

Chivas USA

Announcers: Christian Miles, Bernardo Osuna

It's tough playing the latino angle on the English broadcast. Chrisopher Sullivan is busy with the FSC game of the week, so that was an experience drain this season. Christian Miles is an odd choice given his inability to distinguish between Latvia and Lithuania on entire WC qualifier broadcasts. However, they do give the game proper respect. There's also something about Osuna's style that I love. He's in and out quickly with his comments, which is rare in MLS.

Calling the game: 7, Homerism: 7, Rank: 7

FC Dallas

Announcers: Brad Sham, Dave Dir

Dave Dir is a wealth of knowledge. It's a decent broadcast, but sometimes Brad Sham doesn't seem like he's all that into the game. The "Dave's Dir-ections" feature does make me chuckle whenever I hear it, though.

Calling The Game: 6, Homerism: 6, Rank: 8

Toronto FC

Announcers: Nigel Reed, Craig Forrest

The English play by play guy brings a touch of class to the broadcast. For awhile, I've thought that American announcers should call games like the do in England. I still do. However, this team makes me think that it may be the manner in which Englishmen approach speaking is better suited to calling soccer than the way Americans approach verbal communications. The Cannuck color guy is a bit of a homer, but overall it's probably the best in MLS.

Calling the game: 9, Homerism: 5, Rank: 1

DC United

Whoops! I haven't actually caught any of their telecasts this season. When I was stationed in Viginia, I caught them all the time on Comcast and loved the run of poor form they were experiencing. I also really enjoyed Thomas Rongen's color commentary when he was on. However, it wouldn't be fair to rank them here.

Rank: n/a

Final Rankings:

1. Toronto FC
2. Chicago Fire
3. New England Revolution
4. Houston Dynamo
5. Kansas City
6. Red Bull New York
7. Chivas USA
8. FC Dallas
9. Real Salt Lake
10. Colorado Rapids
11. LA Galaxy
12. Columbus Crew

Not ranked: DC United


Eric PZ said...

Craig Forrest was keeper at Ipswich Town for a number of years (teammates with Frank Yallop) He actually had a trial to be TFCs backup keeper a couple months ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Crew fan and I hate Dwight Burgess.