Commentary

Gus Johnson steps up to big-time soccer

By Ridge Mahoney and Paul Kennedy

Not many American broadcasters have shown they can cross-over from other sports to soccer, but FOX Sports is giving Gus Johnson a big shot.

Johnson, who has worked numerous sports during the past two decades and joined the network in 2011, will team with FOX Soccer analyst Warren Barton for the Real-Madrid-Manchester United Champions League match Feb. 13 live from the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Johnson has also been assigned to English Premier League matches, the English FA Cup final and the Champions League final. To help his preparation, he worked some MLS games on radio and spent several weeks in Europe watching games and meeting veteran soccer broadcasters such as Martin Tyler.

“No doubt that the followers of this sport are among the most passionate, knowledgeable fans in the world, and I’m a newcomer,” said Johnson 45. “The effort to learn the sport and absorb its nuance has been a humbling experience. While I’ve put a lot of time into my preparation thus far, it’s definitely going to take a lot of reps before I’ve mastered soccer’s rhythm and pace, but I am determined to do so, and with all the support I’m receiving I have no doubt that I will.”

After debuting with Barton in Madrid, Johnson will call the Arsenal-Bayern Munich match Feb.19 with former Liverpool keeper Ray Clemence, and the Manchester City-Chelsea Premier League game Feb. 24 with ex-Arsenal defender Lee Dixon. Other assignments will be announced as they are determined.

Johnson, a native of Detroit, worked 15 years for CBS Sports and attained notoriety for his hyperventilated calls of NCAA men’s basketball tournament games. He works college football games and NFL programs for FOX.

NEW MLS SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. MLS takes social media seriously, but the threat of match-fixing trumps the public's access to players in a game-day setting. It is instituting a ban on the use of phones and electronic communication devices from within the locker room 60 minutes prior to kickoff. Use will be allowed to resume after games.

In light of the match-fixing scandals sweeping the world, MLS had a soccer security agent in Las Vegas that monitored gambling activity in 2012. And it will hire a director of security to implement a league-wide program to combat the threat.

"While we have faith in the integrity of those associated with MLS," MLS said in a statement posted on the Washington Post's Soccer Insider Facebook page, "we will not ignore what has already transpired around the world. We are not so naive as to think we are immune."

DYNAMO ENDS JERSEY DEAL. The Houston Dynamo reached an agreement with Green star Recycling that will end its team sponsorship. The move follows Green star’s sale to an industry-leading waste management company.

The agreement ends one month into what was to be the third year of the agreement. The Dynamo called the financial terms of the breakup "satisfactory to both parties."

“We believe there is great value in this sponsorship opportunity and are looking forward to finding a new corporate sponsor for our jersey-front,” said Dynamo President Chris Canetti. “The process is in the early stages, but we are confident that we will find an excellent partner.”
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2 comments about "Gus Johnson steps up to big-time soccer".
  1. Peter Skouras, February 5, 2013 at 6:19 p.m.

    Match fixing in the MLS??? Are we serious...with no Promotion/Relegation? How is that possible?

  2. Tom Symonds, February 5, 2013 at 7:40 p.m.

    Another feeble attempt to Americanize the sport by hiring a non-soccer person to deliver the game to an audience which has forgotten more soccer than this guy will ever know no matter how much Cobi Jones helps him. Ridiculous...but that's the path Fox has taken - losing the EPL beginning next season is the culmination of their poor strategies. I'm sure he'll be great when Fox goes to "entertainment sports" (like the idiots on ESPN) and the true soccer people leave for beIN and other outlets.

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