Media Musings: Thoughts on Color

Listening to Taylor Twellman’s color commentary during the Philly/Columbus game, we got to thinking about some of the color commentators now populating national broadcast media in American soccer. Twellman is a recent addition to the group and has shown some flashes in his first few outings in the booth.  Having a recent player is often an advantage because he can add insights not available to most commentators.  Twellman is still a bit reluctant to criticize players and has the unfortunate habit of referring to players by their first names, but he has been solid in the booth and if his career on the field is over, he could be a mainstay for ESPN going forward.

Another former player who has been a large part of ESPN’s coverage over the last couple of years has been Kyle Martino. Martino serves as the color commentator for the Phildelphia Union and on the World Wide Leader.  Martino has steadily improved over the years and is now a solid stabilizing voice with whomever he has been paired.  Martino has been out of the league for more than two years, but still has knowledge of the players and coaches on the field.

Christopher Sullivan has been a mainstay in the FSC booth for MLS and other games.  The former US International has been out of the professional game for more than a generation.  Sullivan is a solid pro who has been paired with numerous partners over the years.  Although he tends to rely on a series of standard analytical points, his game analysis is clear and informative.

FSC has also recently employed former US International Paul Caligiuri to provide color commentary.  Caligiuri is new to the booth and his commentary shows that inexperience.  He struggles to find openings to speak and much of his analysis is fairly basic and uninformative.

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Soccer Business Bits: MLS Pre- World Cup Version

With the World Cup about to start and MLS about to embark on a 2 week hiatus, we thought we would take a quick look around the business of the league before all eyes turn to South Africa.  A while back we reported that longtime FIFA sponsor Continental Tire has signed with MLS as a league sponsor.  The multi-year deal provides signage at all MLS matches, hospitality arrangements at games and commercials on league broadcasts.  As is typical for such league-wide deals, SUM negotiated the deal on behalf of MLS and terms of the deal were not disclosed.  Continental is now the official tire of MLS and will have the right to use league marks in its advertising and product.

Now Major League Soccer’s official website is circulating (via e-mail) a survey targeting its user’s tire preferences.  The survey asks readers for their knowledge of Continental Tire and whether they are more likely to purchase tires from Continental because of Continental’s relationship with MLS.  The survey provides some significant insight in Major League Soccer’s efforts to promote its sponsors.  Recall that Continental Tire, through the MLS website, recently offered a free MLS jersey to any fan who purchases four Continental brand tires at participating dealers in certain Northeast locations.  The jersey can be from a team of the fan’s choice and can be redeemed by submitting certain documents to a designated address. The promotion applies to purchases made between May 15 and June 30.

In New England, injured Revs star is the official World Cup analyst for Comcast Sports Net New England, the Regional Sports Network that carries the Revs. Despite his injury problems, Twellman is a recognizable figure to most Boston ara sports fans and his presence on a station as popular as CSN will likely drive mainstream interst in the Cup.

MLS closes its pre-World Cup schedule on ESPN2 Thursday night with a Seattle home game.  The game gets a lead in from ESPN2’s 2.5 hour World Cup preview and provides a great opportunity to put the outstanding atmosphere of Seattle before non-MLS soccer fans who are watching the preview might tune in for MLS action.