03 May 2012

Looking back: April 28 Dallas-LA Galaxy broadcast

Last week I called three games in eight days for FC Dallas. I have three more games coming up in May, including two in the next seven days, but I want to recap the April games one by one. I started with the Dallas-Vancouver match, then covered the mid-week Dallas-RSL game, and conclude with Dallas on the road against the LA Galaxy. You may have heard of them.

April 28 – FS Southwest Plus / FS Southwest joined in progress – FC Dallas at LA Galaxy
Ironically, I may have spent the least time preparing for this game (since it was the third in a row and I was plenty familiar with Galaxy personnel), yet it was definitely my favorite broadcast of the week. The biggest reason for that was probably comfort level. We were working from the same studio, with virtually the same production team, and with the same announcing duo, as the previous Saturday. Somehow knowing the routine and knowing what to expect really does help.

Along with our producer, Ian and I decided before the game to put a little extra emphasis on being energetic throughout the show. It may sound obvious, but it’s easy sometimes to slip into a lull in the game or feel the effects of starting a show at 9:30 p.m., so focusing on energy was a useful reminder throughout the night.

We got the lineups at what felt like the last minute – right after they’re turned in, about 60 minutes before kickoff – and had to make several adjustments to Dallas (with so many injuries, it’s a tough lineup to predict these days) while making one big adjustment to LA. For the second straight week, we got a goalkeeper change, with Bill Gaudette stepping in for Josh Saunders, based on ‘personal reasons.’ We couldn’t find out any more about Saunders’ absence, but luckily I’ve watched a lot of Gaudette games on TV over the years, from St. John’s to Columbus to Puerto Rico, so I knew what to expect. Once again, his was a storyline we knew the cameras would focus on.

For most games, we do a ‘tease’ for the show open, which is about 10-15 seconds of footage supporting a voiceover to set up the game. For the RSL game, for instance, we had focused on Salt Lake’s winless history in Texas and showed footage of its playoff loss to FC Dallas two years prior, the main chip in the rivalry. I enjoy coming up with the verbiage for a tease as a mental challenge of sorts. We skipped the tease for this game, and I actually thought the abrupt intro went well.

Without much time to think about it, I went back to something Dallas midfielder Bobby Warshaw had told me. Warshaw, who ended up not making the start, had told FC Dallas cameras on Thursday, “If you can’t get up for the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on a Saturday night, you’re in the wrong sport.” So my intro ended up being, “Games don’t get much bigger than this for FC Dallas, playing on the road against the defending MLS Cup champion, the LA Galaxy.” (Looking back at it, I probably should have said “regular season games” for total accuracy, but it just didn’t flow.) Simple, right? Nothing magic about it. But somehow it felt like the right energy with which to start a show, and I thought we carried that energy throughout the broadcast.

This really felt like our best show, start to finish. It was an easy game to stay excited about, with chances for both teams and several swings of possession and momentum throughout the game. In the second half, we knew the regular FOX Sports Southwest audience would be joining the game in progress after the Texas Rangers broadcast ended, and they just happened to come in as Robbie Keane was stepping up to a penalty kick. Now I can’t imagine changing the channel on a penalty kick, even if soccer wasn’t my sport, so I felt like we had a good chance to pick up some viewers. The timing was tight, so in the end I called the penalty kick – a miss, shockingly – and then welcomed in the audience. I hope a few Rangers fans or casual fans stuck around because of that dramatic entry to the broadcast!

It became a dramatic game to call, with Brek Shea scoring another penalty kick (unfortunately often the least dramatic way to call a goal) and Dallas trying to protect a 1-0 lead. It would have been an invaluable point, but LA managed to tie the game in stoppage time. The call of that goal was an awkward one for me, as I called out, “Dallas …” planning to say “clears the ball,” but then had to adjust mid-stride, eventually saying something to the effect of “… gives it away late.” Maybe not the perfect call, but exactly what it felt like in that case, as FC Dallas went from its biggest win of the season to a tie that, while a decent result considered in a vacuum, surely felt like two points lost. I'm trying to track down a DVD copy of the game to share some of the game highlights with you, so hopefully I can do that on my next trip to Big D.

Despite the outcome for Dallas, I felt great after the game. I really felt like it was the best of the four games I’ve called for FC Dallas this year, and I can’t wait to get back on the air this week with two more games, Sunday against Colorado and Wednesday against Seattle.

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