|Storm brewing during Open Cup game between|
Philadelphia and Rochester in 2012.
First up, on Tuesday, I’ll be calling the online stream of the US Open Cup game between the Philadelphia Union and Harrisburg City Islanders. I love the Open Cup. I love the pressure the single-elimination Open Cup creates in each game, its potential for upsets, and (if I’m honest) its role as a niche competition overlooked by many. I lived in Philadelphia for almost a year in 2011-12 as my better half finished her studies, so I saw two games during the Union’s run to the Open Cup semifinals in 2012 (including their win over Rochester, pictured above), and I’m excited to be calling their home games in the tournament this year.
Tuesday's game will mean a little something extra to Philadelphia players because it will be the first game for interim manager Jim Curtin, and thus the first chance for players to prove they deserve playing time in the future. Harrisburg is off to a slow start and relies on four on-loan Union players during league play. That quartet will not be allowed to play on Tuesday, one reason Harrisburg is a decided underdog. Don’t write them off, though; the City Islanders have advanced in five of their nine all-time meetings against MLS clubs in the Open Cup.
My second broadcast next week, on Thursday, is exciting in a very different way. It will be my first chance to call a game for the women’s national team, the top-ranked team in the world, as they take on No. 4 France in the second of back-to-back friendly games. These teams’ recent competitive meetings (2011 Women’s World Cup semifinals, 2012 Olympics) were both highly entertaining (3-1 and 4-2 US wins), and France is one of the few teams that can hope to match the US in terms of skill, so this is as big a friendly as you could hope to call, and it will be streamed on USsoccer.com.
Watching tape (and by tape, I generally mean YouTube, although sketchy streams from France have also been used) on both France and the US has been a lot of fun. Both teams will bring some of the best players in the world, particularly on the attacking side of the ball, but we'll also get to see some newer faces at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., all hoping to make the squads for next year's Women's World Cup in Canada.
I took French in both high school and college and loved trying to read the daily sports newspaper L’Equipe when I have traveled in France, so determining the correct pronunciations for French players’ names has been a blast. It’s made for a busy few weeks of preparation, and it should pay off when I call both games next week!