ESPN FC Falls Short For MLS Fans

ESPN FC Falls Short For MLS Fans

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 14, 2013
  • ESPN FC, Features


One could easily say that right now we are living in a golden age of soccer on television. NBC has big plans for the English Premier League, Fox is about to debut their new sports channel with lots of soccer expected on it and the old kid on the block ESPN just debuted their daily(ish) soccer show called ESPN FC.

You really couldn’t ask for more could you? Well, if you are a MLS fan watching ESPN FC, you are asking for more. 

The first couple episodes of the new show just fell short for me personally. Like on Sunday for instance. A game like Sunday’s MLS match in Dallas normally would have been a perfect lead-in but ESPN clearly hadn’t planned on leading with the FC Dallas-LA Galaxy game, which proved to be a not so small problem.

How do you not lead with a game that ended in a 3-3 tie with three goals fromLandon Donovan, loads of controversy to rehash in the form of two blown offside calls, questionable substitutions from FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman, not to mention the remarks from Donovan about Galaxy keeper Carlo Cudicini and his backline?

Instead of debuting at 10 p.m. ET,  ESPN FC launched in mid-show more than 10 minutes after the LA-Dallas game ended and jumped right into the debate on whether Wayne Rooney should leave Manchester United to Chelsea. Really? You lead things off that way? When the full episode was re-aired later on that night, the program actually lead off with Community Shield highlights. Cool, but given how fans tuning in live just saw a wild 3-3 game, I doubt many would have stuck around to see Manchester United-Wigan highlights from a meaningless game.

I’m probably in the minority in this rant though. Many fans tuning into a show like ESPN FC aren’t in it for the MLS highlights. But you’d think that they would have at least kicked off their first show with the Clint Dempsey transfer story. That appeals to both sides of the ball.

My favorite segment…and I mean that sarcastically…came on Monday’s show. Taylor Twellman was in the studio along side his former coach Steve Nicol. At one point they begin talking about the US National team and specifically Timmy Chandler. Twellman mentioned rumors of Chandler wanting to switch back to play for Germany, and Raphael Honigstein, ESPN FC’s ‘German expert’, said, “The German FA have told me they no interest in calling him up.”

One small detail: Chandler has been cap-tied to the USA since the Honduras qualifier in February. There is no possible way of him switching back. Way to go geniuses.

The challenge of a show like ESPN FC or Fox Soccer Daily is whether to make it a U.S. soccer show or an international soccer show. My gut tells me ESPN will focus more on the international side while Fox will at least attempt to show more US and MLS stuff. Just a hunch. Either way both will likely bury MLS deep within the shows blocks and overload viewers with EPL and La Liga highlights (you just know we’ll see endless highlights of Barcelona and Real Madrid on these shows).

The good news about all of this is that ESPN, Fox and NBC are willing to put soccer out there for the masses. ESPN still holds US national team broadcast rights, which means they should be discussing a fair amount of USMNT stuff on their ESPN FC program.


  • Miami 22

    So why don’t more MLS fans write in to ESPN and express their displeasure, ESPN has always put MLS on the back burner and without any big protest it becomes accepted as the norm in soccer news televising. In this day and age with tweeter and Facebook if a fan can’t get their message or displeasure out to a media outlet like ESPN to help steer the way those fans of the sport expect the programming to be televised then nothing can be done.

    • I’m sure some fans have at this point but how much ESPN actually responds to those kinds of emails/notes/tweets remains to be seen.

  • Rasputin

    Obviously I’ll much rather the show feature more MLS talk but if they’re going to feed us “international” talk then I hope is more than just EPL. La Liga, Bundesliga, and Calcio would be nice too. Other soccer shows internationally have time to fit their local leagues + international games into their shows.

    • catwalk

      I agree. I would think the show is basically for domestic eyes only so why not put more focus on MLS and Liga MX?

  • catwalk

    you weren’t the only one. I thought this new show had a perfect lead in from MLS just to go talk about EPL then 2nd guess Dempsey’s decision to move to MLS while still in his prime. not to mention the tight playoff races going on. Any other sport/league these tote of shows would be going nuts with all these talking “experts”. I stopped watching midway through the Dempsey segment.

    I did watch yesterday just to see that this show is still basically EPL centered. at least they did talk about the USMNT and then another round of “why Clint why?” (btw for the people saying how awesome it is that MLS it’s being brought up because of Dempsey… is negative attention really good for the league? it’s not like they’re talking about how he’s joining a team that was just outside of playoff contention but is now in the mix)

    I’m not holding my breathe that Fox will really put much effort into MLS other than what they’ve already given it in the past but I am hoping they jump in the upcoming tv negotiations and buy some MLS rights to fill their new sports relaunch.