As much as I was looking forward to the Houston Dynamo season getting underway, I was nearly as excited about the debut of MLS on the NBC Sports Channel. The league signed a new television deal with NBC Sports this off-season, leaving behind the chronic underachievers as FOX Soccer who treated MLS like a third-class citizen at best.
NBC Sports has been rolling out some excellent promos for their coverage since the deal was announced, so expectations were very high going in to Saturday's broadcast of the FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls match. For my money, they more than lived up to the hype. The quality of the broadcast was top notch with excellent on-screen graphics, the camera work and production decisions were great and the commentary was as good as I knew it would be with Arlo White on the call.
The addition of Kyle Martino as an active color commentator located on the field, rather than the booth had me curious as to how it would work, but the two quickly alleviated any fears that the system wouldn't work. White brought Martino in to the broadcast throughout the match and I didn't hear any obvious collisions between the two new co-workers. Martino provided a nice balance of fun and information and I especially enjoyed when a ball was played out close to him in the first half and he commented that he almost got his first touch of the day.
Arlo White was impeccable as always after spending two season as the play-by-play voice of the Seattle Sounders. There was a reason Sounders fans were genuinely bummed to lose White to NBC, but it's the gain of the network and MLS fans everywhere.
Sure some will bitch about his accent and claim they don't like his voice, but if they give him and chance and pay attention to what he's saying, they will hopefully be won over by his intelligence and the amazing level of preparation he does to call a match. There's no American soccer play-by-play commentator on his level and NBC was right to hire White for their broadcast.
If you missed the broadcast, be sure to check out the Rapids vs. Union match from PPL Park next weekend and let me know what you thought of the league's new broadcast partner. The Dynamo make their debut on the NBC Sports Channel when their travel to face the Sounders on March 23rd.