Watch an MLS Game With Peter Wilt

Soccer on TV

I thought it may…or may not…be of interest to watch a Major League Soccer game on television with me — one of six I watched on TV last Saturday. Call this a non-live live blog.

AsI watch this afternoon’s match between the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution, I’ll share my thoughts  with you from beginning of the pre-game show through the end of the post-game coverage.  Ready?  Here we go:

4:30 pm CT:  The final(?) USL1 Final postgame just ended on Fox Soccer Channel (Congrats to Montreal) and I’m now sitting in my living room recliner waiting for the Bosley Hair Restoration commercial to end and the MLS telecast to begin.

Christian Miles opens the broadcast:  “Live It Here”

Have BlackBerry on one arm rest and Diet Coke to the left.  Laptop is….well, on top of my lap.

4:33 pm: Game setup by Max Bretos and Christopher Sulllivan.  I used to dislike both as broadcasters, but both Max and Chris have grown on me.  I now like Max’  kitchiness and appreciate their knowledge of MLS and CONCACAF and the fact they generally keep focused on the game.  Katie Witham…hmmm….ok…lineups….what happened to the dangerous Revs?  I guess injuries and transfers have weakened them.  Katie predicts Brian McBride could be dangerous on corner kicks and free kicks.  Thanks Katie.

4:35 pm: USA vs. Costa Rica highlights.  I still have to listen to the unbelievable Honduras radio broadcast of the end of the Honduras vs. El Salvador game where they switch over to calling the USA vs. Costa Rica game in incredibly passionate voice.  I understand that Jonathan Bornstein is being hailed as a hero in Honduras!

4:36 pm: NY at RSL highlights.  Nice to see Andy Williams score even if it did go against my pick in the Pastorino Prediction League (I’m currently on top!!).  RSL is still behind Seattle in the standings.  If it stays that way at the end of the season, I win a wheel of cheese (Colby) from RSL communications maven John Koluder!

4:38 pm:  VW goal celebration commercial, the bunny hop.  Not sure that it makes me want to buy a Bug, but I do enjoy these spots.

4:40 pm: Geico sponsors pregame…they’re on the Milwaukee Wave’s sponsor hit list.  Now there’s a Panasonic commercial with four MLS stars…Did Blanco just give his jersey to the ref?  Was that Chris Klein taking liberties with Blanco’s chest?

4:43 pm: Cross promo of EPL games reminded me that satellite TV pioneer billionaire Stan Hubbard suggested an all soccer channel idea to Buzz Lagos and me at a meeting in Hubbard’s St. Paul headquarters in 1996…..alas, Hubbard’s son quickly shot it down as an idea without an audience.

4:45 pm:  There’s Shalrie Joseph….damn, I remember thinking I had successfully traded a couple draft picks for his rights in 2002 for the Fire when he was holding out prior to signing with MLS.  It seemed all parties had agreed and then Sunil Gulati overruled Steve Nicol and the rest of the Revs management to nix the deal.

4:48 pm: Brian McBride tap dances around the “Do you miss Europe?” question.  Love Brian, but not exactly a quote machine.  Waiting to hear him say ”we just have to take them one game at a time”.

4:51 pm:  When the MLS promo shows Sacha Kljestan celebrating a goal by imitating Blanco’s Aztec Warrior celebration, the word “Virtuoso” flashes across the screen…shouldn’t it say “Impressionist” or “Satirist” instead?

4:53 pm: Steve Ralston interview…one of my favorite non-Fire MLS players ever.  Tried often to get him in trade from Tampa and New England….never came close unfortunately.

4:54 pm: Just saw a Tweet saying tonight is Paul Mariner’s final game as Revs Asst. Coach before taking a similar role with Plymouth Argyle. He always reminded me of the Hanson Brother in Slap Shot played by former hockey pro Steve Carlson.  Paul will be missed in New England.

4:54 pm: Is that Leslie?  It is.  Just saw Milwaukee’s own Leslie Osborne uncredited in a commercial for Golme.  An hour ago, I helped Red Stars GM Marcia McDermott put the finishing touches on a contract offer to the WPS free agent in efforts to bring Leslie back to the midwest.  She’d be a great addition, but the Red Stars are up against the salary cap as we’re also trying to keep Cristiane, so I’m not sure if the offer will be good enough for Leslie.

5:04 pm: Mrs. Livingston just jumped in my lap as lineups were posted. I like the Fire’s starters.  Blanco on bench to start should help in the 2nd half.  Rolfe coming inside from the right, Pappa on the left with Nyarko and McBride up top will be dangerous.

5:06 pm:  Game on. Jorge Gonzalez in the center.

5:08 pm: Patriots logos, football lines and field turf….ugh, ick, arrrgh.

5:09 pm:  Max says FSC studio host Todd Grisham is out due to his wedding. I was with Todd in a hotel bar once when the bartender almost started hyperventilating and begged him for his autograph due to his WWE duties.

5:11 pm: Reis goal kick shows scattered crowd at Gillette which puts most of the fans on one side’s lower level.  I hate that stadium…maybe, because the Fire ended so many seasons there.

5:15 pm:  Nice Charlie Davies 9th min tribute by Revs fans for the Boston College product. Here are some tributes for Ashley Roberta, the woman who died in the crash.

5:18 pm The football lines do serve a purpose on offsides situations…

5:19 pm: Sullivan talks about Rolfe and Prideaux leaving Fire after this season….who else I wonder…

5:20 pm: Jon Busch tries to get tall as a header skims just over the bar…Jon has a lot of good goalkeeper attributes, but height isn’t one of them.

5:22 pm: Captain CJ Brown deservedly gets his moment from Cris and Max.

5:23 pm: The proximity of the field boards to the Revs banner signage causes clutter that looks a bit third worldish.

5:27 pm: The lines remind me that the addition of football lines in the fall at Soldier Field caused the soccer field to shrink by four yards (116 yards instead of 120 yards at the beginning of the season), so the 18 yard box lines would match up with the NFL 10 yard lines. Noticed the Revs match up the 18 yard box with the 15 yard lines meaning the field is VERY short (106 yards).

5:33 pm: Heaps gets away with a leg kick to Prideaux’s neck.  Jay’s always been a guy Fire fans have loved to hate.

5:40 pm: Toronto beat RSL tonight and, for now, moves ahead of New England for the 8th and final playoff spot. I picked TFC in that game to make me 2-2 so far this week.  I’ve got the Fire in this game.

5:45 pm: Arrrrgh….Rolfe chip nearly goes in.  Cat is back on my lap.

5:51 pm: Halftime. Scoreless.  Not the best soccer.  I’ll choose to blame the short field and the playing surface and not the strategy of both teams to avoid giving up the first goal at ALL costs.

5:56 pm: Crowd shots….looking for my Twitter friend @Hoover_Dam.  Don’t see her, but I see her handiwork.  She does very good work.

6:00 pm: 6 on 6 questions at halftime with Kevin Alston and Jon Busch. Pretty lame questions. Do they only ask them six and use them all or do they ask more and use the six best responses?  I suspect it’s the former, but should be the latter.

6:06 pm: The American Airlines spot with Milos was funny the first 312 times i saw it.  Since then, not so much.

6:08 pm: 2nd half starts, no subs.

6:10/6:12 pm Buschy gets caught out of goal twice, but Revs fail to capitalize…twice

6:11 pm: Chris makes a Lubos Kubik reference!! I love Lubos.  Don’t tell Piotr or Chris, but I think Lubos is my fave Fire player ever.

6:12 pm. Mariner and Nicol shown standing on the sideline drinking a beverage…coffee?

6:13/6:15 pm: Fire defensive breakdowns unconverted by Revs….again and again. Our fortune’s bound to end.

6:16 pm: Which of the yellow lines is out of bounds?  GREAT shot of @Hoover_Dam’s artwork on a Revs throw-in!

6:19 pm: And another giveaway and another missed opportunity again.  Does anyone want to win?

6:20 pm: First sub of game.  Revs bring on Castro for Mansally in the 58th min.

6:23 pm: Fire gets its first good chance(s) of 2nd half and takes too much time.

Perhaps the Revs whining in this picture in August, 2008 paid off last weekend when Referee Jorge Gonzalez inexplicably carded Chris Rolfe for a dive instead of sending off Matt Reis for his clear penalty.

Perhaps the Revs whining in this picture in August, 2008 paid off last weekend when Referee Jorge Gonzalez inexplicably carded Chris Rolfe for a dive instead of sending off Matt Reis for his clear penalty.

6:24 pm: Breakaway Rolfe, Reis trips him…..PENALTY!!!!   OMG. Jorge BLEW it.  Instead of a 100% penalty, he calls a dive and yellows Rolfe.  Well, that could be the game and the center decided it. Mark Geiger similarly incorrectly gave Columbus a draw on a bad penalty call in Chicago last month that cost the Fire two points and now this.  ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

6:30 pm: Momentum went Revs way after missed penalty call.   Now Blanco comes in for Pappa in 68th minute.

6:31 pm: Dube’s flick just wide of goal and slips past a group of armed men with capes and funny hats.

6:32 pm: FSC shows promo for next Fire game vs. Chivas USA Thursday night.  Will be induction night for Fire legend Chris Armas. Looking forward to seeing Chris again and welcoming him into the Ring of Fire.

6:34 pm: Fire win guarantees Chicago a playoff spot for 11th time in 12 years.

6:37 pm: Is Calen Carr available? Yes he is.  Maybe for Baggio?

6:40 pm: Twitter’s burning up with angry fans (Chicago and neutral fans) about the poor Gonzalez decision non-PK call.

6:42 pm: BAGGGGIOOO!!!   Shoulda, coulda, woulda….great breakout by Blanco to McBride to Baggio who just missed connecting with Brian’s cross.

6:44 pm: Typical solid outing by Brandon Prideaux. Always gutty and tough.

6:47 pm: Shalrie’s boot to Blanco’s back.  Ouch.

6:49 pm: 88th min…this result is going to feel like a loss….a defeat to the ref.  Sigh.  C’mon Fire.  Get a goal.

6:51 pm: How many Revs players have yellow shoes? Wells Thompson, Kenny Mansally, anyone else?

6:52 pm: Carr for Rolfe in 90th mn.  2 mins stoppage time.

6:53 pm.  Daniel Woolard back from injury subs for Nyarko.

6:55 pm: Christopher Sullivan says “Tremendous point on the road for the Fire.”   Why don’t I feel that way?

6:55 pm: That’s it.  FT 0-0. Damn.  I guess a point at Gillette is ok, and we can still clinch a playoff spot later tonight with a little help, but we should have had the full three, which would’ve really helped get the second seed in the East.

6:57 pm: Post-game interview with Chris Rolfe and he says Reiss pulled his arm back, but caught Chris with his elbow.

6:59 pm: Hey, that’s my buddy Dave Johnson wrapping up the broadcast with the recorded “No reproduction permitted without the express written consent of Major League Soccer” message.

7:03 pm:  Steve Nicol interview.  He said, “We’re very disappointed.” and then some other stuff in a Scottish brogue that I couldn’t understand.

7:06 pm: Denis Hamlett interview: Very good response to the non-PK call. “What, you trying to get me fined?” And then went on to make it clear he believed it was the wrong call, but was pretty diplomatic about it….and he successfully avoided the fine.

7:14 pm: Matt Reis ignoring the fact that he dove into Rolfe’s path: “I didn’t have much contact with him and he went down easily.  It was nice to get a call.”

7:20 pm: Jay Heaps: “If you ask me, the referee did a terrific job tonight.  Jorge did a fabulous job.”  Seriously, that’s what Jay said.  God, I’m glad he’s hated by Fire fans…and for good measure, Katie instinctively agrees with Heaps by saying, “Yes he did.”  Another reason to be happy about this.

Well, that probably wasn’t the best game for me to “watch” with you, but they can’t all be like this.  Hope you enjoyed “watching” the game with me — pardon my obvious Fire bias and I’ll be back in this space next week.

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