The NSCAA Convention: Yanqui Whisperings, King of Commentators

Subscribing to the opinion that watching Fox Soccer Channel’s live broadcast from the NSCAA Convention represented some kind of desperate, obsessive-nerd low, I plans to skip it.  I don’t know what I thought they’d do.   Maybe I worried they would sit in on the seminars and whisper commentary into the camera, which is something like reading the scripts to your favorite TV show instead of watching it.

That’s not what happened, of course, something I discovered courtesy of a pile of laundry (I watch TV while I fold and, whoo-ey, there wasn’t shit on TV).  No, I got to see Christopher Sullivan get up in the grill of United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati when they testily rehashed the soccer debate concerning aesthetics versus results; my thanks to the dude from Cleveland who formulated the barely coherent question that inspired the moment.  Sunil was only one of the few “soccer celebs” I caught during the broken up half hour worth of the show I watched – all I could honestly handle, in spite of somewhat enjoying the interview with Frank Yallop.

Still, I took two things from watching.  First, and apropos to yesterday’s post on the U.S. Men’s team needing more games ahead of World Cup qualifying, Gulati suggested U.S. fans can expect at least two more friendlies in the first half of 2008; he penciled in May as the likely time, too late for my tastes, but better than a kick in the head.  He also speculated that Bradley would start fielding something like the line-up we’ll use in qualifying during the February 6 game against Mexico.  This saddens me a bit, because I’m not yet ready to settle on starters.  More important, though, Mexico seems like a great chance to see how some of those bubble players handle a super-charged game, something the U.S. Men reliably get against a Mexican side.

The second item is more trivial: GOD, I love Max Bretos.  And I love him for the precise reason that everyone else hates him.  His talent for awkward questions, for conversation-stopping compliments, are unrivaled in professional sports commentary.  Who else would start an interview – this one with the San Jose Earthquakes Frank Yallop – by telling the interviewee, “You look like you’ve lost weight.  Not that you were fat before.”  Who else would note the tension between Sullivan and Gulati by jocularly noting, “I thought we’d have to separate you two?”  Who else wrap the same segment by saying to Gulati, “You took some rapid-fire questions, but came out, as always, smelling like a rose?” – a phrase that translates loosely as, “it sure seems like you stepped in some shit this year; way to cover it up with scented spray!”

If it were up to me, Bretos would bring that gidddy, foot-in-mouth awkwardness to every soccer-related event.  It gives you something else to listen for when the action gets slow.