As if the World Cup weren't exciting enough, Fox promises to make it all the more scintillating by grooming Gus Johnson to be the voice of soccer for America.
Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reports the network is working diligently to prepare Johnson for the 2018 World Cup, but it is ever hopeful that the man famous for his college football calls and March Madness hype will be the mainstay for American viewers enjoying world football.
It seems Fox Sports president Eric Shanks was handed a tremendous opportunity with the U.S. rights for 2018 and 2022 World Cup coverage.
Rather than outsourcing to classic voices we already adore, Shanks was struck with a brilliant idea: Transform the voice that already excites into one that would be at ease in this particular arena.
But don't think this is a gimmick or one-off idea, according to Shanks:
This is not something that is temporary. This is something we are going to work at. It isn't an Olympic assignment where he does the luge for two weeks and then we don't hear from that announcer for the next four years. This is something we are serious about and something we will continue to work at. Based on the radio games and the practice games Gus has done, I think this is going to work.
Be prepared to hear Johnson call some top-shelf clashes, and be prepared to love it.
A few lucky football fans have already heard their teams get a colorful and boisterous call from Johnson.
It seems the 45-year-old already provided his voice to a dozen San Jose Earthquakes games for their radio play-by-play, as well as some practice broadcasts.
Here is just a taste of what Johnson can do in the booth.
Now extrapolate that with months of work and research, and we may have found our American fit to call this wonderful game.
The best part is we will not have to wait years to hear Johnson's version of the beautiful game, because he will soon call his first international match for the network.
Johnson will be the man in the booth for the huge Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United on Feb. 13.
From there, he will call a "Champions League match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich in London on Feb. 19 and a Premier League game between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on Feb. 24."
Additional Premier League coverage as well as the crucial FA Cup Final are also on his list of games for the season.
The good people at Fox and Johnson are the first to offer that this is an uphill journey that takes far more work than you would think.
The teams, strategy and players make for a mammoth research project for Johnson, who is stepping out of his comfort zone.
Still, this is as low-risk and high-reward as they come, because Johnson's tone in the booth is perfect for a sport still finding its footing in this nation.
We all have our favorites when watching football. Andres Cantor, Ian Darke, Martin Tyler and Ray Hudson come to mind.
All of them have their own unique voice that colors the game in such a way that there is an actual emotion when you find out they are calling the match.
Gus Johnson no doubt offers that reaction for other sports.
If Johnson can captivate the nation with his football calls as he does with other sports, Fox will certainly have our attention.
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