I'm a fan of Fox Soccer Channel. Really, I am. It has gotten me through early morning weekend shifts at a radio station, it shows me the occasional Newcastle match. I even like the update shows about the Asian leagues. I feel like I'm in the minority somewhat. The general consensus when MLS left FSC was "good riddance" because the broadcast quality wasn't up to snuff with the play on the field. To some extent, I agreed. MLS deserved something better. But, at the same time the game was on. I didn't complain too much. But now, I'm going to complain. FSC is missing a huge opportunity.
This round 3 of the U.S. Open Cup has been incredible. And not just because Portland lost to Cal FC (that was like the cherry on a very delicious sundae). It was full of crazy upsets and incredible games. This very site set up an open thread where people found streams of games so we could comment on the inanity that was New England-Harrisburg, the massive upsets of Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy, and the strangeness of watching the Michigan Bucks and their indoor field. Going back further, plenty of us followed a stream showing the Atlanta Silverbacks and Georgia Revolution.
Some of these streams are good. The Sounders put on a great stream for their matches in Tuckwilla. Others were not so great: that Silverbacks-Revolution match had poor sight lines, indicated that Atlanta played kickball and the other thing streaming on the site was a 5th grade graduation.
Despite the dodgy quality of the streams though, we watched. There's a growing audience for the U.S. Open Cup. And we're relegated (to use a term being floated around a bit more these days) to online streams. Fox Soccer Channel could do themselves a huge favor, gain some good graces back with the U.S. soccer community by showing these games. And really, that's all they have to do.
I may be in the minority, but I just want to see these games on my TV. Send out three cameras and a guy with a microphone. Put these games on as cheap as you can. Just show them. That's really all I ask. Show the U.S. the Sounders' Skyfire fortress. Show us WakeMed Soccer Park where the Carolina Railhawks knocked off LA. Take us to the picturesque settings where soccer is being played in this country. Take us to Michigan, so if anything we'll believe that they play soccer indoors. Beyond seeing the games though, fans might get the chance to see players that will make the MLS ranks someday. Doing so would help grow the U.S. Soccer brand.
I still like Fox Soccer Channel, but I think it could be so much more. I also think the U.S. Open Cup could play a huge role in that. FSC might not think much of the USOC, but they could take a lesson from another high-numbered sports channel: OLN. In 2005, OLN picked up the rights to the NHL. As a hockey fan, I wasn't thrilled but at least the games were on. The initial broadcasts weren't great, but OLN, later VS, and now the NBC Sports Network continued to work on them and now put out a quality hockey broadcast. They also show college football, Indy Car Racing, and, oh yeah, MLS Soccer along with some USMNT games. OLN took a chance on something that maybe had a niche audience and turned it into a respectable sports network. There's no reason to think that FSC can't do the same.
There are differences, of course. FSC is more established at this point than when OLN took over hockey, but it can be improved. The other night, as we were commenting on the twists and turns of a crazy Round 3, FSC showed a replay of a 1992 English Premier League game. I'm sure that year's Liverpool-Manchester United clash was epic to still be played 20 years later, but there's real live soccer going on, being played all across the country.
Just show the games.