It was curious when Gus Johnson landed a gig last season calling Major League Soccer games on the radio for the San Jose Earthquakes. The reason came to light recently, when Sports Illustrated revealed that the celebrated announcer was shifting to soccer for Fox, which will broadcast the 2018 World Cup.
On Wednesday, Johnson will do play-by-play for a Champions League match between storied clubs Real Madrid and Manchester United. That's a leap most MLS players could never dream of making.
Johnson's unbridled enthusiasm earned him revered status calling March Madness contests and more, and there's great anticipation of his first goal call. But soccer doesn't always lend itself to the same level of drama; it's also full of subtleties and specialized terms that purists can't live without and many American sports fans can't stand.
Whether he's ready or not, Johnson has a chance to bridge that gap, using his passion to make soccer more accessible to mainstream fans and to breathe life into a game that often gets caught up in a swirl of its own nuance.
- Craig Stouffer