Before we get to today’s “game” there’s been a lot of talk lately about NBC’s decision to introduce the “Premier League Pass” package starting this fall, and I’ve gotten enough inquiries on the twitter machine that I feel compelled to touch on it quickly.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here are the basics: a lot of games that were previously available for free on the Extra Time channels (130 in total) will now be made available only via a premium streaming service that will cost you $50. A lot of people were mad online about it this week.
I was not one of them.
Why? Well for one, NBC has done a fantastic job televising the EPL here in the US and I don’t think it is overstating it to say the network has single-handedly raised the bar for soccer coverage in this country, full stop. Just think for a moment about how we used to have to watch games on sketchy ass Russian websites that gave your computer internet-herpes supplemented by a few games here and there on FOX Soccer Plus. As much as I loved me some Max Bretos and Terri Leigh back in the day, it is night as day when compared to how NBC is doing things.
That is a long way of saying that NBC has built up some “trust capital” with yours truly for the time being.
NBC’s decision to make us pay more for the same product/service is a dangerous one. They risk drawing the ire of a fanbase that is notoriously easy to piss off and not good about forgiving for perceived slights. (For example, I’ve still not forgiven FOX for making me listen to Gus Johnson – as great as he is calling other sports – babble about “sideline throws” while I was trying to enjoy a Bayern Munich/Real Madrid Champions League semifinal in 2014.)
Here’s the thing though: NBC is still going to show all the “big” games on their regular channels (NBCSN, NBC, CNBC, USA, etc) and $50 amortized over the course of a 9-month season is like $5. I am personally willing to pay $5 per month extra for what I consider to be a very good product. Another way to think about it is if NBC had offered this arrangement from the very beginning absolutely NOBODY would be complaining at all.
So I am willing to go along with the “premium service” without whining – for the time being. NBC has only earned a finite amount of “trust capital” so if their coverage does not continue to improve or if this turns into a slippery slope situation where they start charging for more games, I absolutely reserve the right to get my pitchfork and lead the online mutiny against them. For now though it is $5/month, so let’s not get our panties too twisted***.
Okay, glad we’ve come to an understanding on that. Now on to today’s game.
**I have not received any funding or sponsorship money/goods from NBCUniversal… but I’m certainly all ears to offers – DMs are open.
USA vs Ghana
Time: 4:00 pm CT
Location: East Hartford, Connecticut
By popular demand, let’s run through the FAQs…
So does this game matter?
No, not even a little bit. Hence why guys like Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron and most everybody else that played against the likes of Mexico earlier this month will not be present.
Then why should I care?
In the grand scheme of things, you really shouldn’t care too much about the final result. As nonsensical as it may sound when talking about a team game like soccer, impressive individual performances will, in the grand scheme of things, be a lot more important to watch for.
So why are they even playing the game?
This is a warm up for the Gold Cup that starts next week (opening game vs Panama on July 8), and gives Bruce Arena a chance to take a look at a ton of new guys for whom this will be their big shot to stand out and perhaps grab a roster spot in the more important World Cup qualifiers coming up in the fall.
Here is the full 23-man roster for this game and the three opening round Gold Cup games (after which Arena has an option to make changes, and probably will bring in some more known quantities):
I am particularly interested to watch for how guys like defender Matt Miazga, midfielder Kenny Saief (newly tied to US after choosing us over Israel) and striker Dom Dwyer look if and when given the shot.
ESPN will no doubt play up the “US looking to get redemption for the 2006 and 2010 World Cup losses” and “Ghana looking to get redemption for the 2014 World Cup loss” but in truth those games have nothing to do with today’s tilt.
Shame on you if you really were hoping for an in-depth scouting report on the Black Stars for a game that barely matters. All things considered they are not as good as you remember, and have struggled in African WCQ so far sitting third in a four-team group. Striker David Accam (Chicago Fire) and winger Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht) are creative and dangerous… but by FAR my biggest concern is that Accam not get injured so the Fire can continue their almost certain march towards the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup double.
We’ll probably win but honestly who knows. Honestly, doesn’t matter. But what the hey, I’ll say USMNT to win 3-1.
And there we have it. Reminder: focus on form over function. Back tomorrow with a quick preview of Confederations Cup final. Stay woke.