I spent all of yesterday driving from Sacramento, CA to Phoenix, AZ, which meant that I was reduced to following the day’s slate of World Cup action through the wonderful but these days wholly and tragically underserved medium of radio.
There was a time when radio was the pinnacle of football broadcasting — I recall my the oft-told story of my grandfather watching the “Magical Magyars” of the 1950s on television (which was one of the first televisions in their village, mind) by turning down the volume and turning on the radio commentary of the legendary broadcaster György Szepesi, who was often called “The 12th Man” of the team as their literal voice and conduit. This was apparently a common habit in the diaspora, especially in the early days of this newfangled televisual technology. Szepesi would later earn the Guinness record for longest career as a sports commentator, too, but I digress.
These days, you’re lucky if you get a dedicated radio crew. Most times, you either get regular commentators used to describing a match that everyone can see. In fact, increasingly, you just get the TV commentary piped into your earlobes. I’m looking at you, SiriusXM FC and FOX.
In any case, all that is to say that beyond knowing the scores, I couldn’t really tell you what happened in the shot-shy 0-0 draw between Uruguay and South Korea — the fourth of the tournament already in just the first week! — in the narrow 1-0 win for Switzerland over Cameroon — which featured a lone goal by a Cameroon-born, Swiss-raised player, Breel Embolo — or in the madcap 3-2 win for Portugal over Ghana, which is certainly worth watching for the highlights alone. The commentary I was privy to most definitely didn’t do that game an ounce of justice, especially the last 20 or so minutes.
I did perk up, though not in a good way, when the Brazil vs. Serbia commentator mentioned, seemingly off-hand, that “Thiago Silva has stayed down behind the play” — and then proceeded to not say anything else about it again! I took that to mean that presumably Silva was able to carry on, which I was able to confirm visually later on as well. Phew!
Oh, and Richarlison scored a stupendous goal to complete his brace in that 2-0 win for the tournament favorites, which really should’ve been a lot more lopsided. Expect that goal to show up in every post-tournament compilation and montage and perhaps earn Goal of the Tournament in the end as well.