Soccer Latino style

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Special to SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

These days TLN airs 75 per cent of their soccer games in English, but trust me if you get the chance to watch a game in Spanish or Italian it's well worth it. I had the chance to watch a few exciting games last week and you won't find me turning on an English-language soccer game if I have the choice.

If you thought say, the late Harry Caray was hard to understand at times talking about his beloved Chicago Cubs, try watching Telelatino's presentation of the world's major soccer events.

In Spanish.

Or Italian.

Like Caray, they speak a language with which I am not familar. But that doesn't make it any less entertaining. More, in fact.

Now, let's face it, there is less scoring in a soccer game, for the most part, than at a Trekkie convention. Goals are harder to come by than good quotes from Jacques Martin in his days as the Ottawa Senators' head coach. Maybe that's why the announcers put so much into it when a goal is scored.

They must have all this pent up announcer energy that is just waiting to come out. Imagine a Toronto Maple Leafs fan waiting to celebrate a Stanley Cup victory and you kind of get the idea of what I'm talking about.

Anyway, when a goal is scored, it's like a combination New Year's Eve, Mardi Gras, the restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally and the realization that one's hair is on fire. Either that or a middle-aged man passing a kidney stone. In the 2004 Copa America last July, in a game between Colombia and Uruguay, a Colombian goal was celebrated in the following fashion:

G-G-G-G-G-G-G-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L!!! That lasted for 10 seconds.

Followed by: C-O-LLLLL-OM-BIA!

Followed by: G-G-G-G-G-G-O-O-O-O-O-L-L-L-L-L-L! That lasted another eight seconds.

We're talking about 20 seconds of pure sugar for the ears, 20 seconds of oral (insert your favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor here). It was similar in Euro 2004 in a game between Sweden and Italy. Thankfully, the commentary was in Italian which you just had to know was going to be more entertaining then Swedish. (Hey, which has more pizzazz? A Ferrari or a Volvo?)

When the Azzurri's Antonio Cassano scored the first goal of the game in the 37th minute, the play-by-play guy let go with a six-second G-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-L-L-L!

Not as impressive as his Spanish-speaking counterpart's 10-second outburst, but the Italian guy rebounded with a machine-gun burst of 12 rapid-fire calls of "GOL!" The goal calls are, of course, the most remarkable part of the Telelatino's broadcasts.

Almost as impressive is the announcers find something to talk about - quite animatedly - during the entire game. Now, in terms of action, their isn't much going on for the most part. The ball is being booted about in the centre of the field, back and forth, with the occasional player going down like he's auditioning for a role in House of Wax II.

You know, they drop and writhe like they've taken a tent peg through the cranium.

The announcers roll along with a seamless commentary, though I'm guessing it's your Spanish or Italian equivalent of "Well, Harry, I bet he'd like to have that one again," or "Bob, his mouth shouldn't be writing cheques his body can't cash."

There are your usual cutaways to spectators in the stands (the Colombian fans don't look comfortable wearing toques, but it was obviously cold at the Copa America.) Oh, yeah, and you don't want to be taking your bathroom break when they pan the stands when Italy is playing. Their female supporters don't get enough face time.

There are the shots of coaches looking anguished or relieved depending on what's just caused them to cutaway to a shot of the coach.

The Italian coach, Giovanni Trapattoni (according to the graphic), was attired in a very nice looking suit (Italian, I'm guessing) while the Swedish coach looked like Bill Belichick (without the rings).

The production values of the TLN broadcasts are up to the standard you've come to expect from your National Hockey League or National Football League broadcasts including reverse angles and replays from everywhere, including a worm's-eye view. But nothing beats the goal calls.

This coming Wednesday you can also catch TLN's exclusive broadcast of the Champions League Finals and get a flavour of soccer TLN style. The game's a huge deal around soccer circles and has two of the most popular teams going head to head in Milan vs. Liverpool.

Wednesday, May 25th at 2:35p.m./et - Live

Turn the volume up and have some funnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Meg Ryan would be proud.


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