Wow, two soccer articles in one day here at AA? It really must be the middle of the dog days of summer. Anyways, the clip you’re about to see comes from one of the many soccer friendlies (exhibitions) from around the country featuring Manchester City from the EPL against the LA Galaxy from MLS. These Summer of Soccer friendlies are a great way to expose American fans to the best players in the world while serving as a tune-up to the upcoming EPL season.
Apparently though, someone forgot to tell Man City striker Mario Balotelli to treat the friendly very seriously. In the first half, Balotelli tried a ludicrous attempt at a spinning backheel goal (perhaps inspired by this) instead of putting away an easy finish. Naturally, the attempted trick shot missed the target and led to teammate Edin Dzeko undoubtedly dreaming of strangling the young striker on the pitch.
Immediately, the troubled Balotelli (his checkered off-field history makes a young Randy Moss seem mature) was substituted by his manager, Roberto Mancini. And while the “row” (British for argument, apparently) between player and manager is consuming the British press, ESPN announcers Glenn Davis and former MLS MVP Taylor Twellman weren’t shy about ripping Not So Super Mario on the spot…
Twellman: “Are you kidding me?”
Davis: “Good on Roberto Mancin!”
It’s rare to hear announcers take sides on such a public spat between a player and coach. In fact, it used to be fairly rare to hear announcers criticize players so forcefully at all. An example of an announcer rightly calling out a player happened in this year’s NBA Playoffs when Mike Tirico lampooned Andrew Bynum’s cheap shot against JJ Barea.
Kudos to Davis and Twellman for bringing it strong and letting their opinions be known immediately on such a high-profile incident. Perhaps a trend is developing where announcers aren’t as afraid to be too critical of the players they’re covering. Even though it was only an exhibition, Balotelli does come off looking foolish and childish, even if the Guardian (an excellent UK soccer source) just wants us all to lighten up a little bit. Maybe next time Balotelli can try a Scorpion Kick while he’s at it.