One of the most intriguing storylines throughout the next several months in sports media will be the landscape of Fox’s soccer coverage. In the PG (post-Gus) Era, Fox Sports is faced with rebooting their presentation of the beautiful game. And with this the end of a World Cup cycle, the network has the opportunity to add some new faces to their starting lineup to bolster their ranks.
In a major move for Fox Sports to bolster their soccer lineup ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, multiple sources tell Awful Announcing that the network will imminently be signing two former USMNT standouts – Alexi Lalas and Brad Friedel. We’ve been tracking Lalas’ move to Fox since September while World Soccer Talk had reported Fox’s interest in Lalas and Friedel in October.
Lalas has been a mainstay at ESPN for the last three World Cups. He joined the network full-time in 2009 as a lead studio analyst for many of their soccer rights from MLS and USMNT coverage to international tournaments. Lalas would represent the first major defection from ESPN’s soccer ranks to Fox Sports as the World Cup moves networks beginning next year. Notably, Taylor Twellman decided to re-sign with Bristol after Fox made a massive push to bring him aboard.
Friedel’s signing with the network was expected after he spent several international tournaments in the studio with Fox. He can be deployed both in the studio and in the broadcast booth as he’s been heard recently on EPL telecasts with his unique Anglo-American accent from his long career in England.
Friedel and Lalas bring a lot of attributes to the table that Fox is desperately seeking ahead of taking the World Cup baton from ESPN. They provide the pedigree from their playing careers (178 USMNT caps combined), name recognition from decades on the American soccer scene, and valuable television experience. Especially with the departure of Brian McBride at the end of the year, Fox Sports has a thin bench of analysts at the moment. And with Fox Sports adding MLS and Bundesliga rights as well as international soccer last year, they need to make several new additions to keep pace with the avalanche of soccer rights they’ll be televising in 2015.
Lalas and Friedel can immediately slide in beside host Rob Stone and give Fox a very respectable studio to lead the network’s soccer coverage into the new age.
Fox Sports declined comment on the story.