Stadium shot

PBPP: PPL Park, Heading to SA

As I head over to South Africa on Wednesday for ESPN Radio, I wanted to share a few thoughts with Union fans on a few topics, starting with PPL Park, and finishing with the World Cup.

Let’s start with the Union’s new home.

I watched the game on television on Sunday, and was amazed at the beauty of the stadium. With the Delaware River in the background, this is a spectacular setting for soccer. Union fans were loud and strong in spirit, with temperatures in the nineties.

I had been on a tour of the stadium a few months back and knew what it would look like when it was finished, but seeing it on Sunday was still something to behold. There might not be a finer looking stadium in MLS.

Good to see the team respond to the crowd and get a much needed win. Sebastien Le Toux’s work rate continues to amaze people, and he’s not alone. No team works harder on the field than the Philadelphia Union. Also good to see Chris Seitz continue his improved play. What a huge stop on that Pat Noonan penalty kick.

I can’t wait to broadcast my first game from PPL Park.  I’ll have to wait until mid-July, post World Cup, when the Union play Toronto.

Moving from the PPL Park Opener to the World Cup, could there be any more controversy in this tournament? I’ve long been a believer in instant replay in some form in all sports, even more so now after just the past two days. I was calling the England vs Germany game on ESPN Radio when Frank Lampard’s shot went off and under the crossbar, and the ball completely crossed the line.

Had it counted as it should've, it was a 2-2 game. Say what you want, but that call changed the entire game.

Mexico battled Argentina on the same day, and Carlos Tevez gets a goal while he is clearly offside. Same story here; the blown call is a game changer. Mexico became unraveled, and the Argentinians took over.

As stubborn as FIFA is, I predict we will have some kind of instant replay by the 2014 World Cup. We have the technology to get this right. FIFA knows that money talks. If I were the TV execs, I would all get together and let soccer’s governing body know that if they don’t go to some kind of replay mechanism, the days of the big rights fees will be over. Then, you might see a change in attitude. Let’s just hope that we don’t see another huge mistake at the World Cup Final.

So off I go to Johannesburg on Wednesday. Looking forward to calling the quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final from site. Up to this point Tommy Smyth and I have been calling games off the monitor in Bristol. It will be great to see the passion of South Africa first hand as hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Give us a listen if you get a chance. All of the games are available on ESPN Radio and ESPN

See you soon at PPL Park.

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