There’s one hard and fast rule about soccer in the United States: Landon Donovan = ratings gold. ESPN knows it and the page view numbers of websites all over the globe know it thanks to him not heading to this World Cup. However, that hasn’t stopped ESPN from finding a way to involve the giant of American soccer.
On Wednesday, the worldwide leader in sports announced Landycakes would be joining them as a commentator. In fact, he’ll be diving in head first, joining the ESPN soccer crew for their World Cup Preview show on the same day (3p.m. ET).
In a twist of irony, Donovan still won’t be going to Brazil, as he’ll be a commentator from ESPN’s Los Angeles studios.
However, what may be the best bit from all of this is ESPN’s spin on why they are adding Donovan to the fold (via their press release):
“Adding Landon to our ESPN roster just before the World Cup is a coup because he knows the United States team better than anyone having played such a huge role in its success, especially at this event,” said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. “Landon is also one of this country’s biggest sports stars and we believe that he will help attract even more fans to our month-long coverage.”
Either that or Adding Donovan is all about attempting to capitalize on the furor over him not being included in the team heading to Brazil in the first place.
It could be awkward television gold for those watching at home though—because nothing says awkward like the guy who was just cut from the team commentating objectively on said team.
However, it appears fans are really looking forward to his commentary (sarcasm alert).
Can't wait to see Landon Donovan be weird, overly emotional and jingoistic on ESPN's #WC2014 coverage.
— Lee Pacchia (@leepacchia) June 11, 2014
Problem is, those who have ever heard Donovan give an interview know he isn’t exactly the most exciting personality in the world. In fact, he is downright boring to listen to when giving an interview. Now, it isn’t because what he has to say is boring, but it’s all about the delivery.
Call me crazy, but when you’re on air you kind of need to bring some excitement to the mix as a commentator. Donovan will need a crash course in personality if he is to succeed in an on-camera roll.
The saving grace in adding Donovan to the mix could be that he has never been one to shy away from sharing exactly what is on his mind. No one will ever confuse Donovan with someone that is modest when asked for his opinion.
As long as he has cart blanche to speak his mind, Donovan as a commentator at this World Cup could equal increased ratings—and at ESPN that’s all that really matters.