The U.S. national team will play Guatemala on Tuesday night (10 p.m. ET) in the second of six matches in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying. But unless you are among the hearty souls at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City or have found a reliable pirated video feed online, watching the match isn’t going to be as simple as turning on ESPN.
To review: The Guatemalan federation sold the rights to a media group that worked a deal with a company that will present the match in the United States on pay-per-view. There wasn’t much the U.S. Soccer Federation or its broadcast partners ESPN and NBC could do to prevent it, outside of paying a fee beyond what they say they were reasonably willing to spend. (The same scenario might unfold for the other two away qualifiers in this round this fall.)
So what’s a fan to do Tuesday?
*Purchase the game for $29.95 on cable or satellite through iN Demand, DirecTV, DISH Network or Avail-TVN. (On my Comcast digital system, I found it on Channel 501.)
*Purchase the game for $29.95 for online viewing at ustream.tv
*Join your fellow supporters at one of the many pubs and restaurants around the country that will show the match (for, in most cases, a cover fee of much less than $29.95). Ten locations in the Washington-Baltimore area are participating, including Fado in D.C. and Annapolis, Summers in Arlington and Lucky Bar near Dupont Circle. All the local and national spots are listed here, with a likelihood of more being added before gametime.
Both English and Spanish announcers are being provided. The English pay-per-view announcing team, which will call the action from a U.S. studio, is Joe Tolleson on play-by-play and Shaka Hislop on color. Tolleson has worked in a variety of sports on the local and national levels, including soccer. Hislop, a Howard University graduate, enjoyed a long and successful goalkeeping career in England and played for Trinidad & Tobago’s national team before joining ESPN in 2008.