What counts as a big game for American soccer fans? Over the weekend, world soccer provided multiple opportunities to answer that question. Milan - Inter Milan, Real Madrid - Barcelona, Club America - Chivas.... All three easily qualify as big games, arguably bigger than the leagues where those clubs play.
The networks showing these games certainly want to argue they should be on every soccer fan's schedule. Yet, all of them were part of a veritable shout of soccer across multiple channels. Count the online options, and 80 games were available over the weekend. Eighty games, the equivalent of (do the math) days if you tried to watch every minute. Within that glut of soccer are not just the clasicos and the derbies. Major League Soccer's schedule included a game on broadcast television and the latest installment of how many people will show up to boo Portland at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.
Other North American sports aren’t the example. There aren't enough games for one thing. For another, there are limits on what games are available nationally and no market for showing games on same-day delay. What we've seen so far this Fall are soccer networks more than willing to show as many games as possible.
Where this leaves the viewer is a good question. Everyone has to down select, even for leagues they follow closely. This isn't optimal, but at least it gives fans more choice. In the era between the highlight shows only and channels devoted primarily to soccer, there was always the risk of the game of the week being a dog. Those that are old enough to remember ESPN's old Sunday night Premier League game probably don't reminisce about tepid draws and questionable choices.
Compared to that, it's hard to criticize the current availability of games. Then again, if we're being fair this isn't the best way to get soccer across to an American audience. Every weekend brings the obvious choices for games that are worth our time. With them come the risks, the games that on the surface simply don't offer enough for transatlantic broadcasts. It's an antiquated way to word things in the age of instant global access, but some games probably should stay local.
Corner Rating: (with 1 dismal ratings from too many games or 11 the true clasicos able to breakthrough and win in the ratings) 8.
Last Week's Corner: Houston isn't getting enough done on the field to match our enthusiasm, so we're knocking them down to 5.
And The Week Before That: Since it's worth updating, England's manager talking about his squad while taking the subway drops our rating from a 4 to a 3.