This weekend was a special one in MLS history.
No, there weren't a ton of goals, but the coverage of the first-ever #RivalryDay from NBC and the NBC Sports Network was unlike anything the League has seen in its history, and we were lucky enough to tag along for the whole ride.
How does the old saying go? There ain't no business like show business? After seeing first-hand the work that went into the day's production, we can definitely confirm.
After everyone was set up, dressed and ready to go, it was time for a little rehearsal. Had the cameras been rolling, you wouldn't have known the difference, this stuff is second nature for these guys.
Just before the end of the first half, we headed up to the booth. Way up. Arlo was basically on the roof of RBA, accompanied by vast amounts of note cards laid out on the desk in front of him that apparently he never needs to use.
He makes it look easy, but you probably knew that already. We were lucky enough to catch him just before another one of New York's fizzled chances.
During a typical match, White is up in the booth while Thaler is watching the match from the set, taking notes on major moments that occur during the run of play.
Martino's set up is a bit more tricky.
As the lead analyst he's situated right between the team benches, armed with a monitor of the broadcast, a headset and most importantly his own eyes and ears to tell you exactly what he's seeing and hearing on pitch level.
There can be distractions. When the broadcasts first started, it was usually assistant coaches and substitutes who weren't aware that Martino was actually on the air. They'd be tugging on their buddy's shirt while he's trying to describe what happened during the latest chance. On Saturday, it was a guy in the stands who screamed "MARTINO! MARTINO!" for, no joke, 45 minutes straight. Fun times.
As the final whistle sounded, discussions were well underway between Thaler and the day's producer, Shaw Brown, to prepare for the show's postgame interview.
There had been no goalscorer in the match, thanks in large part to the heroics of Bill Hamid. Thierry Henry had done the pregame and while there was some talk about having Dax McCarty on, in the end Hamid was the only choice.
Literally, as soon as the lights went down and Hamid exited the set, we were in the van and on the way to Stamford. So, what do three of North America's preeminent soccer broadcasters talk about when they have an hour to kill on a car ride? Lots of soccer, it turns out.
We didn't have any goals in the Sporting Kansas City - Chicago Fire match, but that doesn't mean the crew wasn't watching.
Roughly halfway through the ride legit preparations for the Breakaway show became the focus. A four-hour rehearsal was executed earlier in the week, but there's only so much you can do to prepare for coverage of simultaneous live sporting events. At this point, we had news.
At the time, that news focused around Henry, trying to determine exactly what his status was following the match and how it might play into the show that evening.
With about 55 minutes to air, our crew pulled up to the gorgeous new NBC studios in Stamford. The guys had to rush inside to get setup with makeup and suits, but there was still some time to savor the moment.
Finally, after a day of rehearsal, calling an entire match earlier in the afternoon and a car ride spanning three states, the lights came on. Go time.
At halftime of RSL-Colorado, we snuck out of the studio and headed for the control room, where Brown was running the show along with coordinating producer, Pierre Moossa. We had no clue exactly what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch it all go down.
You might think two-and-a-half hours of desk analysis and highlights would be a slog for these guys, but the time flew by. By the end, everyone was surprisingly fresh and ready for another go-around again someday.
What a BLAST!!! Thanks for all the love everyone. First attempt at #BreakAwayfelt pretty good. You guys are the best Jerry, the BEST!— Kyle Martino (@kylemartino) March 17, 2013