Major League Soccer announced Tuesday that a brand-new MLS-centric magazine-style television show is set to debut Friday night (7:30 pm ET on NBC Sports Network and 2 pm ET on TSN). The show will be the first of its kind to exist since many new fans have come into the league, giving each and every one of them an inside look at some of the league's best characters and personal tales.
Perhaps even better news is that this thing isn't going to be put together by some video intern with two years of college still remaining. The league's new production initiative, MLS+, went out and signed one of the most talented video directors in sports to lead the series on its maiden voyage.
Jonathan Hock, of ESPN Films' 30 for 30 fame and an eight-time Emmy Award winner, was named director of the series. Hock sat down with MLSsoccer.com's Jason Saghini ahead of Tuesday's announcement to outline his thoughts on MLS, the series and the show-making process. The interview can be seen in its entirety above.
"The fan culture [in MLS] is the thing to me that's unlike anything else in America. ... It's a way of life for the MLS fans," Hock said. "There is a commitment and an identification with the team that you don't see anywhere else.
"We did this piece about Sons of Ben, and there are no goals. It's not about, 'There's a goal, we all celebrate.' It doesn't have to do with that. It's about the experience and the commitment and the shared identity that the supporters feel with the club. You go to the game, and for 90 minutes they're on their feet, they're singing, they're chanting. It's a way of life for them."
Hock talks a great deal about the identification of MLS supporters with their club, despite his relative "newness" to the league, which gives me great hope he'll also identify and unearth some of the hidden stories that are surely buried somewhere out there.
The first episode, airing Friday night, will feature bits on New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, LA Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers and Philadelphia Union supporters group Sons of Ben.