Behind The Scenes

ESPN reporters to cover both sidelines of Mexico-U.S. World Cup qualifier

ESPN reporters John Sutcliffe and Monica Gonzalez. (ESPN Images)
ESPN reporters John Sutcliffe and Monica Gonzalez. (ESPN Images)

Two bilingual ESPN reporters – Monica Gonzalez and John Sutcliffe – will be on the sidelines at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on Tuesday, March 26, beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, when the U.S. Men’s National Team face arch-rival Mexico in a key 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match.

Gonzalez, ESPN soccer reporter since 2011 after a career as pioneer member and former captain of the Mexican Women’s National Team, will focus on the U.S. Team. She will also cover tonight’s USA vs. Costa Rica match in Denver (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Sutcliffe, who lives in Mexico City, will cover the Mexican team. On Wednesday, he began daily reporting for ESPN Deportes shows – SportsCenter, Los Capitanos and Futbol Picante – from El Tri’s camp in San Pedro Sula, where Honduras plays visiting Mexico tonight, where they have not won a World Cup qualifying match in almost 20 years.

Both reporters spoke to Front Row about their assignments for the next two World Cup qualifiers for Mexico and USA.

How do you approach this week, covering two qualifying matches in different countries in five days?
MG: I care more about what happens on the soccer field. I have spoken to (USA players) Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, Herculez Gomez, Michael Bradley and (coach Jurgen) Klinsmann. These interviews provide insight on how the team will execute their plans during the match.

What are the key storylines you are following the next two matches?
MG: How will the U.S. team’s inexperienced backline handle the Costa Rica forwards tonight and/or Mexican strikers on Tuesday?
JS: Can Mexico get a “W” in a place they have not done so for a long time? Mexican striker Javier Hernandez has to step up and make a huge difference against Honduras tonight, and then at home on Tuesday (vs. USA).

What are the advantages of reporting from the sidelines in match telecasts?
MG: The ability to listen in on the communication between players and their benches, the coach and players, and sharing those key adjustments with viewers. Part of my role is being the eyes and ears on the field for the commentators in the booth.
JS: You are able to describe to the TV audience little things that are happening on the pitch that nobody but you can see since you are on the field, especially the communication between the players and their bench.

Discuss the differences between focusing on one team vs. two during a telecast.
MG: In Denver, USA vs. Costa Rica, I’ll switch positions between the two benches. The goal is to listen in on instructions each coach is sharing with his players and on-the-field communication between the players. In Mexico City, I’ll be next to (coach Jurgen) Klinsmann and the U.S. bench.
JS: Since I am the Mexican National Team reporter on ESPN Deportes, this opportunity allows me to share information I’ve gathered on a daily basis with English-language soccer fans in the U.S.

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