Blog: Guzan on NBC coverage and why US fans should back Villa
26th Aug 2013
NBC have spent big on the Barclays Premier League, paying a reported $250m over three years to bring soccer into the homes of families across the pond.
The US broadcasting giants have also taken into account the fact that some supporters may enjoy and follow the game - but have no specific side to back week after week.
To make it easier, they have created a special online feature to encourage folks to follow a certain team.
After informing Guzan of the innovative initiative, our new No.1 insisted: "Why would you pick anyone but Villa?"
He said: "Listen, it's so easy for people who aren't familiar with the game to just go ahead and choose Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City or Arsenal, anyone out of the so-called big four.
"But what I would say categorically is that Aston Villa is a massive club with a huge, huge history and tradition!
"I think Americans can relate to that. Look at where I am from. There's the Chicago Cubs. They have a massive following because of their standing in the game.
"There's total respect there and Villa have that.
"The club here has passion among the staff and the fans. There's excitement about our young team and where we're going. And there's quite simply no better place to be on a Saturday than Villa Park, especially when it's rocking. It's just a brilliant club.
"Look at the trophy cabinet too - we've won everything there is to win and we're fiercely proud of that as a club. It's just a great club to be involved in. I'm sure fans in the US - old and new - appreciate that."
Guzan has been receiving feedback from his family and friends in Chicago about the quality of the coverage on NBC - and it's far to say they've been wowed.
Fronted by former Setanta and BBC presenter Rebecca Lowe, studio guests in Stamford, Connecticut include former players like Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe while Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux are match analysts with Gary Lineker as special contributor.
They've all impressed greatly, according to Guzan's compatriots across the pond.
He continued: "It's been brilliant. Talking to my mates and my family back home, they say the coverage has been absolutely fantastic.
"They say it's the best there has ever been in terms of the exposure of soccer in the States. Hats off to NBC for that.
"The multi-million dollar deal shows the intent of the broadcasters but it also shows the market of football and how much it's growing. It genuinely is. As an American, it's fantastic to see.
"NBC in my eyes is probably the biggest broadcasting group in the US. For them to make a commitment like that over the next three years is truly brilliant.
"It's brilliant for the viewers tuning in too. It's only going to help the sport grow.
"The presenters and analysts are excellent, too. I have already done one or two interviews about the new season and it's been great to be involved in.
"The feedback is good because these guys honestly know what they're talking about. That's refreshing.
"Sometimes - without throwing anyone under the bus - the commentary for certain games back in the day when I was still in the US and playing in the MLS wasn't always the best.
"That was lack of knowledge and trying to force the American terminology on to a world's game. It just wasn't happening!
"To have people who know what they're talking about and understand the game makes it so good. It will only continue to grow. The country is massive as everyone knows. So the market is there to keep growing the sport at a fast pace."
NBC have certainly tapped into the differences between US sports like baseball, basketball and American Football in their promos before the season-start, most notably Hollywood actor Jason Sudeikis - star of Horrible Bosses and Hall Pass - playing Coach Lasso, a US manager in charge of Tottenham - and doing a horrible job at understanding the rules and terminology of our great game.
Guzan continued: "It's great banter! Being over here and hearing the comments he's saying, it's so funny on one hand but also so true on another.
"He's a great actor and that was fantastic to watch. I really enjoyed it.
"He's seriously high-profile! For him to be involved shows the interest and the intent. He's not going to be cheap!"
Those TV spots, aired on NBC and also uploaded to YouTube, certainly helped bring football to the attention of the US public in the weeks leading up to Week One of the Barclays Premier League season.
And they were followed shortly after by the branding-up of New York taxis in football team colours on the eve of the season.
US Villa fans across the pond got involved, using the claret and blue cabs to travel to the Football Factory Pub near the Empire State Building to see their team take on Arsenal, while supporters in Chicago and Boston crammed into the Globe Pub and Banshee Pub respectively to watch the Gunners game also.
Guzan was smiling on the final whistle as Villa won 3-1 but he also took time out in the dressing room to check his mobile phone, with American associates telling him about the huge interest in the States for the win.
He added: "It was just fantastic that first weekend. We had won and I was getting picture messages coming through on my phone of supporters watching the game across the States. It was unbelievable!
"We had such a huge following in the US watching us all over the country.
"I know the Globe Pub in Chicago where they were watching us. For them to host all of those Villa fans was absolutely brilliant. For all that to come together so perfectly, it just shows what this club is all about and the popularity of this club all over the world - and the reach it has.
"The claret and blue taxis were amazing too. I couldn't get my breath."
With Week Two now complete, many US fans will already have chosen their team as they settle down to enjoy the continued coverage.
But for those still undecided, Guzan believes an American allegiance might sway them Villa's way.
He added: "We have had quite a few Americans play here and our owner - Randy Lerner is American.
"We have had Brad Friedel, Michael Bradley, Eric Lichaj and I play for the team over the past few years.
"It's a big thing for Americans to have internationals playing for one club. You can't underestimate that.
"It's huge for the US to have players in the Premier League and it's good for Villa to have US players because it draws that extra interest from the States.
"They might not be familiar with the club but because their countrymen are playing at Villa, it can turn them into supporters."
Talking to fans during an @NBCSportSoccer Twitter Takeover, lead host Rebecca Lowe was asked which American would star this season.
She replied: "Brad Guzan. He's experienced and established. He'll have a great season."
Pushed on which team would be the dark horse this term, she added: "Aston Villa! I think they will do well!"
Just goes to show that the NBC coverage is both excellent and expert!
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