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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPICS

Lalas and Cantor Have a New 'Goooooooooool'

September 12, 2000|GRAHAME L. JONES

CANBERRA, Australia — If there's a spare videotape lying around the house, make sure it's in the VCR when the Olympic soccer tournament begins.

Not only Wednesday, when the U.S. men play the Czech Republic in Canberra, but also on Thursday, when the U.S. women's game against Norway in Melbourne will be shown.

Why? Because television history could be made. In fact, it will be made.

"It's me and Andres Cantor," Alexi Lalas was saying. "I've known him for years, and obviously he's never really done English-language TV. It's going to be crazy. It's going to be fun. It could be historical TV. It could be must-see TV, actually. It's definitely going to be different."

There's little doubt about that.

Cantor, from San Marino, Calif., is best known for his many years as the Spanish-language play-by-play announcer on Univision's soccer broadcasts. He has since switched to Telemundo, but now is making a positively Olympian leap of faith--by agreeing to broadcast the soccer tournament of the Sydney Olympic Games in English.

Cantor's English is fine, so the language should not be his handicap. It's his sidekick who might cause some problems. "You know what I'm thinking of doing?" Lalas said. "I'm thinking that I'm going to pick one half during the Olympics and do it all in Spanish."

In an experiment that is as bold as it is preposterous, NBC has paired Lalas, the redheaded, red-goateed troubadour of trouble, with Cantor, who takes his soccer seriously and whose elongated call when goals are scored has become his trademark.

Don't worry, Lalas isn't going to step in there.

"I can't do the 'Goooooooooool! ' thing," the former two-time Olympian and U.S. World Cup player said. "That's why he's there. That's his gig. He can take it for all it's worth. I'm just going to lay out and let him go."

Small mercies, indeed.

Amy Allman, the backup goalkeeper on the U.S. team that won the first Women's World Championship in China in 1991, will be doing the color commentary on the Olympic women's soccer games.

Who will she be doing it with?

"With Andres," said a positively gleeful Lalas. "Oh yes, it's getting better. It should be nuts."

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