Soccer pro: Reporter gets full-access

Manouk Akopyan

When the Chivas USA communications’ team phoned the Daily Sundial sports desk and offered all-inclusive press coverage for their team’s home match-up against the Kansas City Wizards Saturday night at the Home Depot Center, it was an opportunity that most definitely had to be seized.?

As a sports writer, given a chance to sit through a 90-minute game with fellow soccer writers, being able to fire questions in the media room at head coaches after the game and granted full locker room access to the players for recap was a no-brainer. After all, we plan on doing this on an everyday basis, right??

Heading into the game with a Hollywood delusion of Scotch on the rocks and the chance to puff cigars with my blazer-jacketed colleagues was instead met with a boxed-setup of a ham sandwich, fun-sized chips and an apple, resembling the stereotypical elementary lunch sack. The enjoyment of drinks and stogies were instead substituted with endless conversation with soccer aficionados from reputable print outlets across the nation.?

However, when initially making my way to the stadium’s media credentials window, surprisingly, my name was not on their list. Now at the same time, there was a boxing match at the adjacent venue featuring two end-of-the-road fighters in ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley and Ricardo Mayorga, tempting me to scrap this entire assignment and buy a ticket off the guy walking around in the hoodie to watch a meaningless fight.?

But no, embarking on a Herculean effort to cash in on the invite while crossing paths with Don King en-route to the stadium, I realized my career can fade into Mike Tyson-like oblivion when I finally found my seat in the Chivas’ press box next to PA Sports Ticker’s Ray Moir, as he said, ‘You know you are getting into a lousy business, right?’ citing the ever-changing world of print journalism. ?

Settling in and digesting the influx of statistics and light hazing thrown my way as the game kicked off at 7:37, Moir took me under his wing, offering titillating tidbits only a soccer junkie would love with intricate details in both the soccer and writing scene. At one point, from our bird’s-eye view from midfield, he jokingly offered his binoculars to see the Chivas Girls down below.?

‘This is my night out,’ laughed Moir, a retired electrician of 28-years who has been covering Chivas ever since the team’s birth in 2004. ‘The talk here (in the press box) is all soccer, though, most of the time.’

The work is too.

When Chivas’ star Ante Razov, the MLS’ all-time second-leading scorer, went down on the pitch, four minutes later, press row had all the details from the medical staff via a text message sent to the booth upstairs. The prognosis was an injury to his right calf’hellip;out for the game. When Chivas netted the first score of the night after Alecko Eskandarian’s right leg connected with Sasha Victorine’s cross, the team of statisticians hustled over all the scoring information.?

However, the second goal was missed by almost half the crew when Victorine launched a ball in stoppage time for a 2-0 lead. In anticipation of a quiet minute leading into halftime, several of the writers had already made their way over to the ‘press pantry’ in hopes of scarfing down some freshly-baked cookies, a regular routine that takes place during intermission. As the fans roared, they quickly turned back and the replays and statisticians had them covered.?

As the game wound down in front of 14,783 in attendance and Chivas inched closer to a playoff spot with a 2-1 victory, the team of reporters took a David Beckham-esque detour through the Home Depot Center and to the post-game press conference room where the emotionally strained head coach of the Chivas, Preki Radosavljevic, took questions from myself and others.?

‘This result is pretty good for us,’ he said as his team secured three vital points and stayed second in the Western Conference standings with only four games left to play. ‘We had some new faces out there tonight and we had to make some adjustments. We got our two goals. I thought we could have had more, but we took a good lead into halftime.’?

The exposure spilled into the locker room as CSUN alumnus and communications coordinator for Chivas USA Eduard Cauich corresponded with athletes, cameramen and reporters to get all the information needed for a story.?

‘We have a good group of guys in this locker room,’ Eskandarian said afterwards, commenting on the influx of late-season additions to the team. ‘I’m just having fun and trying to contribute.’?

The biggest contribution though was that of Chivas USA and the good group of guys who reached out to CSUN. As for that pre-game ham sandwich, the asking price was a measly dollar. But the exposure and experience for a guy whose sole intention is to do this full time? Priceless.