Gus Johnson: Making Waves in MLS with Wonderful Words

American sports broadcaster Gus Johnson finally tries his hand at soccer and MLS and he’s brought the Law of Gus with him
by Chris Enger   |   Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gus Johnson - San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) broadcaster

There’s something special going on in San Jose this year.

No it isn’t their early success. Even though he’s on a tear right now it isn’t Chris Wondolowski either. It isn’t the new stadium that is currently clearing the final hurdles to be put in the works. And I promise that this isn’t another piece on you know who.

Nope, this year the magic is coming from an unexpected source: Gus Johnson.

Gus Johnson is one of the more notable play-by-play men in the National Football League as well as college football and basketball. His voice stands out just as much as his passion for the game he calls.

Fans of the game welcome his commentary and not just because of the passion Johnson brings to the telecast, but also because of what usually ensues in the game he is calling. They call it the "Law of Gus".

Bill Simmons defines the “Law of Gus” thusly; “If Gus Johnson is calling an NFL game, the odds quintuple that (A) the lead will change hands in the fourth quarter; (B) someone will complete a long pass in a big moment that will make Gus' voice hit an octave only dogs can hear; and (C) the game will go into overtime or at least come damned close. It seems impossible that the mere presence of an announcer would alter the course of the game, but here's my theory: I think God sits in his man cave on Sundays and says, ‘Which game is Gus Johnson calling? I get a kick out of that guy. I think I'll make his game exciting and see if he completely loses his mind.’”

That’s what makes the games Gus Johnson calls so much fun. He has a style, yes, but when the game reaches its critical moment, Johnson simply loses it as any fan would regardless the team.

Want proof: Exhibit 1, exhibit 2, exhibit 3, exhibit 4, exhibit 5 and finally exhibit 6.

The last clip is the recent radio telecast synced with the television angle of the San Jose-Philadelphia match. It’s addicting. Seriously, listen to it. Then try not listening to it again. Once you pop, you just can’t stop.

As infectious as the goal call is, where Johnson really shines is his ability to describe what’s happening on the field at any time. Now granted this is his first year calling any type of soccer match, but he is already one of my favorites simply because he is describing where the ball is and who has it.

Unlike some announcers from other sports who move over to soccer, he is trying a bit too hard to use terms like pitch and football to describe field and soccer, but that never outshines the rest of his play-by-play. If I were listening to the match by radio or computer, I would be able to follow his call pretty easily because he describes the situation so well.

His goal celebrations, well, any situation he calls in any sport is as though any fan of any team was calling it. He doesn’t succumb to having a catch phrase or slogan. What fan shouts after a goal is scored “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLL!” or “It’s in the back of the net, it’s in the back of the net.” I know I don’t. When I celebrate a goal it’s a lot of shouting and a lot of chaos, which is what it sounds like when Johnson calls a goal. Even though he is calling the matches for San Jose this year, he has the same reaction to any goal be it San Jose, Philadelphia, DC or whomever the Earthquakes are playing.

The sport of soccer works well for Gus Johnson and the “Law of Gus” because in the last 15-30 minutes of any match the game is usually close and that’s where his charisma and talents shine. The build up to any type of goal could lead to Johnson going atomic on the game call.

Last year I only watched two San Jose matches, they were the matches against Real Salt Lake. This year I’ve already watched five. I simply take the television telecast, turn down the volume and sync the radio broadcast via a TuneIn Radio app. It’s broadcasting heaven from there.

As a fan of gridiron football, it’s a welcome site to see Gus Johnson calling MLS games. He brings professionalism, and a strong reputation with him that only adds to the emotion he brings to every match.

Gus is making Earthquakes matches must see TV, or at least must listen.There’s something special going on in San Jose this year.


Univ. of Utah
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KoS & SN Podcast co-host & self-proclaimed funniest man in Utah. Mormon by faith, Ute by geography, Gooner by accident & proud RSLer. Father of 4, husband of 1, brother of many. Bilingual by day, quasi superhero en la noche. There's only one "Fuegote".