In the 1970's, there was basically no English-language World Cup coverage in the United States. The final was shown on tape delay (days later) in 1970 and 1974, and not at all in 1978. On the other hand, by 1994 the coverage had reached "modern standards": all games televised live, and no commercial interruptions. I became a fan in the late 70s, so it was interesting to watch the growth from nothing in 1978 to full coverage in 1994. (This wiki entry gives some details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_FIFA_World_Cup_broadcasters#United_States). Here are my recollections (I still have bits of these broadcasts recorded). 1982 - I don't remember the games on ESPN. I do remember Toby Charles, of Soccer Made in Germany fame, presenting edited (one hour) highlights of the "match of the day" on PBS, each day of the World Cup. He also did a weekly summary of highlights. The final was on ABC, with Jim McKay announcing. Plenty of commercial interruptions - I don't think they missed any goals though (more on that later). Watching the final, as soon as they hit the first commercial, I switched to the Spanish station. 1986 - A bunch of games on ESPN, a few weekend ones on NBC. They still had commercial interruptions. The ESPN announcers were in the studio, calling the game off of monitors! That was painful - they had to rely on the broadcast to figure out what was going on. Like, a goal is waved off because of offside and it takes them 20 seconds to realize it because the broadcast never showed the linesman. One game (Belgium-Paraguay I belive), a player shot an indirect free kick straight into goal, which of course was no goal. ESPN didn't realize it was an indirect free kick and actually posted the wrong score. Finally realized the mistake 10 minutes later. Charlie Jones did the play-by-play for NBC. He was a good American football announcer, he was enthusiastic and gave it his all, but his soccer knowledge was lacking (hmm, why does that sound familiar..?). Rick Davis was one of the color guys. I have to divert here about Davis. Decent analysis, but man that guy could talk. Here's an example. In the final Maradona lost the ball while dribbling; the ball took a bad bounce and got away from him. A typical announcer might say something like: "After four weeks and several games, the Azteca field is a bit torn up, and that's way Maradona lost the ball ". Here's what Davis said: "The important thing here, in terms of looking and registering the qualify of the player there: the field surface, something we haven't talked much about today. The tournament's taken its toll on it. So many games, and the players wearing the sharp, metal studded cleats, really takes its toll on a field, they tear it up and unfortunately in spite of all of modern technology you simply can't get the grass to grow back as quickly as you want so the field ends up being bumpy, and on that play I think Maradona lost the ball because of it bouncing up." Did he get paid by the word? 1990 - TNT was the sole English broadcaster. This time I think at least some (or maybe all) announcers were on site. But the dreaded commercial breaks were still there, and this time at least a couple of goals were missed. I remember coming back from a commercial to waving Italian flags and the crowd going nuts. "Guess what just happened? A goal for Italy. We'll show you the replay in a minute". Great, thanks. When 1994 came around, it was like the promised land.