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Men in Blazers Q&A: Andrés Cantor on Argentina's chances at the 2022 World Cup, whether the U.S. will advance, and more

On the most recent episode of Men in Blazers’ “Do It Live!”, Rog and GFOPs welcomed the one and only Andres Cantor to the show to get the legendary broadcaster’s predictions for the 2022 World Cup, including how he thinks the U.S. will perform in Qatar.

A legend of football broadcasting, a man who imbues every game he calls with the detail and enthusiasm of a World Cup Final, and one who has the lung capacity of a blue whale, Cantor appeared on the show ahead of his role as lead commentator for the upcoming FIFA Men’s World Cup on Telemundo Deportes. From his history in broadcasting to his deep passion for the game of soccer, Cantor opened up about a host of topics, and even took some fan questions as well.

Be sure to download the Amp app to tune in to the next “Do It Live!” and get the chance to ask your own questions during the live broadcast. Without further ado, here are some highlights from Rog’s interview with Andres Cantor.

ROG: "Telemundo has just announced an expanded lineup of commentators to bring this nation Spanish-language coverage of the tournament on Telemundo, Universo and Peacock. And (the lineup) includes our mate, Diego Forlan, that gent who, take it from me, smells so good; the great Tab Ramos; and none other than the legendary Mexican manager, and true hero of this show, Miguel Herrera. Andres, please tell me we'll get to see a Cantor-Herrera booth at one point during the tournament?”

CANTOR: "Most likely, yes, that's what I hope. Our day by day will be released very soon. But I anticipate that I will be with him and my good friend and long-time fellow color commentators, Manuel Sol and Carlos Hermosillo, who do all the games from the Premier League and everywhere, basically, alongside myself. So yes, I hope I get to have a very nice and unforgettable 90 minutes next to Miguel Herrera."

ROG: "Give the people what they want! Andres, let's talk about you, because you are one of the most fascinating men in the game, in the United States. You were born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in roughly the same era as Diego Maradona, meaning that your youth in that nation was in the pre-Maradona landscape — honestly, it's hard for many of our listeners to even imagine a pre-Lionel Messi landscape — so take us back to your youth, before games were readily available on television. ... You grew up listening to football on the radio. Can you tell us how that experience captures your imagination as a kid? 'Cause I did too, in Liverpool, so many games I'd live for 90 minutes via the radio, and it somehow, especially as a kid, made you picture the players almost as more than mere mortals."

CANTOR: "Yes, definitely. As a matter of fact, I have to tell you that I never thought; I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a journalist. I never imagined that I would end up doing TV or radio, because I wanted to be a written journalist. I studied journalism at USC, and did not take one single broadcast journalism course. And while I was at the university, I was already working as a correspondent for a very well-known publishing company in Argentina that published five different magazines, one being sports, like Sports Illustrated, another one being like People magazine, another one being like Time, so I had a whole bunch of other things I was writing about. But really I wanted to be around football. And that is how life goes, I guess, as the minute I'm thinking about going back to Argentina, because I wanted to be around the game, I get a call from the person that ended up hiring me full-time at S.I.N., Spanish International Network, who wanted me to call games for them. And I had never done that."

ROG: "When you were a kid, listening along on the radio, who were the players or teams in your youth that made a young Andres Cantor dream?"

CANTOR: "Well, obviously, the Argentina national team had a lot of players … I remember ditching school in 1974 to watch them play in (the World Cup in) Germany, and of course, every Argentine was taken by the 1978 team of Mario Kempes; Ubaldo Fillol, the goalkeeper; (Daniel) Passarella, our great captain; Ossie Ardiles; Daniel Bertoni. I mean, we had some amazing players that were already playing in Europe, and obviously that 1978 World Cup (which was hosted and won by Argentina) is the one I remember the most, as my first major impact in my life."

ROG: "You know, it was the same for me in England. We never really watched global football, we watched only muddy men on muddy pitches kick the crap out of each other once a week on English television. To watch Argentine football in that World Cup, the explosion of confetti and toilet rolls flung down to the field whenever the players took to the pitch was just one of the most searing and beautiful and stunning memories of my entire life, not just my footballing life. But you shortly afterwards moved to Southern California with your family as a teenager. You dropped into Los Angeles, which must have been some culture shock in so many ways. But what do you recall about the popularity of soccer, football, in L.A. back upon your arrival? What did you make of the local scene? Did you find it easily, or did you have to go in search of it?"

CANTOR: "No, even though the NASL was (still around), it was kind of non-existent. I remember I followed the L.A. Aztecs around. This is a funny story ... I'm walking in my neighborhood (as a teenager) in San Marino, California, and I run into Johan Cruyff, who was playing for the Aztecs. He was walking his Dobermans, his dogs. And of course, I couldn't believe my eyes. So I said, 'Mr. Cruyff, do you think you can wait for me? I'm three blocks away from my home, can you wait for me so I can go get my camera?' ... So I run as fast as I could to my home, and I don't know who took the picture, but I brought somebody with me, and lo and behold, he was still there with his dogs. And I took a picture with him, and I could not believe that Johan Cruyff had waited for me to go home and get my camera and have my picture taken with him. And then the NASL folded, and it was really hard to find any soccer in L.A. Back in the day, they used to bring a lot of Mexican teams to play friendlies. And sometimes the friendlies were fairly good, because they brought some teams from Europe, and as you can imagine, because television wasn't televising any of these games, a friendly for soccer-hungry fans was like the final of the World Cup. So the L.A. Coliseum or the Rose Bowl got filled with 75,000 people for an Atlas against Roma game, or Fiorentina. That was the only contact with soccer."

ROG: "You talked about how you moved to the Spanish International Network, S.I.N. You'd been a written journalist, and then you're suddenly in the booth. Talk about that transition from the pen to the microphone."

CANTOR: "The transition was kind of hard, because, first and foremost, I had never done radio or television. Television, for sure. So the very first time, I get called, they tell me that they're going to do an audition for me, that I should bring two suits, two ties and two shirts. OK, fine. I thought, an audition is just an audition. So I ask, what's the audition about? They tell me, ‘We're going to tape the first game, which is going to air this Sunday, and then we're going to tape the second one that's going to air the following Sunday.’ I say, 'Air? You mean on television?' They say, yep. So I did color commentary on the first game, and afterwards, they took me to lunch, and they said, '(We) can tell that you know a lot about football. You analyze it very well. But we're looking for a play-by-play guy. Do you think you can do play-by-play for the next game that we're taping?' And talk about chutzpah. I was 23, what was I going to say, no? The worst thing that could happen to me was to be ridiculed by Hispanic America on national television. So I did play-by-play, and I guess the guy liked it. I think this was on a Thursday, he called me within a week to offer me a full-time job."

ROG: "I do need to say, your goal call, that iconic, drawn-out goal orgasm, was heard all around the world in 1994. I remember as a kid listening to it for the first time — they played it on BBC, where the commentators, still to this day, are famed for their lack of emotion — but they played you, like, 'Here's how it's being broadcast in America.' And we heard your call, as a kid I heard it, and I couldn't believe the thrill, which to me is the thrill you felt through football — but because we're repressed in England and we're not allowed to feel emotions, we weren't allowed to say that we felt them — and you (were the voice of) that call, which I absolutely adore. And there's a quote of yours that I really love, Andres, you said, 'You can't fake passion in your calls. It has to flow naturally, or the audience will know it, no matter what language they're enjoying the match in.’ That's a life truth, Andres."

CANTOR: "Well, thank you for the orgasm part. I like that definition. (Laughs.) No, in all honesty, I never-never-ever in 33 years of calling games faked a goal (call). Sometimes I've been criticized by fans for not yelling out the goal (for) the same length as the other team's (goal), but it all has to do with the game. I'm just there to broadcast it. If it's a 5-0 game, unless the fifth goal really merits it (I won’t fake a goal call) ... I'm going to give you a perfect example. The FIFA Women's World Cup, which we broadcast on Telemundo from France. I think it was the 13-0 thrashing of the U.S. Women's National Team against Thailand. So I just said, 'I will not yell out the fifth goal unless it warrants it.' But I knew that the U.S. Women's National Team, on that day, was breaking record after record after record. Alex Morgan alone was breaking her own personal goal-scoring record in a single game. So, it was 9-0 and it was 'GOOOAAALLL!', the long howl. It was 11-0 for Alex Morgan, OK, 'Goal!' And I think I lowered down the pitch a little bit for the 12th, I don't know the progression, but you know what I mean. You can't fake passion. Latins, you know us, we are very passionate."

ROG: "What number World Cup will (the 2022 World Cup) be for you as a broadcaster?"

CANTOR: "This will be my ninth calling World Cups, both television and radio. And it will be my 12th in attendance. Eleventh working, 12th if you consider that I went to every single Argentina match and then some in 1978 as a teen, as a fan."

ROG: "Can you give us an Argentine perspective on the World Cup? This could be Messi's last (World Cup), he's coming off a Copa America (title), and a Finalissima championship. That squad has been coming together so well at the international level recently. Ageless (Angel) Di Maria, young and hungry Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez. What do you feel is possible?"

CANTOR: "Can we redo this interview November 7? (Laughs.) I will give you the answer as of today, thinking that the team will be healthy … and hopefully the coach will have all (his) players available. I think Argentina has taken a 2,000-pound load off their back by winning Copa America. Especially Messi. And Di Maria. In Argentina we are very harsh. We don't want them to reach the final, we want them to win the final. ... If we reach the final, we're there to win it. After having the failed finals of 2014 in Rio, '15 in Chile, '16 in New York ... this Copa America that Argentina won meant a whole lot for Argentine football, for Messi, for Di Maria. It was like a relief better than any tactical decision Pep, Klopp, Mourinho can make for this team ... The thing is that we have not been tested against European (teams). We beat Italy in the Finalissima that was played at Wembley. Even though Italy didn't make it to the World Cup, they are the European champions. So, it was a good win. But then, the first test in my humble view, will be Denmark. If Argentina wins their (World Cup) group, and Denmark comes second to France, then the Round of 16 will be Denmark."

ROG: "I love a man who looks ahead. An Englishman would never do what you've just done, but I admire it greatly."

CANTOR: "Well, I have the gray hair, and I dream about it, and I have nightmares about it, because after Denmark is Holland. And (Louis) van Gaal. And then if we get past that ... I mean, I have more faith this time because I think we can beat them. I think Argentina can beat Denmark. I think on a good day we can beat Holland. ... The key for Argentina and every (team) is taking into consideration when the World Cup will be. How do we say it, the beauty of this World Cup being played in November is that the players will be fresher than ever. They will have played 21-25 games leading into the World Cup, and not the 60-plus games the big stars play after a full season."

ROG: "We've got to talk about the United States. You've been at the center of American soccer for a long time, Andres. What excites you about the U.S. Men's National Team's prospects this year, either as a commentator eager to cover their match against England, or as a fan? I guess I'm asking you, are we going to get out of the group?"

CANTOR: "Hopefully we will. Every team has to think that their World Cup Final is the opening match. The U.S. can't think about England. They have to concentrate on beating Wales. You can't get to England with zero points, because then the pressure will be enormous. What do I think of the U.S. team? I think it has a very young, but very experienced (core), taking into consideration their youth (among this) group of players. Most of them are starting to play at the top level. ... Pulisic is not getting many minutes (now), but he is a champion of Europe. (Yunus) Musah is a starting midfielder for Valencia. My question is around the goalkeepers. That position is key. Who's going to be the number one? Is it going to (Zack) Steffen? Is he going to get enough playing time at his new club (Middlesbrough)? Is (Matt) Turner going to get enough playing time? I like the prospect. I think they have a very good group; being young with lots of experience. It's very hard to have an under-23 average group of players with so much European experience. I know everyone's thinking 2026, but no, I'm thinking about 2022. I think they can beat Wales. Hopefully, they can get a good result against England, meaning a win or draw, and hopefully … even Iran is a good team, they have a feared center forward, they run a lot. We'll see how they get to that last match group (against Iran), and hopefully they will get out."

ROG: "Quick one, moment-of-truth time, spoiler-alert time too, who's going to win it all and why?"

CANTOR: "If I'm going to answer you with my heart ... I hope I don't jinx it, (but I'll) say I hope Argentina wins it. (If I'm answering you without) my heart, Brazil has a very, very good team, and has talent on top of talent, and they will be the team to beat."

(Editor’s note: The next question was submitted by a fan live during the show. Be sure to download the Amp app to ask your own question during the next “Do It Live!”)

ROG: "@kshepmt, come be with us. Tell us where you're from, and then the last question is yours."

@KSHEPMT: "Hi, I'm calling in from Great Falls, Montana. Supporter of Everton and Sounders FC. After listening to you and Davo break down the (Thomas) Tuchel-(Antonio) Conte handshake, I thought, well, what if we change the rules, and in tournaments, instead of deciding games with penalties, it's managers Russian slap fighting? Which Premier League teams and World Cup teams would have an advantage with that rule change?"

ROG: "Whoever has 'Big' Sam Allardyce or Sean Dyche as their manager will clearly be on a quick pathway to glory. It is fascinating, though, what we think people want to watch, and what they do want to watch are often two very different things. At this moment in time, why do we watch football? I'd love to leave that with you as the last question, Andres. Just this pure, joyous entertainment, but there was something about the Spurs-Chelsea game (and the Tuchel-Conte confrontation) that does fit into your category of life lived authentically, without fake passion … just the constriction of what we normally see through a side, and we saw two men who were obsessed, two men who were dedicated, two men who were feeling conditions of hysterical stress, just going at it right in front of the world's eyes. What is it that draws us to this, if it's not the humanity?"

CANTOR: "I would add two elements to this conversation. First, it was fixture number two. Can you imagine this game going into the last couple of weeks with the chance of winning the Premier League or going into Europe? This was week two when this happened. On top of that, what you have to love, and I don't want to mix money and emotions, but at the end of the day these two guys are making reportedly an annual salary of $20 million, or $18 million each. And yet in week two, they feel this way? I'd love to have a coach that has this energy, this hot blood in their veins to coach me and guide me through the rest of the season."