Steve Cangialosi, Michelle Gingras and Shep Messing. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Gingras)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Neither did Steve Cangialosi, Michelle Gingras or Shep Messing step right into their Red Bulls’ roles. For the most part, they honed their announcing skills with some other sports although Messing always had stuck with the beautiful game.

Messing, Cangialosi and Gingras will announce their final Red Bulls regular season game on the MSG Networks as the hosts welcome Charlotte FC at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on MLS Decision Day at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here is a look at the broadcasting careers of the Red Bulls’ trio and how they started.

Shep Messing (Photo courtesy of MSG Networks)

Shep Messing

Messing, who grew up in Roslyn, N.Y., forged his reputation as a goalkeeper, first with the U.S. Olympic team at the 1972 Munich Olympics before he backstopped the Pele-led New York Cosmos to the 1977 North American Soccer League championship. After one-year stints with the Oakland Stompers and Rochester Lancers, Messing joined the New York Arrows in the fledgling Major Indoor Soccer League in 1978. He played a vital role in helping the Arrows to the first four titles in league history.

It was during his Arrows tenure that Messing got his first taste of broadcasting. During the 1983-84 Major Indoor Soccer League season.

In the first game at the Los Angeles Lazers during a west coast trip that was televised back to New York, the producer wanted each player to introduce himself. Instead of passing the microphone, Messing took it and walked down the line before adding some words himself.

“They figured I might be good on TV,” he said.

Messing incurred an injury and was forced to miss the next game at the San Diego Sockers.

“I can’t even suit up and be the backup,” he said. “They asked me to go up in the television booth and join the broadcast with JP Dellacamera calling the play-by-play.”

Messing, who did the color, healed up and was back in action next week.

And that was his broadcasting career.

Or so he thought.

In 1985, Dellacamera called Messing and told him he wanted him to be his broadcasting partner for the 1986 World Cup (Mexico).

“I went from calling an indoor game and my first game ever to [a few] years later, calling the World Cup with JP out of a booth in Canada. Wow. That was my entry into the broadcast career.”

Let’s fast forward to the start of Major League Soccer in the nineties. Messing had formed a player agency with Pele and asked MetroStars president Nick Sakiewicz, who was his back-up on the Arrows, if he was interested in any of his players in 2000.

“That’s how crazy life is,” said Messing, who drove to New Jersey to meet with the MetroStars boss.

Sakiewicz said he didn’t need any of his players. But Jeff Strauss, who was a producer/director of MLS matches and who was in the meeting at the time, asked Messing: “Do you want to be on TV?”

“Jeff must have known I had called the World Cup many years before, “Messing said. “He said, ‘We need a sideline reporter.’ It was JP in the booth with Tommy Smyth. I said look, if I can’t sell Nick a player. I’ll be a sideline reporter. I did that for a year Tommy Smith left and then I went up into the booth. So, it’s been a crazy entry into the business, and it couldn’t have gone better.”

Since then, Messing has covered a myriad of soccer games events, that have included World Cups, UEFA Champions League, college games, National Women’s Soccer League and high school soccer.

“I love soccer,” he said. “I have absolutely no idea how many games if you told me 1,000 or 10,000 or five, I have no idea because I live for today. I only looked at an old game to try and criticize or critique or get better. I don’t look back. It’s my philosophy of life. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Hopefully more to come.”

Messing, who celebrates his 73rd birthday on Sunday, became a student of the game off the field, looking how various sportscasters – soccer and other sports – described the action.

He remembered some important advice.

“I was given the advice when I got into broadcasting to treat it the way I treated climbing the ladder as an athlete,” he said. “First college, then the Olympics, then professional and then working every year to try and be better.”

There was even more advice.

“In my first year I was given advice to say you’ve got to treat this like you’re a rookie,” Messing said. “It’s your first year in the league with the Cosmos. You’ve got to win a job. You’ve got to get better at it every year, and you’ve got to work at it. That was good advice.

“I still to this day, 25 years later. I try to learn. I watch broadcasts every week of every sport to see how the color analyst, whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, or especially soccer or hockey [does]. I’m still watching broadcasts, trying to get better, trying to look at a nuance or a phrase or a way of describing something. I think for anybody who wants to succeed in anything they doing in your in their lives, that’s a good lesson to follow.”

Steve Cangialosi (Photo courtesy of MSG Networks)

Steve Cangialosi

A native of Queens, N.Y., Cangialosi grew up in South Ozone Park. He graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree in 1983 before embarking on a broadcasting career. He moved up the ladder quickly. He was the sports editor at WNEW-FM and was the youngest on-air reporter at WINS. During an eight-year stint as one of NY1’s original on-the-air personalities, he also was a talk show host and sportscaster at ESPN Radio.

He also has worked for beIN Sports, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, ESPN on assignments that included MLS matches and Olympic soccer matches at the 2012 London games.

Cangialosi, 58, replaced Dellacamera as the Red Bulls TV announcer in 2008, though his introduction to MetroStars/Red Bulls soccer wasn’t as smooth as you would think.

In 2002, Leon Schweir was the executive producer of MSG Networks.

“Leon was one of those guys who would be in his office cooped up watching the Champions League long before it was cool in the United States to do so,” Cangialosi said of Schweir, who passed at the age of 68 in 2021.

“He had so much on his plate. He was the executive producer of like, nine different teams. I’m not exaggerating. Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, Devils. We had the MetroStars and we had the New York Power briefly.”

Schweir called Cangialosi into his office. He told the announcer that MSG was going to take over the production of the MetroStars, instead of continuing to take the feed from another company that had been producing the games.

“He said, ‘We’re going to do this the MSG way and I want you to be the host and face of our presentation of MetroStars soccer,’ ” Cangialosi said.

Now, that came out of nowhere.

“I said to him, ‘Leon, this is not why I came here. I was here to do mainstream sports. You brought me aboard to cover the Knicks the Mets, the Yankees, the Rangers, the Devils. Soccer fans can see an outsider from a mile away. Do you really want me to do this to you?’ ” he asked his boss.

To which Schweir replied, according to Cangialosi: “You’re absolutely wrong. I need you on this because you’re good at what you do. We want to elevate the coverage.”

Cangialosi didn’t meet Dellacamera and Messing for the first time until about three hours prior to the MetroStars’ opener on March 23, 2002.

After that match, a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution, Dellacamera and Messing were waiting for the new soccer announcer by the broadcast truck at Giants Stadium.

“They told me that, I kind of killed it, and it’s great to have you,” Cangialosi said.

“That opened up like a whole new door for me. These are two legends in the game and they’re willing to accept me as part of their team. From that moment on, from what began with me being very skeptical, has become a two-decade long waiver of love. We love doing these games.”

With Dellacamera getting plenty of national and international soccer assignments, Cangialosi stepped in as the play-by-play announcer.

“I was one of the busiest backup guys in the league,” he said, “because JP was always getting other assignments, whether it’s ESPN or in later years Fox. I was getting a fair amount of work as the number two guy.”

It was a perfect way to get more accustomed to the role.

“I was fortunate to follow in the footsteps of somebody who was very much in demand, because I was getting the reps and that’s extremely important,” Cangialosi said. “It’s the only way you’re really going to master anything I think with repetition. I was afforded that opportunity.”

When Dellacamera left in 2008, Cangialosi was ready to assume the No. 1 spot.

“They [MSG producers] asked me, saying that this is a natural progression. We want you and boom,” he said. “It was fantastic.”

But with the “power” of the play-by-play announcer comes great responsibility. Cangialosi knew it.

“It’s a totally different mindset when you’re in the chair every game. It really is,” he said. “You do a good game you want to come right back the next week and do another good game. If you have a bad game, you want to come right back and make up for it the next week when I when I got the full-time job.

“That’s when I kind of said to myself, ‘It’s time to get serious because you owe this to the fans. … It’s time to really elevate your game here, because there are people who live and die with this team and you are, the conduit to what they are experiencing.’ ”

Cangialosi then became a bit philosophical.

“What we do is pretty simple,” he said. “When you think about it, the premise of it, we marry the very special events in the lives of you know, fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. That’s what we do. We are the people who narrate that story and bring it into their living room. That’s never a responsibility we’ve taken lightly ever. Neither one of us.”

He has gone on to work soccer at different levels, including the 2012 London Olympics and on ESPN as well.

Cangialosi also was voice of the New Jersey Devils since 2011 before he stepped down last March. He replaced another legend then, Mike “Doc” Emrick before leaving his own shadow in not one, but two sports.

He also has been honored several times by organizations, including earning an Emmy Award in 2000 for outstanding sports program or special for his Remembering Joe DiMaggio TV special.

Michelle Gingras (Photo courtesy of MSG Networks)

Michelle Gingras

Gingras attended Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, Fla. before earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Loyola University (New Orleans) and a master’s degree in strategic communication from Purdue University. She started her career in as a multi-media reporter for the San Diego Union and its cable affiliate while reporting about the San Diego Padres and San Diego State.

She also was a host and report for Yahoo Sports, a college football reporter for beIN Sports and a reporter for the Tampa Bay Lightning and FOX Sports Florida before journeying to New York.

Well before applying for a position at MSG, Gingras said she was impressed with the network’s overall production values. She remembered when the Rangers, Islanders or Devils played in Tampa.

“I was really impressed the level of professionalism and just how iconic it was,” she said of MSG. “To me it seemed like such a far-fetched goal at the time to be able to someday work for them. It didn’t I didn’t even know how it would work at the time I was living in Florida, but I was always so impressed.”

Gingras, 32, moved to New York six years ago, working for a start-up “that they thought was going to be like the next digital thing,” she said.

The company went bankrupt within five months after it started. Gingras wound up having an informational meeting with one of MSG’s executive producers. “If you ever have an opportunity, I would love to be considered kind of thing,” she said.

While hoping for a New York-New Jersey connection, Gingras covered Conference USA football for a Miami network. Her agent called and told her the Red Bulls had a job opening with MSG.

“I had already kind of made that connection a year before and I was really candid with them,” she said. “I’ve wanted to work for MSG for basically honestly my entire professional career.”

Needless to say, she got the job in 2018.

As a relative newcomer to the metropolitan area and its complicated transportation system, just getting to Red Bull Arena from New York City could be a daunting task.

“I remember the first day of media day for the players,” Gingras said. “I came to Red Bull Arena. I had no idea how to get there. I was like relatively new to New York City, so I wasn’t like very good at navigating like, you take the subway to the World Trade Center, then you hop on the PATH. I was like, ‘What are all these trains?’ ”

She got to RBA on time and met Eddie Caggianelli, the MSG’s Red Bulls producer.

“He’s like, ‘I want you to meet someone. This is Shep Messing,’ ” Gingras said. “He didn’t know me at all, never met me. He gave me a huge hug and was walking around introducing me to everyone. I love Shep. He’s a mentor to me. He’s a friend. He’s he knows my family well, and vice versa. Like I think that translates on air because we genuinely just have so much respect for one another. The same goes for Steve.”

First impressions can go a long way.

Gingras, who gave birth to her first child, a son, Charlie, in March, has taken on another team – the Rangers. It started during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic almost three years ago.

“It was like a special circumstance because there were no fans allowed in the building, but they were still broadcasting games,” she said. “They needed someone to do interviews for everyone. I would do an interview with a player from every team that would go on the world feed. We did that for a year where like we would share feeds with other broadcast teams.”

She would interview a Rangers player during the first intermission and if they were playing Pittsburgh, a Penguins player between the second and third periods.

“I did well enough with it that they were happy,” Gingras said. “They brought me back for the second year.”

Gingras is starting her third season with the Rangers.

Here is a story you might be interested in:

THE END OF AN ERA: After more than two decades, Messing, Cangialosi will work their final MSG Networks’ Red Bulls regular season broadcast on Sunday, as will Gingras