By Paul Kennedy
NBC Sports has a new voice for its MLS coverage. Like his predecessor, Arlo White, John Strong was plucked out of the soccer-crazed Pacific Northwest, where he made a name for himself covering the Portland Timbers.
While White was a seasoned broadcaster when he joined the Seattle Sounders broadcast team from the BBC in 2010, Strong was all of 24 when he called his first game on radio for the Portland Timbers, then playing in the USL in 2009.
Only 28, Strong caught the broadcasting bug early, convincing his high school principal to let him add a broadcasting program. He broadcast Oregon's women's soccer matches in college and was the voice of the Eugene Generals Junior A hockey team at the age of 20. In 2011, the Timbers hired him to handle play-by-play, the same position he will hold for NBC's MLS telecasts.
Strong earned MLS’s Broadcast Call of the Year in 2001 for his call of Darlington Nagbe’s 2011 AT&T Goal of the Year for the Timbers and last year was named the Oregon Sportscaster of the Year.
Soccer is a big part of Strong's life. The former Timbers Army supporter is married to former Washington State star Nicole Wilcox, who was leading scorer in the WPSL for the BSC Portland Rain in 2011.
Strong will call MLS games alongside Kyle Martino with host Russ Thaler beginning July 6 with the Vancouver-Seattle Cascadia Cup matchup on NBC Sports Network at 11 p.m. ET.
“I’m thrilled to join NBC Sports Group’s MLS team,” said Strong in a statement. “To be a national voice of Major League Soccer has been my dream job for a long while. To do it with the iconic NBC Sports brand makes it perfect. My first game can't come soon enough!”
The move to hire Strong follows NBC's acquisition of English Premier League broadcast rights, beginning with the 2013-14 season, and its decision to have White handle the lead EPL play-by-play duties.
-- Portland native Christian Miles will serve as the Timbers’ television play-by-play announcer for the remainder of the 2013 season. He will begin calling Timbers matches on July 7, on the ROOT SPORTS broadcast of the club’s road match against the Columbus Crew.
Strong's Timbers partner, analyst Robbie Earle, will also contribute to NBC’s MLS coverage in addition to his duties as an EPL studio analyst, but he will remain a member of the Timbers broadcast team, according to the Timbers.
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