ESPN - typically - fires the wrong guy

By Paul Gardner

Trying to read any logic -- particularly soccer logic -- into any of the decisions made by ESPN regarding its soccer coverage is barely worth the bother.

Because there is no one at ESPN’s executive level who can tell a hand-ball from a drop-ball or possesses the remotest idea what good soccer, or bad soccer, looks like.

We’ve been forced for several years now, to put up with the clueless machinations of Jed Drake, who is ensconced as ESPN’s resident soccer genius. The man who believes that a soccer commentary, to have validity, must be delivered in British accents -- any old Brit accent will do, even if it’s barely understandable.

That is what passes for soccer knowledge in the world of Jed Drake. It means, of course, that American play-by-play announcers are not given a chance on ESPN. They are written off as soon as they open their mouths.

Throughout ESPN’s month-long award-winning coverage of World Cup 2010 (the awards came, surely, for documentary coverage of host nation South Africa -- certainly not for the soccer side of things) ESPN gave us seven announcers. Six of them were Brits, who made mistakes -- sometimes appallingly bad ones -- and regularly mispronounced the foreign names.

One commentator was American -- John Harkes. He was, at least, on a par with the Brits. He has continued to work games for ESPN – U.S. national team games, and MLS games. He did MLS Cup just two days ago. Now we get the news that he is out, to be replaced by Taylor Twellman.

Why? Who knows -- as I said, it’s pointless to search for reasons. Firstly because ESPN will offer only incoherence in reply, and secondly because that’s television. Announcers are instantly disposable. We’ve seen Ty Keough come and go, the same for Eric Wynalda and now it’s Harkes’ turn. Yes, I’m sorry to see Harkes go -- but I do not feel sorry for him. He was in a job where insecurity was part of the deal, and he must have known this.

For me, Harkes was doing a good job. I felt he improved almost game by game, coming over as more authoritative as he gained confidence, becoming less talkative but more informative. His soccer judgments were not always the ones I wanted to hear, but -- other than in my feeling that he was too ready to excuse rough play -- I had no major problems with his analyses.

There cannot have been anything wrong with Harkes’ on-screen appearance or persona. Good looks, youth, ready smile. It seems more than likely that Harkes has lost out on those qualities -- not that Twellman necessarily does better in the charisma department, but simply that he is fresher -- a new face, a new voice.

There is one point, though, on which I think Harkes is entitled to feel hard done by. Listening to him and Ian Darke during MLS Cup, I was yet again struck by just how awkward and ill-informed Darke looks and sounds in this role of an instant expert on American soccer.

Darke knew about David Beckham of course, and Robbie Keane, and Landon Donovan -- but for the other players (and that meant all of the Dynamo team) you could almost hear the pages rustling as he read off the stats and corny background info provided for him.

That is something that ought to cause considerable embarrassment at the ESPN headquarters. It is, for a start, simply inconceivable that such a state of affairs -- an “expert” without an in-depth knowledge of his sport -- would be allowed to continue for very long if it arose in football or basketball.

But does anyone at ESPN pay attention to what happens during soccer telecasts? On Sunday MLS -- and presumably ESPN -- got the final that they wanted, the Galaxy playing at its home stadium, a sellout crowd, a prime-time slot and, whoopee, David Beckham! The ratings were, if not actually derisory, certainly poor. Could ESPN’s presentation have anything to do with those low figures?

No one is going to blame Darke for accepting the job -- but he had to know that it is one for which he is poorly prepared. It should not be asking too much of him, then, to make some adjustments for an American audience. He knows that the sport is called soccer in this country. But he uses the term football. He also has to know that we refer to “the Galaxy” and “the Dynamo,” yet he sticks with the English usage, which drops the definite articles.

To that unwillingness to change anything, add a ponderous sledge-hammer wit -- and you have the reason why I think Harkes may feel aggrieved. Because if either of the Harkesy-Darkesy duo deserved to get canned it was surely Darke.

Twellman has very little experience as a television announcer. So there will be the usual learning-on-the-job glitches and gaucheries -- I recall a telecast earlier this season that had Twellman crowing “I told you!” like a 12-year-old when a banal prediction he had made appeared to come true.

I doubt whether Twellman will give us anything better than Harkes. Different, yes -- and there may be one positive note there, for Twellman was a forward, and we don’t too often get a sympathetic presentation of the attacker’s point of view on our telecasts.

But Twellman, like all forwards -- and like Keough and Wynalda and Harkes before him -- had better watch his back.

39 comments about "ESPN - typically - fires the wrong guy".
  1. Talley Berry, November 22, 2011 at 1:19 a.m.

    Everybody I know pays attention to and judges the commentary. And everybody I know hates Harkes. He is a dreadful commentator. I'd rather hear no definite articles at all than hear him put a "d" at the beginning of them. Darke is extremely likable and extremely popular. When you forgive Harkes for excusing rough play, you reveal the enormous anti-British axe you - for some reason - have to grind.

    The entire soccer world except for you is rejoicing at the prospect of a Harkesless future.

  2. K Hakim, November 22, 2011 at 1:37 a.m.

    As a former broadcast commentator for radio and TV, I am very critical of all soccer commentaries and productions. From my many travels, nobody beats SKY Sports in England for the best pre-match, half-time and post-match production and analysis. BBC run them a close second during World Cups and Euro Championships. It's a shame much of this work is not shown in America. I get sickened by the amateur work of Fox Soccer and GOL TV. I especially hate the pre-match and half-time studio segways from the original SKY Sports coverage. But what this buffoon, Gardner, proposes takes the cake. "Let's have more American amateur commentators on English football coverage." Dear Lord, no. When ESPN use Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain as analysts for the Men's World Cup, it is an insult to all the intelligent and knowledgeable international commentators out there and coaches that could give proper tactical insight to each match. So when ESPN and FOX broadcast Premier League, FA Cup and England games, then ONLY English commentators must be used. Where I will agree is that for all MLS, USL, College, Women's soccer games, that local American commentators should be used for their relativity and experience. But please, leave English football to the English at all times. Otherwise, it just wouldn't be cricket :)

  3. David Blenko, November 22, 2011 at 1:47 a.m.

    Maybe we should have fewer of the imported accents with no knowledge of American players. But I do find Darke likable and will not miss Harkes.

  4. Rene Guerra, November 22, 2011 at 3:49 a.m.

    Okay, farewell Harkes; you'll find greener grasses soon...that if you haven't already. And welcome Twelman. But there is another issue that the entire American soccer community should address: the lousy "play-by-play" game "narration" by presumptive narrators who all they do, from the get-go to the final whistle, is to engage with the commentator in endless gossiping rather than actually narrating the game play-by-play. It most likely is that the PBP narrator is just flat-out lazy and doesn't memorize the names of the players and, to get it out of the way, he just goes the gossipy way. That disgusting habit is more frequent in women soccer. God! It is detestable and it beats its purpose. We TV viewers, pay a fee for the service of televised soccer and demand a good service for our good (or are they? amidst Obamanomics?) dollars; we want to know who is doing this or that play, or who did this or that other one, continually. Who care for all that gossiping about this player, about this team, about this coach, about this team owner!! We want true PBP narration. If it is mere laziness, these presumptive PBP narrators should have the whip cracked on their back with pink-slip threat. If it is just that they don't know their trade, those gossiping PBP narrators should learn from, for example, those fellows in the Spanish channels, where the PBP narrator does narrate the game in a true PBP style, such as that guy Pablo Ramírez, and the commentators, such as Jesús Bracamontes, make cogent and felicitous comments with torrents of their deep knowledge of, and solid expertise in the game, all peppered with piquant, but still gingerly and tactful, witty quips, here and there.

  5. Chris May, November 22, 2011 at 5:59 a.m.

    To be a soccer fan who has listened to Harkes and to say that he is nothing short of terrible is to give up all credibility on the subject.

    To pretend that ESPN is making some type of soccer-stupid decision in getting rid of Harkes is laughable.

  6. Jogo Bonito, November 22, 2011 at 7:16 a.m.

    I agree 100% ... why does espn insist on Englishmen calling MLS and USNT games? It's insulting to my intelligence. It's sad that so many clearly like having the accent telling them what footba- - I mean "soccer" is. I guess it's the same people that will buy that amazing car wax or incredible knife set on late night infomercials because some Brit is telling you how you have to have it for only 3 easy payments of 19.99 ... and Taylor Twellmen? please ... he's a whole new, fully American reason to change the channel. He's possibly the most annoying snot-nosed brat of a commentator I tried to listen to since the early days of Ricky Davis in the 86 WC (I'd take Davis over Twellmen though) ... Harkes was fine. I didn't mind him at all. ESPN are idiots that treat Anerican soccer views like idiots. Sadly, many that comment here are. But I thought I'd speak for the many that love Paul's writing and agree with most of his insights.

  7. Charles O'Cain, November 22, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.

    I won't miss Harkes at all, and I wouldn't miss Darke either if there was a button on my remote which allowed viewing the match and listening to the crowd noise/"atmosphere" with no commentary whatsoever. There really is no need for at least 75% of the vocal "commentary", and none whatsoever for the "color".

  8. Tom Symonds, November 22, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.

    I disagree, Paul. We had Kevin Calabro, a well-respected broadcaster in Seattle, as the original voice of the MLS Sounders. In a word, his broadcasts were - HORRIBLE. Thank God we bagged Arlo White (Brit). Now NBC is looking to steal him away to do MLS. But Paul, if you're going to criticize ESPN for anything on their soccer telecasts, it should be for their deplorable production work. If NFL football was televised the same way ESPN does MLS, no one would watch. It seems that ESPN uses 'amateur hour' directors who know nothing of the game. The MLS Cup was almost impossible to watch. I don't want to see all 22 players, the first 30 rows of the grandstand, or planes in the LAX landing pattern all in the same picture on my TV screen. What don't the ESPN crews understand about the phrase 'framing the shot'? Don't the ESPN cameras have a zoom feature? The only time the cameras would get close to the players was during throw-ins or goal kicks or foul disputes. I can't understand how HNIC can follow a 100MPH hockey puck but ESPN can't follow a 40MPH soccer ball. The players were so small on my TV and the ball (silver) was almost invisible that none of the individual skills could be seen. I believe ESPN hates soccer - yes, ESPN hates soccer. ESPN knows nothing about the sport (talk about mispronouncing names, watch a SportsCenter during WC); does not want to know anything about it; does not want soccer to succeed (Max Bretos and Alexei Lalas are hardly positive signs of a commitment to improving soccer telecasts). Close ups of action from MLB, NFL, NBA, Poker, and 1992 replays of World's Strongest Man competitions are more important to ESPN than zooming in on soccer action. ESPN soccer telecasts: total, abject failures!

  9. Gene Jay, November 22, 2011 at 9 a.m.

    From the comments, looks like the debate is shaping up as American bloggers (pro-Harkes) versus world bloggers(anti-Harkes). I am American and most definately liked John Harkes as a broadcaster. Thought he did great job, and had great knowledge of the players no matter who was playing. also gave a nice player perspective. love to hear the anti-Harkes folks provide specifics to support their case. I watch lots of EPL, Bundesliga and serie A and like most of those broadcasters to.

  10. Joe Hosack, November 22, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.

    ESPN does not know soccer, of course they'd fire the wrong guy.
    Ian Drake is the only commentator, sports or politics, that I mute 100%.
    He actually speaks down to his audience.
    He provides no insights into the game because he thinks we will not "understand". Thanks Paul

  11. Shawn Blymiller, November 22, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.

    I am rejoicing that someone finally criticized Ian Darke. It is part of American soccer culture to feel like we need to bring the English in for every soccer position. What happened to Rob Stone or the American play by play that were around before. Mr Darke has this fascination with every little thing that his annointed players do. David Beckham is an amazing player and we all know that. However I am tired of hearing Darkes gaspings every time Beckham gets the ball. John Harked loves to talk about himself and his playing days, but I would much rather hear that than bearing with Darkes lack of understanding of the American soccer culture.
    ESPN needs to seek out educated American soccer players and teach them the television process and culture. There will be a learning curve but this game is only going to continue to grow. It is time to adapt ESPN.
    Oh and by the way get rid of Alexi Lalas he is downright awful. He was only infamous for his hair and beard. His game analysis are always horrible.

  12. Kent James, November 22, 2011 at 9:22 a.m.

    Paul is right, ESPN got rid of the wrong guy. I like most of the British imports that ESPN brought in for the world cup, and Darke seems well-meaning, but it is pretty clear that his knowledge of American soccer is very shallow (in the MLS final he misidentified Carlos Costly! I don't keep close track of the Dynamo, but even I can easily Costly from a distance, he's pretty distinctive looking and can be quite the impact player). While Harkes is not perfect, I think he was one of the best commentators on the American game. PG is also right that he's gotten considerably better as time has gone on. He talks less, gossips less, and provides better analysis. I like Twellman, but his lack of experience shows in his over exuberance; there are more instances than the one PG mentioned of Twellman's excitement overwhelming his ability to comment rationally. I assume this will get better as he gets more comfortable, but Harkes was already there. The main problem with ESPN is their completely clueless camera-work (was mentioned by Tom Symonds). EPL coverage is light-years ahead of MLS coverage. ESPN rarely shows replays, while in the EPL, there are almost instant replays of everything important or controversial (not just goals). They show close-ups of skill, multiple angles of fouls (or potential fouls), etc. Even if Twellman turns out to be the best commentator in the world, he won't be able to improve the viewing experience. ESPN should focus its efforts to improve on its camera work.

  13. Eric Gorski, November 22, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.

    Paul is right to take on ESPN for its Brit love. Darke should not be allowed near an MLS telecast. His calls of the USMNT games are better but are still plagued by a European focus. During one recently friendly, he made endless references to Euro qualifying and upcoming EPL fixtures. That could be fixed with a few words of admonition - if anyone is even listening - but on MLS he is a lost cause.

  14. Bernie Thiel, November 22, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.

    Why the gnashing of teeth over commentators for MLS games? The quality in the booth is a perfect match for the quality of the play on the field--which is to say, amateurish, boring, skill-less and tedious. Ugh. That MLS cup game was worse than the third division English game I watched earlier in the day. Apart from the "big three" on THE Galaxy, I doubt many of the other players on the field could compete above third division English play.

    That said, thank god Harkes is gone. His dull monotone and silly use of English-isms--"that guy's got pace," "he wants to get on the scoresheet," "put the ball on frame"--made me loathe the thought of the 90 minutes I was about to subject myself to. Darke? Whatever. He's a bore, too. But the point of the original column here is right: ESPN knows nothing about football, soccer, footy, whatever you want to call it.

  15. Brian Something, November 22, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.

    How can anyone talk about "Brit love" when the issue is replacing an American with another American?

  16. Brian Something, November 22, 2011 at 9:48 a.m.

    It’s inconceivable that someone who obviously knows the game well and values skillful, possession soccer like Gardner could possibly think John Harkes was doing a good job. He is the Tim McCarver of soccer broadcasting: NOBODY thinks he’s any good. I know people who don’t speak Spanish but will switch to Univision or whatever to watch the same game rather than suffer through Harkes. Does Gardner really support an analyst who praises good fouls, the sort Gardner himself lambasted only a few weeks ago? Harkes is awful and rambling, more interested in making unfunny jokes and name dropping than providing remotely insightful analysis about, you know, the actual game on the field. Wynalda knew what he was talking about but he relentless bitching and negativity was terrible. Twellman is a fantastic analyst. He’s passionate but honest and doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid (as evidenced by him being the only person in ESPN’s MLS Cup pregame who wasn’t on the payroll of David Beckham’s PR firm) but without the corrosiveness of Wynalda. People who want intelligent, honest soccer commentary should be thrilled at this decision. Maybe now we’ll hear more about the game being played and less about the schoolboy hijinks of US international players of the early 90s.

  17. James Froehlich, November 22, 2011 at 10:13 a.m.

    Brian F -- agree completely. Harkes was awful! The content of his comments was bad enough but his blathering on-- often during critical moments of play -- was unforgivable. As for "accents", I could care less as long as they do their job. I'm afraid PG is exercising one of his less like able traits in his tirade against the Brit accents. As someone mentioned above, Paul is quite vocal about the need to use foreign players to help improve the US game, if so, then it is quite irrational to deny that foreign commentators can help on the broadcast side of the bench. Personally, I think that Darke was probably improve just because he doesn't have to cover for Harkes. Regarding, Twellman, I think we need to hold our breath, because I'm not quite as enthused as others!

  18. charles davenport, November 22, 2011 at 10:43 a.m.

    To listen to Darke and Harkes commenting on all the shots that "should" have gone in, one would believe that the score of a typical soccer game is 9-7. Harkes rapidly choose to emulate the british style. Martino is also good. Bring back JP Dellacamara.

  19. beautiful game, November 22, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.

    Beg to disagree Paul...Harkes commentary has no rhythm, winded to a point of ad nauseum, irrelevant, suffocating, and at times purely nonsensical. When a true commentator lets the game speak for itself, he spoke for it. For those that lament for JP Dellacamera's return, ask yourself, if a guy with 35+ years of experience can't tell between a giveaway and a good defensive play for example, and wanders around with constant jibberish, can he be that much better than Harkes?

  20. James Froehlich, November 22, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.

    I w ---- THANK YOU . You nailed JP perfectly.

  21. Carl Walther, November 22, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.

    Why do English fans like Talley Berry even read (and comment on) this blog? I don't know of any American soccer fans who care anything about what a Brit says about our game.

  22. Dannie Whitehouse, November 22, 2011 at 1:17 p.m.

    I really believe we need Brent Musberger and Lou Holtz!!!!!And BTW, All of you are fired!

  23. Talley Berry, November 22, 2011 at 2:50 p.m.

    I'm American but you're right. I don't know why I read it. I like "Soccer on TV" and keep getting sucked into reading the PG email. I must just get bitter because PG gets paid to write about this game that makes him grumpy whenever he watches or thinks about it and I don't.

    I can't stand a lot of English commentators. Don't like Ekoku, Provan, Danny Mills, all the guys who do Serie A on FSC...but the best British ones should logically be better than our best because the stage is much grander over there and they grow up in a soccer-crazy country. The talent pool is deeper and more experienced in England. And if Harkes is our best, they certainly are better.

  24. Rod Colburn, November 22, 2011 at 9:10 p.m.

    I am a die-hard, American-born fan. The quality of soccer play-by-play on U.S. TV has historically been quite poor. ESPN's decision to import British announcers (finally) was a no-brainer. The best of them do a far better job of describing the action in a literate, listenable, even lyrical style than the best Americans. Sure, their knowledge base is heavily rooted in the Premiership, but guess what: They learn pretty quickly about the up-and-coming US-based talent and thus are able to judge that talent in the context of the world's best league. It's invaluable perspective.

    Maybe the next generation of American announcers can raise their game to the global level, but for now they're far behind Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard. The Redcoats are welcome!

  25. Roger Sokol, November 22, 2011 at 10:31 p.m.

    I, too, noticed how poor the production of the MLS Cup was. Whoever decided that a silver ball was to be used for the MLS Cup should be fired. You couldn't see it on a normal size TV. The camera angles and lens settings made it look like the game was a mile away. As for the play by play announcer and commentator, I don't care what accent they have as long as their remarks are germaine to what's happening on the pitch. The most egregious error is not paying attention to what's happening on the pitch and, instead, engaging in the most inane drivel. I want the play by play announcer to follow the action. He can be frugal with his words, but needs to impart the sense and drama of what's happening on the pitch. The EPL announcers on Fox for the most part do an excellent job of that. While many of us commenting here are astute enough to know what's happening, there are undoubtedly a lot of people watching who need those cues from the announcer. (I can recall some 30+ years back when watching soccer for the first times, how important changes in the volume, speed, and/or excitement in the play by play announcer's voice was to clue me in on what was happening.)

  26. Bill Richter, November 23, 2011 at 12:02 a.m.

    Ian Darke: The clown that said, during a rainy USWNT game, that Hope Solo should feel right at home in the rain, since she was from the state of Washington. For those of you that don't know (as Ian didn't know), Hope's hometown of Richland is in the southeast of the state, and due to the mountain ranges between Seattle and Richland, is smack-dab in the middle of a desert.

    Gardner is right on this one, it would be nice if the commentators actually knew something about our players. Although, if I had to pick, I'd rather see Wynalda gone, I'm sick of hearing him bash referees, even after replays from 6 different angles show they got the call right.

  27. R2 Dad, November 23, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.

    The PL perspective, which is driven by English culture as well as the lack of commercials for 90 minutes, is not pressed to fill every pause in the action with wittering nonsense. The wry observation and a little dead air is valued more than a constant stream of voices adding little to the viewers appreciation of the game. Perhaps if ESPN cared less about getting young attractive people in the booth and focused on perspective, experience and voice they might, over time, find their own Cantor.

  28. David Huff, November 23, 2011 at 10:54 a.m.

    I'd rather that we move towards American announcers and if we have to have foreign announcers then mix it up a bit nationality-wise rather than just relying on Brits. I found Ian Darke to be rather banal during the Women's WC, he needs to go. Bring in Jorge Ramos more, he understands the Latin game that we Americans are increasingly more comfortable with.

  29. Bill Anderson, November 23, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.

    John Harkes was bad, and had a bad fake British accent. Ian Darke is worse, and has a bad real British accent. ESPN is wretched, and HATE soccer. Pray that NBC will have a better perspective and a better team of announcers. On the other hand, I am old enough to remember Jim McKay, who would explain the "throw in" rule every EFFING game, and almost every EFFING throw in. So, I guess it could be worse...

  30. Mj Lee, November 24, 2011 at 2:07 a.m.

    ESPN is into the B's. British and Buffoon. Paul already complained about the Brits. But why doesn't he also complain that ESPN keeps throwing us the Buffoon Brothers--Alexi Lalas and Max Bretos? Come on, ESPN. Why do you take away a good guy like Harkes and leave us guys we have to fast forward thru?

  31. Karl Ortmertl, November 24, 2011 at 4:28 a.m.

    I'm surprised that good ex-coaches aren't brought into the mix. Altho' maybe all the good ones are out there coaching until they're too old to do anything anymore. Anyway, it would be nice if there was an announcer to call out what each team is trying to accomplish and what tactics it is trying to use. One problem with the MLS is that because the players are generally so unskilled, they probably are unable to execute much of a game plan anyway. As for Harkes, agreed, he brought nothing to the table. I find Darke's accent pleasant, but also agreed, he just can't seem to muster up any interest in the MLS which, unfortunately, is sort of understandable when you're used to watching a higher callibre of play. You definitely need someone who is immersed in the MLS to do MLS games and, again, an ex-coach may not be a bad way to go.

  32. Andrzej Kowalski, November 26, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.

    I was watching MLS cup and most of the time I could not see the ball, this thing must have greatly influenced the low TV ratings. Why somebody from MLS management did not corrected this during the game?
    This inaction shows how incompetent is MLS leadership.

  33. Rick Figueiredo, November 28, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.

    John Harkes and his lack of knowledge of this game has done more damage to the perception of the American commentator than you can imagine. The man's comments made me cringe and I changed to the spanish station when available to avoid screaming "u idiot!" constantly at the TV. If you think Harkes knew what he was talking about you don't know THE GAME. As for Ian Darke, english, pompous and a prime example of the low end of the british commentary ladder. Not a bad person, mind you, but my son knows more about this game than he does! I have heard only 2 American commentators worth listening to: Brandi Chastain (yes folks a girl) and Alexi Lalas who has improved immensely since he first started. The rest are so far behind that it would be better to just completely turn the sound off.

  34. Brian Something, November 29, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.

    Is there any happy medium between the mindless Anglophilia of so much of the American soccer community and the knee-jerk Brit bashing of Paul Gardner? Some here squeal like wide-eye school girls at anyone with an English or Scottish accent; if he’s British or European, he must be a soccer genius. Gardner immediately dismisses them as crap. What ever happened to judging each individual on his/her merits? Pity...

  35. Gerald Laing, December 1, 2011 at 9:24 a.m.

    Brian: Couldn't say is any better myself.

  36. Joe Giuliano, December 19, 2011 at 10:37 a.m.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you......

    I have worked as the Soccer Broadaster for the Rochester Rhinos (USL) since 1996. Recently, I was hired by the Rochester Lancers of the MISL. I cannot tell you how many times I have contacted ESPN about getting a chance to work on their soccer coverage. Up to this point, NO shot. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

  37. david caetano, March 13, 2012 at 9:42 a.m.

    agree, agree,
    As part of youth development the youth should be listening to game commentators who they can easily identify with including former national team standouts, in particular those who have had overseas professional experience. These commentators will also be individuals who can show more passion and enthusiasm as well as knowledge since most of their soccer experience has been in the USA.
    I also agree with your article in "The World" magazine concerning academy soccer. I played high school soccer late 70's, then Univ of Rhode Island, 1st round Cosmos pick, and pro in Portugal(2 year contract with Benfica, 2nd year w 2nd division Maritimo). The best players should be playing high school ball. This will not regress their development, but on the contrary it will help the development. My logo is "no passion no development". Not only will this promote soccer in local communities, allow players to train and play 5 days a week, but also will increase players interest in competing. Why not, the players peers, most school school students and teachers show daily interest in an environment players are in many ours of the day. Sort of like a small town and their club.

  38. Michael Revivo, June 23, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.

    Ian Darke drives me stark-raving mad! How many decades has the idiot covered games and STILL INSISTS ON MISPRONOUNCING SPANISH NAMES! What a RUBE! What on EARTH makes it okay for anyone to pronounce consistently names ending in "os" as "ahss?" Carlos is NOT pronounced Car Loss (an insurance issue to be sure); Ramos is Rah Moss...

    Clear sign of disrespect to mispronounce names. He seems to get most other names correctly, but Spanish??? He should be given one week to practice and then fire him if he insists on being stupid.

  39. Shawn Blymiller, January 16, 2015 at 9:52 a.m.

    I would like to apologize for being so critical of Alexi Lalas, and John Harkes. They are U.S. soccer legends and I should have shown more respect. Their experience from the highest levels is invaluable. They have improved in their game analysis and their professional demeanor over the last few years. I hope that soccer continues to grow in our country, and that viewership increases.

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