- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
As U.S. soccer fans look to World Cup 2014, some of us are concerned not about uncovering a striker with touch but a play-by-play announcer with an American accent.
This is not to disparage England's Ian Darke and Martin Tyler, whom ESPN shrewdly corralled to call the games from South Africa. They are beyond splendid. With his plangent tones, Tyler (below) made David Villa's goal for Spain against Portugal sound like a soliloquy from Hamlet. They are, to use a phrase booted around throughout the tournament, quality.
Their brilliance comes at a price, though: For many, the game on TV still sounds foreign. There are Yanks, such as JP Dellacamera (ESPN's radio voice) and Dave O'Brien, who have been tried on the tube and, for various reasons (some unfathomable), have been found wanting.
American announcers, many of whom never played the game and did not spend their formative years watching it, have attempted everything to get up to speed, including standing for hours on the sidelines of their kids' youth soccer leagues. But naturally their ability to call the action pales beside the erudition of their British counterparts, who grew up breathing the Premier League and the English lower divisions.
That's the nub. Rather than trying to force-feed a big name with a Berlitz course in the Beautiful Game, ESPN should begin now to bring someone carefully up through the minors. Perhaps the network should arrange to install a likely prospect in England for a season at a lower-division team. There, he (or she) could breathe the game while acquiring these fundamentals:
• Soccer chops.
Particularly the phraseology: pace, work rate, hand ball, the woodwork. But (and this is important) avoid referring to nations in the plural: "Spain are going through." By season's end, problems should be nil.
• A distinctive "gooaaaallll" call.
Let's face it, this is the equivalent of our home run call.
• A verbal rhythm.