Soccer fans in the United States watching the Turkey against Czech Republic game were in for a double treat on Sunday. There was the incredible comeback from Turkey who found themselves two nil down but came back to win the match 3-2, which knocked the Czechs out of the tournament. But there was also the pleasure of experiencing ESPN commentator Derek Rae and co-commentator Andy Gray working together.
The two Scots were terrific showing a wonderful chemistry and rapport as if they had been working together for years.
Gray, especially, showed his brilliance and the value he adds to the coverage of matches. His forthright manner is so refreshing. For example, he called out Hamit Altintop for pretending to be injured so the ref would stop play and the Turkish right back could not be caught out of position. Gray also explained how the Turks had a tough time finding players to pass to in the middle of the park because of Czech Republic’s five man midfield, and how Turkey would need to resort to different tactics such as long balls up top. Within one minute of saying that, that’s exactly what Turkey did.
Gray is a perfect fit for ESPN and American soccer fans. The way that he’s so naturally enthusiastic about the games makes you want to watch them. Plus, I find myself listening to the commentating more closely. I’ve learned something in every match I’ve watched so far where Andy Gray has been co-commentating.
Rae meanwhile has been his usual self, which is a huge compliment. His knowledge of the facts and figures regarding players is impressive and he always adds credibility to ESPN’s coverage.
Derek Rae feels like such a natural fit alongside Andy Gray that you have to wonder whether Rae deserves the chance to move up the ladder and land a coveted spot with TWI to bring coverage of Premier League soccer to a worldwide audience. I’m sure Rae feels comfortable living in the United States, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s offered a bigger and better opportunity in the near future.