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Martin Tyler Returning to ESPN for World Cup 2014 Commentary

espn 300x300 Martin Tyler Returning to ESPN for World Cup 2014 Commentary

Martin Tyler will return to ESPN for the next World Cup where he’ll be commentating World Cup 2014, says the Associated Press.

It’s quite an incredible achievement to secure Martin Tyler for two World Cup tournaments in a row. The man is hands down the best soccer commentator in the world. And by having Tyler in such a prominent place in ESPN’s line-up of talent, it gives the network a great ability to hire other talent who want to work alongside him. And it also shows the continued commitment ESPN is making to the sport in United States.

Going into World Cup 2010, the surprising factor about ESPN’s World Cup commentary team is that Ian Darke has been better than Tyler. Both gentlemen have completely different styles of commentating. Tyler is understated, more impartial and can say more in a few words than others can say in several minutes. Darke, on the other hand, is closer to an American commentator in the way that he’s more enthusiastic in his voice and words, and is more conversational.

Neither Tyler or Darke are perfect. Perhaps the perfect commentator would be someone with a style that was in between the two. But to each his own. Tyler has seemed pretty drab at times, especially in the first few days of broadcasting where he seemed to be trying to find his spot. But his commentary during the Round of 16 has been exemplary. And Darke has sometimes been too over the top and partial to the United States where he would be better curbing his enthusiasm, even if just a little bit.

No news yet on whether Ian Darke will return to ESPN in 2014. Let’s hope he and Roberto Martinez, just to name two professionals, return alongside Tyler.

Overall, soccer fans in the United States should feel lucky that the country has one of the best, if not the best, World Cup viewing experiences in the world. Fans and pundits in the United Kingdom have been complaining up and down about ITV and BBC’s coverage. Without a doubt, the top talent in terms of commentary and analysis on ESPN this summer.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

52 Responses to Martin Tyler Returning to ESPN for World Cup 2014 Commentary

  1. jose says:

    martin tyler is a bad ass. espn is lucky.

  2. RedMD says:

    You have to think that Andy Gray will be along for Euro 2012 and/or WC 2014 . The FSC coverage has been terribly weak, helped in no small part by their inability to use video footage of the event. Overall, though, production values continue to suffer over there and can’t imagine them being able to lure over better talent until things improve.

  3. Kevin_Amold says:

    Am I the only one that thinks Martin Tyler is the Joe Buck of baseball? Seems like he can’t get excited and that he’s reading the want ads as he’s halfheartedly calling the game. Well, unless England is playing. I’d rather watch Univision than Mr. Tyler.

    I’m probably not in the mainstream here, I realize this.

    • David the Yank says:

      Tyler is more intellectual and can be understated. I thought he was quite weak (for him) during the group stages, but had terrific calls of both quarterfinals! Excellent work for both the big matches.

      Is he going to do both semi-finals or are they now giving Darke one?

      I would pay some serious money if I could never hear the awful Ekoku ever again! Harkes is very poor; is there no one who could analyze alongside? Would prefer someone who understands the game far better than those 2.

      • This One Guy in Detroit says:

        You had my thumbs up ’til you started bashing on Harkes. He’s been solid throughout this World Cup, and the animosity toward him among some fans is unfounded.

      • KEvin_Amold says:

        Guess I’m just not as intellectual as you enlightened ones.

      • KEvin_Amold says:

        Guess I’m just not one of the enlightened that loves Tyler. He bores me. I love Ian Darke.

    • eplnfl says:

      Some resemblance actually to the famous baseball broadcaster but Tyler as is pointed out is much more thoughtful then Buck ever could be.

      I have to say for me not having seen him in a studio before that Roberto Martinez was excellent. Given his language ability ESPN can become a home for him on the English and Spanish sides.

  4. eplnfl says:

    Note to ESPN keep Steve McMananan home.

  5. SMOOTH says:

    NO MORE LALAS PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. This One Guy in Detroit says:

    World Cup grades so far:

    Martin Tyler B
    Ian Darke A
    Adrian Healey B-
    Derek Rae B+

    Ally McCoist A-
    John Harkes B
    Efan Ekoku C
    Robbie Mustoe B-

    Steve McManaman B-
    Ruud Gullit C
    Roberto Martinez A+
    Alexi Lalas A
    Jurgen Klinsmann B-

    Chris Fowler B+
    Mike Tirico A
    Bob Ley B

    (Am I forgetting one of the studio analysts?)

    Most of these grades are a bit better than I’d have expected going into the tournament. ESPN’s work has just been outstanding — often astounding — all around.

  7. Kevin says:

    Tyler and Darke have been fine, but they need to lay off telling us about every player that plays in England. It is like they forget their audience and try to spruce our interest by telling us the obscure sub from Honduras plays for Wigan. If we were in England that would matter.

    Tyler is a bit overrated to me the last few years. He seems tired much of the time. He was back to phenomenal doing Germany/Argentina I thought. His call of the 4th Germany goal was magnificent and what I remember from him during his “glory days.” Darke is a funny guy and was great doing the USA games. He just seemed to fall in to telling us background about the players based in England even worse than Martin.

    At one point during the Uruguay match the announcers were speaking about the amazing amount of ex-Manchester United players that had made an impact at this World Cup. They rolled through 4 or 5 names and left out the freaking American! At least get Tim Howard in there if you are going to drone on about another English club.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Kevin, I completely agree. I’ve lost count of the number of times that the commentators have pointed out which footballers play for which Premier League club. It was OK at first, but it’s become annoying.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Attaturk says:

        It’s almost as if ESPN has plans to cover the English Premiere League…oh, right.

        • Pakapala says:

          Nonsense! ESPN also cover the MLS and La Liga. And via their online TV, they also cover Dutch, Italian, Portuguese leagues, among others. Why don’t we hear endless mention of players who are playing now (or worst, used to play) for clubs in those leagues? This has nothing to do with ESPN doing shameless plugs for the EPL because they cover it. It’s just a bad habit on the part of the british announcers.

  8. Cricketlover says:

    I think it’s very good news that ESPN will be bringing back Martin Tyler in 2014. I also hope that they will bring back Roberto Martinez who has been excellent as an analyst.

    Let’s hope that by 2014 there is an American who is worthy of working as a commentator. John Harkes has been absolutely terrible and has been the weak link in an otherwise good team of commentators. I’ve been very unhappy that ESPN feels it necessary to have John Harkes doing the commentary in the later stages of the tournament and I fear he may do one of the semi-final matches and maybe even the finals.

  9. Annamaria says:

    Agree that John Harkes has been awful. He should never be allowed to do another game. I turn the sound off whenever he’s on.

  10. Angry Trey says:

    I have a question. Who has the rights to the World Cup in the UK? Who is calling the games for them if some of the best from England are calling games for ESPN?

    • The Gaffer says:

      ITV and BBC share the World Cup games and split the matches up. Commentators and co-commentators have included Andy Townsend, Guy Mowbray, John Motson, Jonathan Pearce, Steve Wilson, Simon Brotherton and Steve Bower, with co-commentary from Mark Lawrenson, Mark Bright, Mick McCarthy and Martin Keown.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  11. SF_soccerdude says:

    ESPN coverage has been excellent. Tyler and Darke both fantastic, I feel like I know nothing about South Africa (I actually do) I don’t have a sense of the lay of the land or wish you were here moments. Maybe not too much too capture outside the Stadium or surrounding areas.

    For the most part its been Studio, Stadium, Remote Shot @ Bar with Fans… perhaps a little one dimensional.

  12. Steven P. says:

    The Tyler – McCoist partnership has been the best. Tyler- Ekoku partnership was good at the begining but now doesn’t seem as good. Not sure why. The worst pairing has been anyone and Harkes. I used to like Harkes but his lack of insight comes through right away and he doesn’t talk as intelligently as the others. Too bad as I’m sure he’s a nice guy but just seems out of his depth. Very good move by ESPN to get Tyler for the next World Cup.

  13. jspec says:

    Tyler & Darke great, BOB Ley great, Martinez great. HArkes 100% better than he is on MLS telecast. Why do u all hate the guy? Honestly I love hm with Darke. Go Harkes, pay no attention to the haters.

    • Attaturk says:

      I’ve had no real problem with Harkes and he seems to have a nice relationship with Darke.

      However, sometimes I do wonder if Harkes and Mary Carillo switched places how long it would take us to notice the former was at Wimbledon and the latter was at the World Cup?

  14. Randall says:

    Agreed with most that Tyler has gotten better as the tournament has gone on, but he did have some pretty drab games to work with after the opener. Darke and Derek Rae have also been quite good and would be great to see back again with Tyler in 2014. None of the game analysts have stood out, although I’d like to have seen more of Robbie Mustoe, he always seemed thoughtful and in tune with the game going on the pitch, unlike some other analysts (Harkes). No doubt though the star has been Martinez. Put him, Klinsmann, maybe McManaman, and Bob Ley in the studio and leave the rest of the babbling idiots (Guillut and Lalas especially) behind!

  15. SSReporters says:

    ESPN is gambling on Tyler still sounding fresh and not senile when he’s headed for almost 70 years old in 2014?

    I love Tyler but Jon Champion should be the way to go in 2014.

    John Harkes is filled with cliches, how teams win on emotion and heart, and talks way too much. He’s a disaster.

  16. John Boschini says:

    I’m stoked to see Tyler getting a contract extension. He sounded a bit bored during the first round of group matches, but then again, weren’t we all bored?

    My favorite commentator thus far has been Derrick Rae. The only one I would replace is the next time around is Adrian Healey. It’s not that he’s done a bad job but I would rather see him paired up with Tommy Smyth for the radio broadcasts, which have been solid.

    JP Dellecamera is the best American soccer announcer and I think he’s earned his TV spot for the 2012 Euros and the 2014 World Cup.

    • This One Guy in Detroit says:

      “He sounded a bit bored during the first round of group matches, but then again, weren’t we all bored?”

      No. Not me, at least. I’d waited four years for the World Cup to start. I was lapping up those early games like a starving man at a buffet table.

  17. dlink09 says:

    Efan Ekoku is my favorite, guy says what he sees. no hype or bullshit.
    Martin & Efan make perfect team.. Ian Drake & muted John Harkes make good USA tv.

    FSC coverage is pathetic. Andy gray & the other guy from sky sports are not good to me..

    so is ESPN covering EPL this season???

  18. Pakapala says:

    Tyler is a shell of himself, sure he had picked it up a bit in the recent games but I worry by the time 2014 come around he’ll be like John Madden (still in the booth because of his legend). I hope by then he does not get the biggest games.
    Efoku is bad but seem to do OK when paired with Tyler; I also like the pairing of McCoist with Tyler.
    Darke should be re-signed, as well as Derek Rae. Harkes has been awful when paired with Tyler, but a bit better when paired with Ian Darke. This pairing of Darke and Harkes could continue in 2014, as long as Harkes keep improving.

  19. Jose says:

    Roberto Martinez has been the revelation of the World Cup. Kudos to whoever made the decision to hire him.

  20. Jeff says:

    I would keep everyone they currently have and add Robbie Earle and Andy Gray. By the way, Ian Darke is the best. Him, Tyler, and Robbie Earle are my favorite Premiership commentators.

  21. Jeff says:

    Martin Tyler A
    Ian Darke A+
    Adrian Healey B+
    Derek Rae A-

    Ally McCoist A
    John Harkes B-
    Efan Ekoku B
    Robbie Mustoe B+

    Steve McManaman B-
    Ruud Gullit C
    Roberto Martinez A+
    Alexi Lalas B
    Jurgen Klinsmann A-

    Chris Fowler B-
    Mike Tirico C
    Bob Ley C

  22. John Harpes says:

    I share some the concerns about Martin Tyler during the next World Cup. I think ESPN will have to pull back his workload by half in order to get the best out of him.

    John Harkes is better than Marcelo Balboa. I think we can agree on that. But his voice just doesn’t cut it. It grates and cracks like a pubescent boy at times. The best thing he could to improve his commentary, besides providing actual insight, is to speak in complete sentences. I’m no English major but it’s striking how often he just mangles phrases together to get his point across.

  23. Gunter Z says:

    ” The man is hands down the best soccer commentator in the world.”

    Really? Do you mean in English? Because there are quite a few Brazilian, French and Italian commentators that really capture the essence of the game better. Even if you do not understand those languages, you can tell they know what they are talking about, they do not try ram facts and ideas to the viewers and celebrate each goal like it is the last one they will ever see. Tyler can be very boring at times.

    Gaffer, this site is really good, but please do not make comments like “best in the world”, I’m sure even you have seen the trouble that tag has caused this summer to England, it’s league, it’s players. “best in the world”, then sent packing in the best fashion.

  24. David the Yank says:

    I wanted to add to my comments above, especially if anyone from ESPN or Fox is lurking on this site. It has not been easy trying to watch the World Cup in this country over the last 30 years. There were Cups in which most matches were completely unavailable, then Cups in which 95% of the matches were only available in Spanish via fuzzy UHF signal, then Cups in which we got most or all of the matches, but were subjected to Charlie Jones calling the final for NBC, or (worse) the horrendous baseball announcers from 2006. So, ESPN, please understand that ALL of the above comments are minor quibbles. You did an absolutely terrific job, and frankly, some of us were quite nervous that past mistakes would be repeated. But you came through: Tyler & Darke & Rae were terrific, Healey worse, but he still understands the game far better than any prior ESPN or US WC commentator. The HD pictures were amazing, and the quality of your pre- and post-game coverage was unlike anything this country has ever before experienced. BRAVO!!

    (+ the prescience to hire analysts from Spain, Germany & Holland!!! Well done again.)

    Of course I’d like to think our vast country can produce analysts with more international insight and/or broadcasting experience than Lalas and Harkes. Ley & Fowler are American, and they were far from token; they were excellent! Sure, it took Mike Tirico quite a long time before he stopped saying the hockey ‘goaltender’ and finally realized the English-speaking world calls the position goalkeeper, but he’s enthusiastic and did fine. If you bring the whole lot back for Brazil, I won’t have any complaints. (But please take a page from Breen & Jackson & Van Gundy on basketball, or McCarver on baseball, or Collinsworth or Jaworsky on the NFL: in each case, they ALL know the rules. It is not acceptable for analysts like Harkes & Ekoku, who both presumably played the game, to be so clueless about the Laws, including the offside rule, the penalty encroachment rule, etc. They were very very poor throughout the tournament and that is one major announcer job: to explain the rules and what the referee actually called.)

    Again, ESPN, job extremely well done, and thank you very, very much!

  25. Carolyn says:

    World Cup grades so far:

    Martin Tyler A- (had a slow start but now is at the top of his game)
    Ian Darke A- (has done well and will forever be associated with calling USA’s goal against Algeria)
    Adrian Healey B
    Derek Rae B+

    Ally McCoist A- (has been steady and insightful)
    John Harkes D- (unintelligibale, non-insightful, and hard to follow. Why ESPN continues to have him do the quarters, semis and possibly the final is beyond me)
    Efan Ekoku B- (started well but seems to have strayed lately)
    Robbie Mustoe B- (steady but not overly impressive)

    Steve McManaman B (has done OK)
    Ruud Gullit B (has done OK and has surprised me with his knowledge)
    Roberto Martinez A+ (the real standout amongst the analysts)
    Alexi Lalas C (the weakest analyst but not terribly bad and passable)
    Jurgen Klinsmann B+ (definitely the 2nd best analyst on show)

    Chris Fowler B- (done OK)
    Mike Tirico C (passable but easily confused with soccer terminology)
    Bob Ley B- (done OK)

    Bringing back Martin Tyler in 2014 is a safe bet since he has been so good for so long. Ian Darke should be the next commentator ESPN should bring back. Calling that USA goal against Algeria and it being played so often on American TV has made Ian Darke the voice of USA soccer.

    Finally, I wouldn’t mind Roberto Martinez being the next coach of the USA national team. He would be a terrific appointment. If not, ESPN should definitely bring him back as an analyst. The guy is pure class.

    • David the Yank says:

      Klinsmann has to be our #1 choice (again).
      Martinez would be an excellent second choice.
      A few more, then Bradley…

    • David says:

      I agree with your grades for the most part, even though it’s evident you favor English analysts of American ones. Harkes definitely is the weak link, but I think it’s a toss-up between Lalas and McManaman. If anything, I’d give it to Lalas because of the complete and utter arrogance McManaman had about England’s chances in the group. Lalas seems to be a fan amongst the American viewers and hated by the ex-pats watching the ESPN coverage for his blunt opinions, particularly in regards to England.

      Overall, I find it hard to bash ESPN on this one. The reason guys like Harkes, Lalas, McManaman and the others are there is for diversity purposes. While it favors the English with their commentators and the Americans as the hosts in the studio, you basically have a representative from each major country in the tournament (excluding S America) and I’ve enjoyed listening to Jurgen, Gullit and Martinez talk about their respective home lands but still maintain a solid head about their chances (unlike Lalas and McManaman).

  26. David the Yank says:

    Oh, ESPN, I just had a thought for 2014 as lead (american) analyst: Kasey Keller!!! He’s far more well known in this country than either Harkes or Balboa was when they were hired. He’s far far more articulate (I’ve spoken to him). He’s played in the Bundesliga, La Liga, EPL and MLS. He speaks fluent German & Spanish (see teams remaining in this tournament). He almost single-handedly (or two-handedly) beat Brazil in 1998. I can’t think of a better American ex-player to talk authoritatively about the game.

    • This One Guy In Detroit says:

      Yeah, Kasey Keller does have the voice, delivery and demeanor to be a good TV guy. Would love if he’s ready to jump into the broadcasting game. (And the way he’s been playing these past few weeks, that decision just might be getting sped up for him…)

  27. John Bartley says:

    Oh God! have we got to put up with Martin Tyler on sky for another 2 years? The most usless football commentator on tv. He and the excitable scottish school girl Andy Gray can ruin even the best football matches. Tyler rarely mentions who has the ball (probably because like me he hasn’t got a clue)and continually reads from carefully prepared scripts which have little or nothing to do with what is actually going on. I wouldn’t let him or Gray commentate on a two tortoise race.
    Come on Sky you can do better than this.

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