ESPN have announced the commentators for the World Cup quarterfinals.
ESPN have decided not to feature Efan Ekoku, Fernando Palomo, Daniel Mann, Taylor Twellman and Roberto Martinez in the commentary booth for the quarterfinals. Instead, ESPN have teamed up Jon Champion/Stewart Robson, Ian Darke/Steve McManaman, Derek Rae/Kasey Keller and Adrian Healey/Alejandro Moreno.
With so few games remaining, the competition for commentary positions is at a premium. For some of the commentators or co-commentators who won’t be featured in the quarterfinals, there remains the possibility that we’ll see some of them in the semi-finals.
Based on the assignments below, Champion/Robson for the France-Germany game makes total sense since both commentators have announced many of the European-centric games this World Cup. Plus, Robson has a lot of experience co-commentating Bundesliga games during the season.
For the Brazil-Colombia game, I’m not impressed by ESPN’s decision to put Darke and McManaman in the booth. Macca was poor last weekend for the Brazil-Chile match, and Darke’s commentating is getting tiresome. How many times can we expect to hear “[insert player name] plays for [insert Premier League club]” on Thursday? With both the USA and England out, the combination of Darke/Macca seems forced. I’m not sure whether it’s written into their contract that they get the highest profile games, but in my personal opinion, the novelty of Darke/Macca commentating games has worn off. Underneath the pleasant personalities, there doesn’t appear to be much substance.
Darke will commentate the World Cup Final. Either Twellman or McManaman will presumably partner him.
For the Belgium-Argentina game, I’m disappointed that ESPN has decided to select Kasey Keller instead of Efan Ekoku. Keller is an ideal analyst to have in the studio when the discussion turns to goalkeeping (he was at his best I’ve ever seen him post-USA/Belgium match, with his opinions regarding Tim Howard), but he doesn’t belong in the commentary booth.
Lastly, the appointment of Healey and Moreno for the Netherlands vs Costa Rica game seems forced. Daniel Mann deserves to be in that slot based on his strong commentary debut for ESPN this World Cup. Moreno, without Palomo, is much more palatable, but it’s just a shame that he’s not going to be partnered with Mann.
Here’s the complete list of commentators:
Friday, July 4
Quarter-finals — France vs Germany, Noon ET
• English language: ESPN2 and WatchESPN
• Commentators: Jon Champion and Stewart Robson
Quarter-finals — Brazil vs Colombia, 4pm ET