Whether you like or dislike Tommy Smyth’s soccer analysis, there’s no doubt that he’s been an important part of the history of soccer on US television. Sadly, today was his last day at ESPN.
Smyth, who is most famous for his catchphrase “Bulge in the old onion bag,” bid farewell to ESPN today after a career than spanned 24 years at the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader of Sports. Smyth will continue his radio work at Sirius XM FC (The Grumpy Pundits show with Rodney Marsh) as well as co-commentary for the Philadelphia Union TV broadcasts.
For many soccer fans in the United States, his time alongside Derek Rae on the UEFA Champions League broadcasts in the early 2000s was a memorable highlight. His chemistry with Rae as well as Smyth’s excitement and passion for the sport seeped through the television set in very formative years for soccer on US television. Two games, in particular, that stand out are his co-commentary work for the Champions League Finals involving Liverpool-AC Milan in 2005 and Manchester United-Bayern Munich in 1999.
“Tommy Smyth with a Y” as he liked to be called joined ESPN in 1993. In addition to the UEFA Champions League broadcasts on ESPN, Smyth was a familiar face and voice on ESPN’s Soccernet Press Pass as well as ESPN FC. His career included World Cup TV and radio broadcasts
At ESPN, Smyth has called more than 3,000 international matches from leagues all over the world. His credits include providing game analysis for ESPN’s telecast of European championship qualifiers, the Copa Libertadores, the South American Super Cup, Brazilian national championships, the Dutch league and the Italian Super Cups.
Smyth served as a game analyst for ESPN and ESPN2’s coverage of the 1998 FIFA Men’s World Cup in France. He also provided studio analysis for ESPN2’s World Cup 2Night, and ESPN & ESPN2’s pre-game and halftime coverage. Smyth served as a co-host of Latin Futbol Weekly, a weekly South American soccer report that aired weekly on ESPN2, and was seen in more than 200 other countries via ESPN International (1993-99). He called World Cup ’94 action for the One-on-One Radio Network.
Smyth has also provided game analysis for Major League Soccer’s NY/NJ Metrostars on a New York regional network as well as select national MLS telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2. In the summer of 1999, he served as co-host of the first soccer call-in show on New York’s WFAN Radio – The Metro Soccer Show.
Smyth estimates that he has commentated over 8,000 games in his lifetime.
He will certainly be missed.