Here at World Soccer Talk, we will continue to take the lead by identifying the new generation of candidates for soccer television commentary positions on major national television networks in the United States, with particular emphasis on English-language broadcasts.
In March 2013, we identified John Strong as the best home-grown English-language soccer play-by-play commentator and we voiced our opinion to FOX Sports President and COO Eric Shanks, who had assigned Gus Johnson to the number one soccer play-by-play position instead.
Shanks decided to end the Gus Johnson experiment in September 2014 and promoted Strong from freelancer to the #1 soccer play-by-play position in January 2015.
Since then, a new generation of aspiring American play-by-play broadcasters, both men and women, have used Strong as a template for calling soccer matches as they develop and hone their broadcasting skills.
Six weeks ago, we identified injured U.S. Men’s National Team and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jermaine Jones as a potential candidate for a television studio pundit role at FOX Sports.
Jones made his debut as a guest studio pundit for FOX Sports during the Mexico vs United States World Cup qualifying matches at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on June 11.
World Soccer Talk will continue to track Jones’ progress as a television studio pundit as his playing career is expected to wind down after World Cup Russia 2018.
On Sunday June 18, FOX Sports Executive Producer of World Cup Soccer David Neal made a late substitution by replacing former U.S. Men’s National Team member Brad Friedel with former U.S. Women’s National Team member and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Aly Wagner as co-commentator/match analyst to call the Cameroon versus Chile FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 match on FS2.
Wagner called the match with her usual FOX Sports women’s soccer broadcast partner JP DellaCamera from a sound booth at FOX Sports’ Pico Boulevard production facility in Los Angeles. The telecast was Wagner’s first experience calling a men’s international soccer match on a nationally-distributed U.S. television network.
Video clip from the Chile-Cameroon telecast on FS2:
Besides calling the Cameroon versus Chile match, Wagner has appeared on Confederations Cup Tonight shows on FS1 on evenings after matches, as well as the Confederations Cup Preview Show which first aired on the FOX Network on June 3. Her analysis of Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo as a “scientist” is one example of how she uses her people-reading skills to make an astute observation, which she was able to communicate and inform viewers.