In a move that releases a collective, “Hoorah!” from most American soccer fans I know, Grant Wahl reports over at SI.com that ESPN will not bring back John Harkes for color commentary in 2012. Harkes has been a consistent lightning rod for viewer angst during ESPN’s coverage of the domestic game, and has learned of his status with the company.
The analyst who will replace Harkes is another USMNT veteran, who is a rising star in the business. Taylor Twellman will be moved up from the #2 color slot for domestic coverage to the top chair. The former MLS MVP and Golden Boot Winner in 2005 for New England has made great strides in the booth over the past year, after his playing career was shortened by persistent post-concussion symptoms. In addition to announcing a few matches for ESPN, he replaced Kyle Martino as the color commentator for the Philadelphia Union alongside J.P. Dellacamera. He also was called in as a studio analyst on occasion, including during yesterday’s MLS Cup.
While Harkes seemed to have preconceptions about certain teams and players, Twellman has developed a reputation for wearing his emotion on his sleeve. He doesn’t not pull punches on the air, which should be a refreshing change from the somewhat predictable Harkes. I think this is a wise move for ESPN. It shows that they remain serious about US Soccer, and could put pressure on NBC heading into the 2014 contract renewals.
According to Wahl, the other elements of ESPN’s coverage will also return in 2012, including Ian Darke, Adrian Healey, and Alexi Lalas.
Wahl’s report also contains speculation about NBC’s search for it’s on-air talent, but we’ll wait until clearer guidance is handed down to add our own views. The only other thing that sounds concrete is that Dellacamera will remain at FOX Soccer, which is unfortunate. Dellacamera’s voice is nearly synonymous with US Soccer over the years, and it’s unclear where Dellacamera’s talents will be plied.
What do you think? How do you feel about the choice of Taylor Twellman to replace John Harkes? And who would you like to see given a shot at NBC’s brand new coverage?
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Ukraine will be ready for World Cup play-off: Scotland boss Clarke
- Avram Glazer defends Man Utd reign after troubled season
- Mbappe says he consulted Macron over PSG deal
- West Ham’s Zouma in court over ‘cat abuse’ video
- Mbappe says he will not overstep role as a player under PSG deal
- Dortmund name Terzic as new head coach, sign Ozcan from Cologne
- Man City’s Mendy pleads not guilty to nine sex offences
- New Man Utd boss Ten Hag aims to smash Liverpool-City duopoly
- Teenager Fati summoned by Spain for Nations League matches
- Guardiola hails ‘legends’ as Man City prepare to party