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ESPN Announces 23-Man Squad of Experts for ESPN FC Daily Soccer Show

ESPN has announced their star-studded roster of soccer experts that will appear on its new daily TV show named ESPN FC.

With so many expert analysts, there’ll have to be a rotation policy in place to fit them all in. Here are the 23 experts that ESPN have picked to be on ESPN FC, in alphabetical order:

  • Roger Bennett – columnist and Grantland’s “Men In Blazers” podcast co-host, Bennett covers international and domestic soccer in the United States.
  • Craig Burley – 1998 FIFA World Cup player for Scotland and former Chelsea FC midfielder, he is relocating his family from United Kingdom to the United States to serve primarily as an analyst for ESPN FC on TV.
  • Ian Darke – ESPN’s lead soccer play-by-play commentator.
  • Adrian Healey – ESPN’s play-by-play commentator for MLS.
  • Shaka Hislop – Former Premier League and Trinidad & Tobago National Team goalkeeper, Hislop made history as the starting goalkeeper on Trinidad & Tobago’s only FIFA World Cup team in 2006.
  • Raphael Honigstein – An accomplished German football journalist and author currently based in London, Honigstein’s work has been published widely in both English and German media, and he also appears on several football television programs in Europe. He will contribute insight on German football.
  • Kasey Keller – Former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper and three-time US Soccer Athlete of the year, Keller played 609 professional matches in four countries – Spain, England, Germany and USA. He is studio analyst for MLS and U.S. Men’s National Team matches on ESPN.
  • Alexi Lalas – Former U.S. Men’s National Team player who played in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, Lalas is ESPN’s lead soccer studio analyst.  He is the first U.S. player to have played in the Italian Serie A – returning in 1996 to help launch MLS and was a team executive for three teams.
  • Frank Leboeuf – 1998 FIFA World Cup champion and French National Team player, Leboeuf played mostly for Chelsea in a 17-year professional career.
  • Sid Lowe – An international soccer journalist and columnist based Madrid, Spain, who covers Spanish football for top-line English-language media across the world.
  • Gabriele Marcotti – One of global soccer’s leading journalists, Marcotti is an author and expert on Italian, as well as European football.  He joined ESPN in July 2012 for the launch of, the company’s global soccer digital hub.
  • Paul Mariner – Former England National Team player, Mariner played 18 years in English football.  He became a coach in the United States working with two MLS teams – New England Revolution and Toronto FC.
  • Steve McManaman – One of England’s most decorated footballers and former national team player, McManaman spent nine years with Liverpool FC (1990-1999) and five with Real Madrid FC (1999-2003), becoming the first English footballer to win a Champions League title with a foreign club in 2000.
  • Alejandro Moreno – Former Venezuelan National team player and three-time MLS Cup champion, Moreno serves as match analyst for Mexican National Team and Liga Bancomer MX matches on ESPN networks.
  • Steve Nicol – Former Scotland National Team player, Nicol played professional soccer for 22 seasons highlighted by 13 years with Liverpool FC (1981-1994). He later moved into coaching and led the New England Revolution to it most-successful era in Major League Soccer.
  • José Antonio “Tato” Noriega – ESPN Deportes and ESPN International soccer studio analyst, Tato Noriega is a former Mexican National Team player, who spent 20 years with several clubs in Mexico’s Liga Bancomer MX.
  • Fernando Palomo – Play-by-play commentator for Mexican National Team matches on ESPN (El Tri on ESPN).
  • Derek Rae – ESPN International’s soccer play-by-play commentator currently based in the United Kingdom.
  • Stewart Robson – Former Arsenal FC player, Robson played 14 years of top-flight professional football in England.
  • Tommy Smyth – One of ESPN International’s English language match and studio analyst, Smyth’s hard-hitting punditry and ability to insightfully predict outcomes of matches before they are played have made him popular among soccer fans in and outside the United States.
  • Santiago Solari – Argentine retired professional footballer, Solari played for Atletico Madrid (1999-2000), Real Madrid (2000-2005), Inter Milan (2005-2008) and others, in a career that spanned 15 seasons.
  • Taylor Twellman – One of the most prolific goal-scorers in MLS history, Twellman is lead soccer analyst for the league and U.S. Men’s National Team matches on ESPN.  He began his professional career with three years (1999-2002) in the German Bundesliga playing with 1860 Munich.
  • Peter Walton – Former professional referee in English football, Walton is general manager of the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) in North America.

As you can see from the above list, ESPN will have all of the major stories and analysis covered including the addition of a former referee for his insight. By the amount of talent they’re using to work on the show, it’s obvious that they will continue to have a strong soccer presence despite losing out on the Premier League rights after their joint bid with FOX Sports was defeated by NBC.

ReadExclusive interview with ESPN FC analyst Craig Burley.

ESPN’s 23-man squad will be joined by ESPN FC hosts Max Bretos and Dan Thomas.

About ESPN FC on TV:

The Sunday edition (12 midnight ET) of ESPN FC on TV will be a one-hour program – wrapping up the best highlights, news, reactions and opinions, from the weekend’s soccer action while looking ahead to what the results mean to the teams and their respective leagues.  Monday through Friday (5:30 p.m., ESPN2), the program will air for 30-minute editions each day, highlighting the biggest news and issue of the day in soccer.

The ESPN FC program will integrate several elements of the digital platform’s content via social media, the industry-leading ESPN Stats & Information Group’s data visualization analysis, and more.  Digital versions of the program will be available on

Additional ESPN FC on TV highlights:

  • A daily destination show that will provide U.S. fans with soccer news and information from across the globe;
  • Employ ESPN FC’s global reporters, columnists and team bloggers for breaking news, rumors and player-transfer news, focusing primarily on the Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Spain’s La Liga, Major League Soccer, U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and the Mexican National Team;
  • Interviews with newsmakers, and timely features and profiles of key personalities in the sport;
  • Previews of key matches throughout the soccer calendar year (eg. El Clásico, Manchester Derby, top-tier UEFA Champions League matchups, select FIFA World Cup qualifying matchups such as USA vs. Mexico, and more);
  • Walton, a former licensed professional league match official, will join the show to provide insight ion controversial refereeing decisions in key matches.

ESPN FC launches on August 11 at 10pm ET on ESPN2.

What’s your opinion regarding the pundits they’ve chosen? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

Meanwhile, FOX Sports 1 is scheduled to launch their FOX Soccer Daily show on August 19. As of press time, FOX has made no announcements regarding the talent who will be on their show, but it’ll be interesting to see how their lineup compares to ESPN FC.

FOX Soccer host Rob Stone revealed yesterday that both Eric Wynalda and Warren Barton have been busy at work on the show, and that Stone will not be hosting it.

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  1. craig

    August 2, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Tenured group of footballing punditry. A little bit of every kind of style. During this time ESPN is without Champions and EPL it’s important they keep a relevant profile in the sport. I fully expect NBC to put in an admirable performance over the next three years in their coverage of what I feel is the most watched league in the world. Also glad they’ve kept the seats warm for Darke and Macca, man, I’ll miss those guys doing play by play.

  2. Cantona

    August 1, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Shame Burley won’t be co-commentating on BPL or SPL this season..on the other hand he does speak his mind and will mix it up… Maybe we will see him co-commentate for ESPN? Can’t see him moving here just for one show.


  3. Brad

    August 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Glad to see Tommy Smyth on the show, he’s defnitely one I like to listen to.

  4. Mark Williamson

    August 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Fabulous line-up!! Darke and McManaman live again. real happy about that. Espn? Awesome move. Between NBC, ESPN and Fox, English Premier League and European Football can not help but grow in the U.S. .

  5. Efrain

    August 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Ian Darke and Mcmanaman…. they are working for Sky and ESPN?

    • Christopher Harris

      August 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Darke and McManaman will be working for ESPN and BT for the upcoming season. Darke will be commentating matches for BT Sport. Macca will be providing analysis as a pundit, but they’ll also be working for ESPN too.

      • Efrain

        August 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm

        How does that work? They fly back and forth from the States to the UK? Or are they staying here in the states?

        • Christopher Harris

          August 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm

          They’ll fly back and forth, or go into the studio when needed.

  6. Wongo1

    August 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    This line up is not so great. I can see so much poor talent.

    Roger Bennett Okay as a podcast host but as a pundit????

    Adrian Healey I have heard a few MLS broadcast and can’t say this is a guy I would want to listen to.

    Alexi Lalas WHY????? Worse pundit in the world.

    Gabriele Marcotti Average at best

    Tommy Smyth average at best

    Taylor Twellman Please NOOOOOO!!~

    • Mark Williamson

      August 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      Wongo, go away. I take it nothing will make you happy. Sorry, buddy. Just saying.

      • Foxy_Woxy

        August 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm


      • Wongo1

        August 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm

        Listen mate I have seen all of these folks in action and that is my opinion of the weaker ones, if you don’t like what I have to say that is your opinion to give as well.

      • Wongo1

        August 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        By the way brilliant commentary and punditry makes me happy. Please take Gary Neville as exhibit A for a pundit and Ian Darke for commentary exhibit B!!

  7. Rob Donnelly

    August 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Is that a different Tommy Smyth?

    from that description it cant be the same annoying fool that made me turn the sound down on my TV every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.

  8. gillyrosh

    August 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Yay for Derek Rae.

    I need Lalas and Bennett in small doses and Smyth not at all.

    But you can’t have everything, right?

  9. Chris

    August 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Wow, Fox might as well cancel thier show. How in the world could they come up with something better than that.

    • john marzan

      August 2, 2013 at 4:18 am

      michael davies, rog’s partner, should be on the FOX panel of talents.

  10. DanL

    August 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Pretty happy with that line up. Apart from Lalas and Smyth. Hopefully with that many pundits, they won’t be on that often.

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