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ESPN Announces Commentators For World Cup Quarterfinals

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

• English language: ESPN and WatchESPN
• Commentators: Ian Darke and Steve McManaman


Saturday, July 5

Quarter-finals — Belgium vs Argentina, Noon ET

• English language: ABC and Watch ABC
• Commentators: Derek Rae and Kasey Keller

Quarter-finals — Holland vs Costa Rica, 4pm ET

• English language: ESPN and WatchESPN
• Commentators: Adrian Healey and Alejandro Moreno

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  1. Flyvanescence

    July 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Disappointed Mann didnt get a semifinal but i do like Healey (who id have dropped).

    I understand the criticisms of Darke but hearing him and Macca together gives me a great fuzzy feeling inside somewhere. I really enjoyed them in the Brasil-Colombia game. Ill take all i can get.

  2. Gringo

    July 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    In one of the group stage games, Derek Rae mentioned a player who plays for Torino, and as a brief aside, talked about the plane crash that killed much of the Torino team back in the 1950’s. It was something I’d not known about, and in an instant I became more knowledgable about the history of soccer.

    Derek Rae, and Darke, and Champion, etc., all have a deep level of knowledge, understanding and appreciation for the history of the sport. To have this, you must also have a passion for it, which they all clearly do.

    That is why, among myriad other reasons, FOX’s plan for having Gus Johnson as their lead man for the next two World Cups is such an awful decision. I’ve been following world football for the last 20 years, and I consider myself well informed, including that of the history of the game. But many Americans do not have a really broad grasp of the history, the clubs, stadiums, the managers, the players, the tragedies, the triumphs, and so on. To have announcers like Darke and Rae is so important because not only do they do a great job of announcing the action, they educate. A soccer education needs to progress in this country. Having Gus Johnson at the microphone is taking a HUGE step back in this regard.

    • Burnsey

      July 5, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Great summary……send this to Fox. It also helps to have Robson and Ekoku etc as the analysts for the same reason. While those guys are watching Sevilla v Leverkuesen in the Europa League, Gus is watching Maryland v Wake in college basketball!

  3. Gringo

    July 4, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Count how many times Moreno starts off his sentences with “We talked about it before….”

    It is maddening. If you talked about it before, why keep repeating it?!!

  4. Andrew

    July 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    What?!?!? Ian Darke is a godsend and has been amazing this world cup! I was actually disappointed he isn’t doing a game today and tomorrow. Champion and Robson should do whatever games Ian Darke can’t do. Darke isn’t just the best commentator at the World Cup, he’s the best sports commentator in the world of all time!

  5. Faithless

    July 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Daniel Mann and the true professionalism of Champion and Robson have been the standouts in this world
    Cup. Darke is too much a cheerleader when he is with Twellman, hopefully he settles back down with Macca.

  6. Mark Williamson

    July 4, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Maybe it is not the venue to give plugs for the EPL and the associated players playing in the World Cup, but it does bode well for increasing the popularity of the EPL in the U.S.. For that reason I have no problem with Darke including that in his commentary. It is always nice to see the game brought to a higher level listening to him.

  7. john marzan

    July 4, 2014 at 1:11 am

    men in blazers will not like you trashing sir ian darke.

  8. R.O

    July 3, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Disappointed that Efan Ekoku won’t be teamed up with Derek Rae. That combo was very good. Keller is so-so. Sometimes good other times not so much.

    With the USA now out, hopefully I.D won’t do the same nonsense he did in the USA-Germany and USA-Belgium game. Macca may keep him in check.

    Liked Jon Champion and Stewart Robson and glad they were given the Germany-France game.

    Alejandro Moreno was ok except when he was teamed up with Fernando Palomo.

  9. goatslookshifty

    July 3, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Darke will still yap on about the USA’s success in this years World Cup, even though they only won one game.

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