In a blow to the growth of US-born commentators in this country, ESPN revealed today the names of the four lead announcers for its TV coverage of the 2010 World Cup. All four of them are British born.

The lead commentators are Martin Tyler (England), Derek Rae (Scotland), Ian Darke (England) and Adrian Healey (England). While Rae and Healey have commentated on games in the United States for years, both retain a very strong British accent as do Tyler and Harke who are veterans of the game in their homeland.

In all, ESPN will employ four teams to cover all 64 tournament games live from South Africa between June 11 and July 11, 2010.

ESPN also announced today that JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth will be handling the radio commentary of the World Cup for ESPN Radio, which means that the number one commentator for US games during the last few years – JP Dellacamera – will not be televising the games for television.

Even though Tyler and Darke are two of the best commentators in the world, and Rae and Healey are institutions in the United States, I’m extremely dismayed that ESPN has decided not to name an American among the four lead commentators. JP Dellacamera has put in a lot of hard work over the years to provide professional coverage of games involving the United States team, and I cannot believe he has been overlooked.

Soccer fans are very subjective when it comes to soccer commentators. People will either love them or hate them depending on a whole host of reasons. But even if ESPN didn’t want to put Dellacamera as a lead commentator to commentate on US games, why not choose someone else such as American Phil Schoen who has a considerable amount of experience?

I think it’s ridiculous that the lead TV commentator for games involving the United States will not be American. Yes, I’m sure ESPN will balance that by having a co-commentator who is American, but it’s not enough. In this particular instance, ESPN is trying too hard to deliver a world-class production. It needs to balance this with a US commentator that Americans can relate to.

This is a poor decision by ESPN.