Friday, July 15, 2011

Ian Darke: The Best Thing to Happen to American Soccer Coverage

You may not know who British play-by-play announcer Ian Darke is, but he has elevated American soccer coverage.

Since ESPN hired him to call the 2010 Fifa Men's World Cup,  he has brought enthusiasm to the game of soccer that had been missing in the United States.  

He continues to do this with his coverage of the 2011 Fifa Women's World Cup.

Darke's not pretending to be interested in soccer like some other play-by-men, he's genuinely excited about great soccer plays and it shows.

Nothing exhibits this more than Darke's call of Holland's Giovanni Van Bronchorst goal against Uruguay as "An Absolute Firecracker" in last year's World Cup (the video at the top of this post).

He's soccer's equivalent of  Gus Johnson, the energetic football and basketball play-by-play who's a fan favorite.

They both strike the perfect balance between embracing a fan's excitement, but not going over the top.

American soccer has been fortunate to have two of its greatest moments enhanced by Darke's dramatic calls.

Landon Donovan's goal to beat Algeria and send the U.S. to the second round of the 2010 Men's World Cup and Abby Wambach's miracle 122 minute goal to tie Brazil in the quarterfinals of this year's Women's World Cup were both called by him.

They're great plays on their own, but Darke really captures the elation of these moments.

With Darke signed to ESPN through the 2014 Fifa World Cup, I look forward to more exciting soccer coverage from him.

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