While they has gone somewhat unmentioned, the play by play announcers for this year's World Cup in South Africa have brought massive credibility to U.S.A. soccer.
Anchored by Martin Tyler, along with Ian Darke, Adrian Healy and Scottish-born Derek Rae, the games have taken on the feel and flow of the English Premier League, the F.A.Cup, and the UEFA Champions League.
Tyler, was voted as the FA Premier League Commentator of The Decade and was used by Fox to cover the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final. This is the first time the Champions League final was broadcast on a major non-cable American television network. He was chosen to anchor the World Cup team and got the nod for the USA versus England match to start the tournament.
Healey called matches for ESPN at the 2006 World Cup and 2007 Women's World Cup, and has announced UEFA Champions League, Serie A, La Liga and FA Cup broadcasts for ESPN. He hosts Premier League studio shows for ESPN this season.
Rae, who should sound the most familiar to US viewers, has worked for ESPN since 1994 announcing the Champions League and international games...and served as studio host this past spring.
Darke, who works in England broadcasting Premier League matches on Sky Sports, as does Tyler, was behind the mic when the U.S. came from behind, 2-0 to draw with Slovenia...and, produced a thrilling call to match the USA's last minute victory over Algeria...vaulting the Americans from elimination to the knockout round as Group C winner.
As a former baseball play-by-play announcer, I understand the subtleties that go into making a broadcaster great, and this crew is truly exceptional. Each knows the game completely, and is thoroughly well informed about each and every player. Listening to them is a great opportunity for all americans not to miss out on.
Most Americans probably don't realize that these broadcasters are heard by more people around the world on a yearly basis than any of our major leagues (Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey). It is not unusual for many of the English Premier League matches, involving clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Arsenal to draw audiences much greater than the Super Bowl ever will.
Thus, when they talk about Landon Donovan or Tim Howard as though they know them personally, they make you feel that American soccer has finally arrived on the scene of world football, and that we as fans of the beautiful game should be proud of this.
So, for the U.S. audience, having this opportunity to hear these classic voices over the 64 games on the road to the Cup Final is not only a great treat, but hopefully helps the game grow in popularity as it continues on its' spiraling rise in both interest and acceptance on the national scene. For those who love the game, it doesn't get much better than this.