For the 2010 World Cup, ESPN brought in two of the most recognizable voices in the English speaking soccer world to be their lead play by play announcers – Martin Tyler and Ian Darke.  The revered Tyler was given the #1 job calling the World Cup Final… but it was Darke who became the voice of ESPN's soccer coverage.  After his beloved "Go Go USA" call Darke became a broadcasting icon.  He then signed a long-term contract with ESPN calling all of their major soccer events – USMNT games, MLS Cup, Women's World Cup and weekly EPL matches.

Darke's rise presented a conundrum for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Tyler had signed on for two World Cups and in the interim Darke become the main voice for ESPN's soccer coverage.  Which one would be named the lead commentator for this year's tournament?

The answer came today as ESPN announced it is moving forward with Ian Darke as their lead announcer for the 2014 World Cup.  ESPN and Martin Tyler agreed to part ways so that Tyler could pursue other broadcasting opportunities for the tournament.  Here's quotes from the principles involved:

Darke: “I am thrilled to be covering another World Cup for ESPN, particularly in such a fanatical hotbed of the sport as Brazil. The venues mean the match windows will be ideal for the ever increasing and passionate community of soccer fans in the USA, who will see every minute of every game.”  

Tyler: “Following World Cup 2010, Ian Darke made a long term commitment to ESPN. That commitment deserves to be rewarded by Ian being the lead commentator at World Cup 2014 for ESPN. With that in mind, it was only right and proper for me to offer to stand down from ESPN's broadcast of the tournament next year. I'm sure that Ian and ESPN will enjoy a very successful tournament."

Tyler and Darke are both #1 announcers and alas, there's only one #1 position at any given network.  It's a completely understandable decision from all parties involved.  Darke deserves the lead spot being the voice of soccer in America over the last four years and Tyler deserves the chance to call the World Cup Final elsewhere.

As a fan, it's unfortunate that Tyler won't be a part of ESPN's World Cup coverage this year as you won't find any more respected voices that broadcast any sport around the world.  His voice is synonymous with the game if you've ever watched the EPL, Champions League, or played a few games of FIFA on XBox.  

However, ESPN definitely made the right decision here by sticking with Ian Darke and naming him as their lead announcer.  It was the only choice to make, quite frankly.  His more energetic, colorful style is better suited for an American audience than the more understated Tyler.  And, his commitment to ESPN's soccer coverage and popularity amongst fans here in the states should be rewarded.  Darke has become one of the best in the industry regardless of sport since the 2010 World Cup and it would have been a shame were he to be unable to call the World Cup Final for 2014, especially considering it will be ESPN's final bow at the tournament for the time being.  


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