Whether soccer is ever embraced in the U.S. as a truly major spectator sport remains to be seen. If it is, one man will be due much of the credit. Longtime English announcer Ian Darke burst onto the American TV scene last June with his indelible call of one of the biggest moments of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (go to YouTube and type in "Donovan goal") and has become the voice of soccer for U.S. audiences after accepting a reported three-year offer from ESPN following the tournament. Darke terms the move, "a new lease on life." After calling games for Sky Sports in England for some 20 years, Darke says, he wanted a new challenge. Part of that challenge? Helping to get the U.S. up to speed with the rest of the world in the global game. "It's important we don't talk down to the audience," Darke says. "We want to call [the game] in an authentic way." Authentic, of course, meaning non-American.
But that doesn't mean soccer can't flourish in the States, especially with more games and moments called by Darke, such as Donovan's game-winner over Algeria. "[That goal]," he says, "was just a sort of ... orgasmic moment."
CHRIS HUTTY/ESPN (DARKE)
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (DONOVAN)