Even though this year’s MLS season is far from over, with last month’s announcement that Apple TV+ would secure exclusive worldwide streaming rights for all matches and associated shoulder programming for the next 10 years beginning in 2023, it’s natural to look ahead to the future.
This new media rights deal is a game-changing one when it comes to how fans watch sporting events, as it"s the first time that a North American professional sports organization has sold a package of games to a streaming platform.
With the new deal and this new era in Major League Soccer roughly seven months away, Apple TV+ faces an interesting number of choices that have to be made between now and the dead of next winter, and the time has come for the help wanted sign to be dusted off.
Help Wanted: Apple TV+ Seeking Qualified MLS Play-by-Play Commentators For New Package
Over the next several months, if they haven"t done so already, people closest to the situation will need to get on the telephone to place calls to hire some commentators to call the matches next season and in the years to come.
This is the first part of a two-part series, as next week"s installment delves into those who might fill in the analyst role with the new Apple TV+ MLS package.
To begin the series, part one examines potential candidates who could serve as a play-by-play commentators on one of the broadcast teams.
John Strong Has a Strong Case
For the past decade-plus, John Strong has been a stalwart on MLS broadcasts, whether it"s been local radio coverage of Portland Timbers matches during the team"s freshman season in 2011, his three-year stint as the play-by-play commentator for MLS on the late NBC Sports Network, or his current role as the voice of MLS on FOX.
Strong has always been most excellent in his commentary and provides gravitas to matches when the situation deems it adequate.
What stands out the most about John Strong is that he can make a regular season game in the middle of May sound and seem as though it"s a cup final, and he was on the call for the best goal in MLS history.
Strong: “OH, COME ON! COME ON!"
On March 31, 2018, John Strong served as the play-by-play man for the first match in the El Trafico rivalry between the Los Angeles Galaxy and LAFC, a game noteworthy for the first MLS appearance by the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The striker entered the match in the second half as a substitute, and during the 77th minute of play, he converted on a double-volley by Ola Kamara from 45 yards out.
John Strong: Kamara throwing his body in, it"s going to fall to IBRAHIMOVIC! OH. COME ON! COME ON!
For these reasons mentioned above, Apple TV+ should seriously consider hiring John Strong, who will call his second FIFA Men"s World Cup for FOX Sports this November and December, as a play-by-play man for its new MLS package.
JP Dellacamera Should Be A Lock For New Package
What would a soccer telecast on an American network be without the voice of JP Dellacamera, the current English television play-by-play commentator of the Philadelphia Union and FOX"s No. 2 MLS play-by-play announcer?
Dellacamera has logged an impressive career as a broadcaster, calling every FIFA Men"s World Cup on US television or radio since 1986, along with every FIFA Women"s World Cup on American television since 1995, including the USWNT‘s victories in the 1999, 2015, and 2019 Women"s World Cup Finals.
Aside from league play in both MLS and the NWSL, JP Dellacamera has been one of the voices for US Soccer competitions since 1999, having spent the last seven years calling USWNT matches for FOX and FS1.
Dellacamera: Hall of Fame Plaudits Twice Over
In October of 2018, JP Dellacamera was enshrined in the United States Soccer Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Colin Jose Media Award, and a few months later, it was announced that he would be inducted to the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame for its 2019 class.
A Hall of Fame pedigree of JP Dellacamera"s calibre is next to impossible for any platform to ignore for a broadcast network or streaming service.
Unless Dellacamera chooses to retire from broadcasting at the end of this year, he should be a lock for the new Apple TV+ MLS package.
He"s just too good to be excluded.
Adrian Healey Has National Experience
A potential hiring of Adrian Healey would not be too big of a leap of faith, as he"s already called games on a national level in the past.
Healey served as the lead play-by-play announcer for ESPN"s coverage of MLS matches between 2011 and 2018, calling MLS Cup in English for five consecutive seasons, including David Beckham"s last MLS match in MLS Cup 2012.
In recent years, Healey has been ESPN"s No. 2 commentator amid Jon Champion receiving top billing on MLS coverage ahead of the 2019 season.
Healey Expands ESPN Duties to Include La Liga
Much like John Strong and JP Dellacamera, Adrian Healey has also called some international fixtures, adding top-flight Spanish football to his broadcasting credits.
Last year, ahead of the 2021-22 La Liga season, ESPN"s first as the exclusive United States rightsholder, Healey was announced as one of the Disney-owned network"s English-language commentators, his second stint in that capacity.
In the past, he"s covered soccer at the Summer Olympics, UEFA Champions League matches, and the FIFA Men"s and Women"s World Cups, just to name a few tentpole events.
With numerous high-profile competitions to his credit in addition to his past and present MLS duties, Adrian Healey would be a good fit for the Apple TV+ package.
Who Would You Like To See Get The Nod?
In closing, a question for our audience:
Which play-by-play announcer or announcers would you like to see get hired for the new MLS/ Apple TV+ package?
Leave your answers in the comments.
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