ESPN will have a new, yet familiar, voice leading its coverage of the World Cup.
Ian Darke has replaced Martin Tyler as the network's lead announcer for the 2014 competition in Brazil, ESPN announced on Wednesday. ESPN and Tyler mutually agreed to part ways, according to a press release, paving the way for Darke to take the top seat. Tyler, the legendary, longtime Sky Sports announcer has called every World Cup since 1978 (and called the 2010 final for ESPN). He is free to continue that streak with other outlets.
“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," Tyler said in a statement. "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.”
U.S. fans are already quite familiar with Darke, who has called two of the most iconic moments in U.S. Soccer history, in addition to his Premier League and MLS work with ESPN. He was behind the microphone for Landon Donovan's life-saving, group-winning goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup:
And he also called Abby Wambach's last-gasp miracle goal against Brazil in stoppage time of extra time of the 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinals:
According to ESPN, Darke will call all U.S. matches in Brazil this summer, and he'll also be on the call for the opening game of the tournament, when Brazil meets Croatia on June 12, and the final at Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.