: Francine Daveta/NBC Sports

NBC Sports finalizes TV talent for Premier League coverage

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NBC Sports Group announced its on-air talent for coverage of the Barclays Premier League will feature Arlo White as lead play-by-play voice, Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux as match analysts and Gary Lineker as special contributor. The commentating team will be supported domestically by Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, who will join host Rebecca Lowe as studio analysts in Stamford, Conn.

The England-based commentating team will call the matches live, on-site. White (pictured with Lowe), who spent the last two seasons as the play-by-play voice for NBC’s coverage of MLS and the 2012 London Olympics, will relocate back to the United Kingdom to partner with former England internationals Dixon and Le Saux, who will split time in the booth working as color commentators. Lineker, one of the most respected presenters in the U.K, will support the telecasts as a special contributor and will also host on-site coverage throughout the season.

White burst onto the U.S. Soccer scene as the television and radio voice of the Seattle Sounders at the start of the 2010 season. His smooth play-call and intricate insight won immediate plaudits from the soccer-impassioned Cascadia region, leading to NBC hiring his services to cover its MLS and Olympic coverage. Before coming to the States, White spent nine years with BBC Radio Sport in England where he was part of the BBC Radio 5-Live announcing team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. White also served as a host on BBC Radio 5 Live, Saturday 5 Live Sport, and the Monday Night Club and has covered a variety of BBC events including the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and various Champions League football matches.

MORE: NBC Sports’ programming plans for Premier League

Dixon and Le Saux are no strangers to the soccer savvy U.S. public. Dixon earned 22 caps with the English national team from 1990-99 and played for five English clubs including, most famously, Arsenal, where he played from 1988-2002. Dixon began as a color commentator for BBC before switching to rivals ITV, where he will continue to contribute in addition to his duties with NBC. Le Saux played 36 times for the Three Lions from 1994-2000 and played for Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers and Southampton over his 17 year career. Since retiring from professional football Le Saux has worked for BBC as a color commentator and an analyst on Match of the Day 2.

Lineker will contribute to NBC’s Premier League coverage while continuing to host BBC’s flagship show, Match of the Day. As a player Lineker earned 80 caps for England and famously won the 1986 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot as top scorer with six goals. His 17 year career began at Leicester City before moving on to Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham and Japan’s Nagoya Grampus Eight. After retirement Lineker entered the sports broadcasting world working for the BBC, Al Jazeera Sports and Eredivisie Live.

NBC’s commentating team will be supported by the studio team, which will provide coverage from NBC Sports Group’s new state-of-the-art International Broadcast Center in Stamford. Lowe, who was recently named lead host for NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Premier League, will team up with former Jamaican international Earle and former English footballer Mustoe.  Since retiring from playing, Earle has worked as a color commentator for NBC’s MLS coverage and as an analyst for BBC, ITV, Sky, the Portland Timbers and ESPN while Mustoe has enjoyed a six year stint providing color commentary and analyst work for ESPN.

The full press release is below

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S PREMIER LEAGUE ANNOUNCERS

ARLO WHITE NAMED LEAD PLAY-BY-PLAY VOICE WORKING WITH LEE DIXON AND GRAEME LE SAUX; WILL CALL GAMES FROM THE U.K.

LEGENDARY GARY LINEKER TO SERVE AS SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR TO PREMIER LEAGUE TELECASTS

FORMER JAMAICAN NATIONAL TEAM PLAYER ROBBIE EARLE AND FORMER ENGLISH FOOTBALLER ROBBIE MUSTOE TO SERVE AS STUDIO ANALYSTS WITH HOST REBECCA LOWE

NEW YORK – April 16, 2013 – NBC Sports Group has announced on-air talent for its coverage of Barclays Premier League soccer, starting in August.

  • Arlo White will serve as the lead play-by-play voice for NBC Sports Group’s Barclays Premier League coverage beginning in August, calling games on-site from the U.K.;
  • Former Premier League stars Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux will join White, on-site in the U.K. as analysts on NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage;
  • Legendary U.K. footballer and presenter Gary Lineker will serve as a special contributor to NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage, and occasionally host on-site studio coverage in the U.K.;
  • Former Jamaican National Team player Robbie Earle and former English footballer Robbie Mustoe will serve as studio analysts, alongside studio host Rebecca Lowe from NBC Sports Group’s Premier League studio in Stamford, Conn.

ARLO WHITE – PLAY-BY-PLAY: White, who spent the last two seasons as the play-by-play voice for NBC Sports Group’s MLS coverage, and was NBC’s voice of soccer for the 2012 London Olympics, will relocate back to the U.K. to call Premier League matches on-site for NBC.

Prior to joining NBC, White was the play-by-play voice of the Seattle Sounders FC of MLS on television and radio. He previously spent nine years with BBC Radio Sport in England where he was part of the BBC Radio 5-Live announcing team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. White also served as a host on BBC Radio 5 Live and hosted the station’s flagship Premier League Football show, Saturday 5 Live Sport, as well as the Monday Night Club alongside BBC football commentator John Motson. From 2002 to 2005, White was part of the 5 Live Breakfast program on the BBC, where he covered, among other events, the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and various Champions League football matches.

LEE DIXON – GAME ANALYST: Dixon will work alongside White on Premier League matches on NBC. A right back, Dixon was an English international earning 22 caps. He started his career with Burnley in 1982, playing for Chester City, Bury and Stoke City before joining Arsenal in January, 1988. He played for Arsenal for the rest of his career, retiring in 2002. He was part of four League Championships, three FA Cup wins, a European Cup-Winners’ Cup and a league cup. Dixon, who has worked as a color commentator for BBC, will continue his work for ITV.

GRAEME LE SAUX – GAME ANALYST: Le Saux will split time in the booth with Dixon working with White on NBC Sports Network’s Premier League matches. A left back and midfielder, Le Saux played 36 times for England, including the 1998 World Cup. He started his career with Chelsea in 1987, and also played with Blackburn Rovers and Southampton before retiring in 2005. He won the FA Cup in 2000 and also won a League Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup. Le Saux has worked for BBC as an analyst on Match of the Day 2, and as a color commentator.

GARY LINEKER – SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR/ON-SITE HOST: – Lineker will serve as a special contributor for NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage. He will also host some on-site coverage throughout the season. Lineker a forward, played 80 times for England, scoring 48 times, second most all-time for the Three Lions. He won the 1986 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot as top scorer with six goals and added four more in 1990. Lineker started his career with Leicester City in 1978 and played there until 1985, when he moved to Everton FC. He moved abroad with FC Barcelona a year later and after success in Spain, he moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 1989. He finished his career in Japan with Nagoya Grampus Eight in 1994. Lineker, one of the most respected presenters in the U.K, will continue to host Match of the Day, BBC’s flagship show.

REBECCA LOWE – STUDIO HOST: As previously announced, Lowe will relocate to the U.S. this summer, and will host Premier League coverage from NBC Sports Group’s new state-of-the-art International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn. Lowe joined ESPN UK in 2009 to co-host its Premier League matches as well as its FA Cup coverage, and co-anchor Between the Lines, a football debate and opinion program. Lowe co-hosted ESPN’s coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011, in Germany, and its Euro 2012 coverage from Bristol, Conn. In May, 2012, Lowe became the first woman in UK history to host the FA Cup Final – a six-hour live broadcast from Wembley Stadium. Lowe will conclude her Premier League and FA Cup duties with ESPN UK in May.

ROBBIE EARLE – STUDIO ANALYST: Earle will work alongside Lowe and Robbie Mustoe as an analyst in NBC Sports Group’s Premier League studio in Stamford, Conn. A midfielder, Earle played 33 times for Jamaica, scoring eight times, including Jamaica’s first ever goal in a World Cup. English-born, Earle qualified to play for Jamaica thanks to his heritage. Earle started his career with Port Vale in 1981, before moving to Wimbledon in 1991. He played 10 seasons with Wimbledon before he retired. Earle has worked as a color commentator for NBC Sports Group’s MLS coverage and as an analyst for BBC, ITV, Sky, the Portland Timbers and ESPN.

ROBBIE MUSTOE – STUDIO ANALYST: Mustoe will join Earle and Lowe in the Premier League studio in Stamford, Conn. Mustoe, a midfielder, started his career with Oxford United in 1987. He moved to Middlesbrough in 1990 and played there for 12 seasons, before ending his career with Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday. He played in two FA Cup finals and one league cup final. Mustoe has worked with ESPN since 2008, working as color commentator on matches and as a studio analyst on ESPN Soccer Press Pass.

For more information about NBC Sports Group shows and properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios and headshots, please visit NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com (http://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com)

Toronto loses CONCACAF Champions League in PKs

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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Chivas Guadalajara scored on all of its penalty kicks to clinch a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League Final, breaking the hearts of Toronto FC in Mexico on Wednesday and earning a berth in the 2018 Club World Cup.

Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore scored in regulation as Toronto FC picked up a 2-1 win to reverse their first leg loss and push it to kicks.

Orbelin Pineda scored Chivas’ goal.

Hometown kid Jonathan Osorio hit the cross bar on Toronto’s second PK and Michael Bradley sent the fifth offering into outer space.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Toronto flew out of the gates, and Rodolfo Cota came flying off his line to deny Altidore a 10th minute chance.

Alex Bono collected a header off a Chivas corner kick earned by a counterattack.

Pineda then made Toronto’s task even harder with a 19th minute goal, cooking Auro’s mark to reach a through ball and dancing around Bono for 1-0.

But Altidore was somehow unmarked for Nic Hasler’s pass despite five Chivas defenders and Cota inside the six-yard box, and TFC leveled the second leg at 1.

And TFC got the next goal through Giovinco, slipped through by Marky Delgado and taking advantage of a yard of space and a second to shoot with his fourth goal of the CCL knockout rounds.

The Reds kept coming in the second half, with Delgado winning a big 50-50 ball deep in Chivas territory and Victor Vasquez ripping a shot that Cota dove to smother.

Chivas found its footing in 58th minute, sending a shot over the bar before Jesus Godinez hit the post in the 61st (though his dive seemingly had the near post covered). Bono the next knocked a free kick over the bar from a similar position as the ball that beat him in the first leg.

Javier Lopez curled a vicious attempt just over the goal in the 72nd. He’d have the next best chances moments after Altidore subbed off with an apparent hamstring injury, but dribbled onto Bono’s lap and fired off the keeper.

Giovinco worked a 1-2 with Osorio and cruised a shot just wide of the far post in the 87th minute. Delgado then mailed a sitter over the bar in the first minute of stoppage time.

Premier League Power Rankings: In tiers

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Liverpool has knocked Manchester City from the Champions League, but sits 19 points behind the leaders and City has a match-in-hand.

Manchester United beat City just weeks ago, but was bounced from the UCL even earlier. The Red Devils also took four of six points from Liverpool.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Spurs are fourth in the table but also took four of six from Liverpool and could be level on points with the Reds by winning its match-in-hand.

So the question remains, who’s the best team in the Premier League right now? That’s why we’re revisiting our Premier League Power Rankings for the first time in a while, since City was the unquestioned No. 1 for months.

Will it change anything? Spoiler alert: Probably not.

Spots 20-14: Not safe yet

20. West Bromwich Albion: The Baggies are going down, but Darren Moore has at least instilled some life into a moribund bunch which was saddled with the dour and unsuccessful tactics of Tony Pulis before moving onto the peppy and hard-to-understand tactics of Alan Pardew.

19. Stoke City — The Paul Lambert jump has faded, and the Potters’ inferior goal differential and one more match played than both Southampton and Swansea City feel like a death knell.

18. Southampton — Yes, the Bottom Three is the same as the table, but Saints are a New South Coast Derby win away from sitting three points back of pulling Palace and perhaps Huddersfield Town and West Ham United back into the picture.

17. Huddersfield Town — If David Wagner cannot lead the Terriers past Everton this weekend, his side finishes at Man City, at Chelsea, and home to Arsenal. That’s a recipe for watching a six-point advantage on the drop zone melt away.

16. Swansea City — Still four points clear of the drop zone, Swans have the cup half-full of facing Saints and Stoke City. The two sides aren’t very good, but also the only teams to worry about when it comes to their Premier League lives.

15. Crystal Palace — Given their turnaround from the beginning of the season, it feels dirty to have them so low. But of the three clubs sitting six points clear of 18th, the Eagles are the one to have three matches left and not four.

14. West Ham United — A brutal schedule featuring two of David Moyes‘ old sides — Everton and Manchester United — means the Irons cannot breathe safely yet (especially with Swans, Saints, and Stoke set to take points off each other).


Spots 13-11: Foot off the gas (and is there any gas in the tank?)

13. Watford — Javi Gracia may have Watford safe, and that was his charge, but the Hornets look like the same team they did under previous bosses. The Hornets have two points from their last six, and would be much further down the table if they weren’t essentially safe.

12. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe is probably wondering how that Arsenal chair would feel right about now, as the Cherries have probably reached a glass ceiling. Now a derby against Saints can define the run-in to the season.

11. Brighton and Hove Albion — Perhaps satiated by a five-match unbeaten run that featured a win over Arsenal and beat downs of Swansea and West Ham, Chris Hughton‘s Gulls have two points in five matches including a derby loss to Palace.

10. Everton — Sam Allardyce‘s men nicked a win off of Newcastle last weekend, and it was about as satisfying as moribund draws against Liverpool’s B Team and Swansea City. There’s a lot of unrest at Goodison Park, and Sam Allardyce has to go. Because of the relative positive vibes at lower table sides Leicester and Newcastle, Everton sinks beneath them.

9. Leicester City — A fun team which has had infuriating lapses at the back. Jamie Vardy‘s as reliable as ever, and there’s a real question what they’ll do without Riyad Mahrez (allegedly) in the future. Wilfred Ndidi, Demarai Gray, and Fousseni Diabate look a big part of said future, but it’s a bit alarming that the Foxes haven’t been able to take advantage of the relatively open door to seventh since Claude Puel righted Craig Shakespeare‘s sinking ship.

8. Newcastle United — The Magpies saw their win streak snapped by Everton, but Rafa Benitez is playing with house money after coaxed a midtable season out of a Championship squad. A healthy Islam Slimani has moved Dwight Gayle to his rightful role as a spark plug off the bench, but don’t sleep on the wonders Benitez has worked in turning Mo Diame, DeAndre Yedlin, and Paul Dummett into serviceable Premier League players. The future is bright if Mike Ashley sells the team or at least opens his purse strings to make one of the longest road trips in the PL even harder for visitors to St. James’ Park.


Spot 7: One of the best stories in Premier League history

7. Burnley — A loss to Chelsea and draw with Stoke has sunk Sean Dyche‘s excitement, we’re sure, but Southampton’s departure from the FA Cup means seventh place means Europa League. It’s Burnley in Europe: Yes, for real!


Spots 6-4: The bargaining stage of grief

6. Chelsea — The Blues have won two-straight in the league and reached an FA Cup Final against old pal Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, but there’s as much uncertainty at Stamford Bridge as there is at the Emirates. The difference? We know Roman Abramovich will spend more to try to fix it.

5. Arsenal — The danger of slipping behind Burnley and into seventh on the table has passed, but the Arsene Wenger goodbye tour is focused firmly on the Gunners’ fate versus Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Europa League and the quite decent form of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as well as a resurgent and healthy Aaron Ramsey. Defenders need improving in a big way and there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding Wenger’s replacement. Don’t know what you’ve got til its gone?

4. Spurs — No trophy again this season, and there’s a very good chance Tottenham will miss out on third place by virtue of goal difference when all is said and done; When all’s said and done, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men will have drawn 1-1 or 0-0 against West Brom, Swansea, Watford, West Ham, Saints, and Brighton. That’ll render a decent record against top foes less impressive.


Spots 3-1: Power trio

3. Manchester United — The Red Devils are better than almost everyone thinks despite precious few standout seasons from its players (David De Gea, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard are among the pardoned). When it comes to talking progress, however, second place won’t cut it: Mourinho needs that FA Cup win over Chelsea, a trophy United hasn’t won since (checks his notes) oh, two seasons ago.

2. Liverpool — The Reds looked incredible in dicing up Roma for 80 minutes, but allowed Roma a sliver of hope. Moreover, the last four goals Liverpool has allowed have come in the 79th, 88th, 81st, and 85th minutes. Why won’t we put them ahead of City? Well, let me clarify: it’s not PST, it’s me. I’ll own this: As brilliant as Liverpool was against City, they were out-chanced 31-14 over two legs. Give me that scenario 100 times, and I’m betting on the 31 about 85-90 times. The Reds are almost there, and Naby Keita over Jordan Henderson would be a huge upgrade (especially if this success convinces Emre Can to stick around). Next year, yeah. This year, just no.

  1. Manchester City — The records continue to fall, and it’s funny to consider that should City had lost the first Manchester Derby and been knocked out of the UCL a round earlier — yes, even by Liverpool in the same manner — no one would be arguing for anyone other than City at No. 1.

WATCH: Giovinco levels CONCACAF Champions League Final

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A trademark Sebastian Giovinco goal snapped a 1-1 first half tie and put Toronto FC in the driver’s seat for Major League Soccer’s first title in the CONCACAF Champions League era.

Jozy Altidore scored the first goal after Orbelin Pineda put Chivas Guadalajara ahead early in Mexico, and the tie is level at 3-3 after 135 minutes.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Toronto needs to score once more and stay ahead by one, or win in penalty kicks.

The winner goes to the Club World Cup in December.

Look at this quick work from Giovinco after Marky Delgado slipped him into his office.

Spartak and Zenit fined in latest Russia fan racism cases

AP Photo/Julia Chestnova
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MOSCOW (AP) Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg have both been fined for racist chants by their fans, the latest such incident in World Cup host nation Russia.

Spartak’s fans were accused of aiming monkey chants at FC Tosno player Nuno Rocha, who is black, while some Zenit supporters allegedly chanted a Nazi slogan during a league game.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

The clubs must each pay a 100,000-ruble ($1,600) fine, and Spartak has been hit with a partial stadium closure for its next cup game, state news agency RIA Novosti quotes Russian Football Union disciplinary committee head Artur Grigoryants as saying.

The verdict comes after FIFA charged Russia with racist abuse of France players during last month’s friendly.

Zenit has also faced two racism charges from UEFA this season.