: 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)

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia