Behind the scenes as Tim Howard prepares for NBCSN commentary debut – View from the Booth, with Arlo White

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When watching soccer on TV, have you ever sat there and wondered what the man behind the microphone really thinks?

Maybe this will go someway to helping with that.

In the latest edition of “View from the Booth” we chat with NBC Sports’ lead soccer announcer Arlo White about how USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard has been preparing for his NBC Sports commentary debut live on NBCSN for Chelsea vs. Manchester City on Sunday. Everton star Howard will become the first active PL player to call a NBC Sports game, when the Blues host the Citizens at 12pm ET at Stamford Bridge.

(VIEW FROM THE BOOTH ARCHIVE)

You can hear Arlo calling live games this weekend on NBC Sports Network, and watch every single game available live online via NBC Sports Live Extra,

So, let’s get to it.

How are you feeling about being alongside Tim Howard for the call on Sunday?

I am absolutely delighted that Tim’s on board for this weekends game, it’s going to be fascinating to hear the insight of a current player. When you think about it, he’s going to be alongside me, talking into a microphone less than 24 hours after he’s played a Premier League game himself for Everton against Aston Villa.

How much of an asset will it be to have an active Premier League player on board? What preparation work has Tim been doing?

Here’s a guy who has played against both team that we’re going to be commentating on this Sunday. Everton had a famous win, 1-0 over Chelsea which was actually Chelsea’s only defeat this season. And they had a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City, so when it comes to playing these sides and facing the strikers, the ball players, the free kick takers and the corner takers on both sides, Tim is going to have insight like no other. I sat down with him for two or three hours during the week, as we talked with our bosses about exactly what was expected of Tim. He came armed with a ton of questions, bags of enthusiasm and a lot of soccer savvy. He can’t wait. He’s of course now focused on the Villa vs. Everton game though, as he should be.

source: Getty Images
Howard is prepping for how he’s going to hold the mic…. Good posture, Tim.

As a great professional, I’d imagine Tim was extremely thorough with the prep work. So, how prepared are you guys for Sunday?

Well, the sort of questions Tim had were far reaching. I mean this is his first time doing this. It was everything from player pronunciation, if he knows a player through a different pronunciation than I’ve got should he adhere to me or should we have a chat about that before the game. Which I said yes, we should. We will make sure we get it right, but it was great that he was concerned. Everything from ‘what should I wear,’ to ‘headphones am I wearing’ and ‘which microphone am I using.; He is very, very thorough. He’s preparing for this with the meticulousness of a professional, in the same way that he prepares for a stint between the sticks in the Premier League.

Run us through the game on Sunday, how will things go from when you arrive at Stamford Bridge?

In terms of preparation, we will get to the stadium a little bit earlier than usual. Probably three and a half hours rather than the usual three. We’re going to go through a couple of rehearsals, we’re going to talk to each other and I’m going to show Tim exactly what buttons to press to speak with the studio back in Stamord, Connecticut or also the truck we have outside Stamford Bridge. It’s all about getting Tim comfortable in his surroundings and inevitably, as is the case with all of us as football fans, when the game starts I’m sure we will snap into a nice rhythm because we get on very well away from work anyway.

It must be a huge advantages to have Tim on board, seeing as he plays against these guys week in, week out?

As I said, to have someone who played against these guys and to have insight into, for example, the mindset of Joe Hart because the two of them have had a chat recently… I won’t tell you exactly what was said, we’ll have to wait for the broadcast. But that’s what we are looking for. I’ll have the facts and figures and players stats, story lines and histories between the clubs all written down as per usual. That’s what the week is for to prepare for, and it’s down to me to get the very best out of Tim. I think he’s going to be really up for it, and I’m looking forward to working with him.

What kind of co-commentator will Tim be?

source: Getty Images
Arlo explained exactly how Howard has been preparing for Chelsea vs. Man City, live Sunday, at 12pm ET on NBCSN.

I honestly don’t know. Until we get out there and actually do it for real. I think inevitably, he is a current professional in the Premier League. So, it’s going to be a challenge for him to be able to criticize other professionals. He will have to find a way of not upsetting anyone I suppose, but still doing his job on behalf of the viewers of the United States. He’s aware of that, and I think he’s got to think about that, exactly how he does it. He’s got to have his view, but he’s not an egotist Tim. he loves the game. He’s not keen to say ‘I would have done this,’ because he doesn’t want to come across as someone being wholly arrogant. He knows how difficult it is to be a goalkeeper and a player at this level. Tim brings a great deal of intelligence, enthusiasm and considered thought to the situation. And obviously working with Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux is phenomenal. Every game is like an education. They have so much knowledge, are terrific broadcasters and very decent chaps as well. They are our guys and I know the viewers rate them very highly as well. Tim will bring a different edge to this weekend.”

Obviously Tim is someone respected across the game, how long have you two known each other?

I’ve known Tim for a couple of years. Every interaction I’ve had with him has been a very positive one. He has been in the Premier League for eleven years, he has played for Sir Alex Ferguson and for David Moyes… two guys who just happen to be in the news quite a lot at the moment. He’s played against all the players you could possibly imagine in the Premier League that have been lighting it up. He’s played in World Cups, he’s qualified with the United States. Tim’s been at the forefront of the game internationally and domestically for a long time.

What will be the some of the challenges you face on Sunday’s broadcast?

One of the challenges will be, he’s probably got so much to say and so much information he wants to impart, that we have to temper it and make sure we don’t talk too much. It’s about getting the best stuff out of him. That’s going to be the challenge.

La Liga: Sevilla win late to move even with Atletico Madrid in 3rd

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MADRID (AP) Wissam Ben Yedder scored three minutes after entering the game to give Sevilla a late 2-1 win over 10-man Celta Vigo in the Spanish league on Thursday.

The victory moved Sevilla even on points with third-place Atletico Madrid with four matches left. Third place guarantees an automatic spot in the Champions League next season, while the fourth-placed team has to go through a playoff.

Ben Yedder netted the winner from close range after a low cross by Samir Nasri in the 79th minute, beating a defender to the ball and hitting the top of the net with a right-footed shot.

“It was a complex game but the team was able to overcome the difficulties,” Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said.

Joaquin Correa put the host ahead after halftime, and Iago Aspas equalized by converting a penalty kick just minutes later. Aspas did not celebrate the goal out of respect to fans of his former club.

Sevilla dominated from the start and was pressuring vigorously in search of the winner, especially after Celta went a man down when midfielder Pablo Hernandez was sent off with a second yellow card in the 56th with the game 1-1.

Sergio Escudero and Nasri each struck the crossbar a few minutes apart late in the second half, and Vicente Iborra also had hit the woodwork earlier in the game played under steady rain in Seville.

It was the third win in four matches for Sevilla after a streak of five games without a win.

Sevilla and Atletico are level on points, but the Madrid club is ahead on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Top PL Storylines: Bye-bye, St. Totteringham’s Day? So long, Sunderland?

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Ahead of Week 34 of the 2016-17 Premier League season, we’re most looking forward to keeping an eye on the following storylines…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Cancel St. Totteringham’s Day?

8,018 days (otherwise known as 22.9 years) have passed since Tottenham Hotspur last finished above Arsenal in the Premier League. First of all, that’s a lot of days. Secondly, the time to reset that clock is nearly upon us, as Tottenham take a 14-point lead into Sunday’s North London derby (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) — perhaps the final one to be played at White Hart Lane. With Arsenal having only five games left to play after Sunday, a 17-point deficit would be mathematically impossible to overcome, and would guarantee Spurs’ first PL finish above Arsenal since the spring of 1995.

The fact that Spurs could end that embarrassing, heinous streak in a game against Arsenal, in perhaps their next-to-last game at White Hart Lane, and maybe even close to within a single point of Chelsea in the title race… it’s almost all too timely and too perfect to believe it could really happen… to Spurs.


Finish the job

With all due respect to Middlesbrough (home), West Bromwich Albion (away), Watford (home) and Sunderland (home), Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they’ve lost on their last two visits (all competitions) and they’ll take on seventh-place Everton (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com), is far and away the toughest remaining fixture on Chelsea’s schedule as they chase a fifth PL-era title (fifth in all eras). Having booked their spot in the FA Cup final by beating Spurs last weekend, Antonio Conte is dreaming of — and a favorite to win — a double in his first season at Stamford.


Someone has to finish top-four

Ahead of the weekend, two points separate Liverpool (third), Manchester City (fourth) and Manchester United (fifth), with Arsenal another four back in sixth (but possessing a game in hand). Given all the points dropped by each of the aforementioned sides in recent weeks, it’s important to remember that someone has to finish third and fourth in the PL this season.

We’ve already discussed Arsenal’s titanic task, so here’s the challenges facing the other three this round: Liverpool, at Watford (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com); Man City, at Middlesbrough (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, on  NBCSports.com); Manchester United, vs. Swansea City (7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com).


So long, Sunderland?

For five seasons now, Sunderland have flirted with relegation from the PL; and every previous season, they’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat and managed to stay up. This season, though, under David Moyes, there appears to be no rabbit. With five games to go, safety is a whopping 12 points away, which means a loss to Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com), coupled with a win or draw by 17th-place Hull City, would officially send Sunderland to the Championship next season. If the Black Cats somehow find their way out of this predicament, a northeastern knighthood awaits Mr. Moyes.

French authorities investigating 2018, 2022 World Cup bids

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PARIS (AP) French financial prosecutors are investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and have heard former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

A person with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday that France’s financial prosecutor services (PNF) opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling, and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Blatter was questioned in Switzerland last week as a witness, the same person told the AP.

The office of the attorney general of Switzerland said in a statement that “at the request of and in the context of proceedings being conducted by French justice authorities, it has questioned Mr. Joseph Blatter in his capacity as a person providing information on the 20th April 2017 in Zurich.”

The PNF opened its investigation last year.

FIFA has also been targeted by investigations led by Swiss and US authorities. Last month, FIFA sent 1,300 pages of internal investigation reports into suspected bribery and corruption to Switzerland’s attorney general. The documents complete a 22-month probe by legal firm Quinn Emanuel, which FIFA retained in the fallout from United States and Swiss federal prosecutors revealing their sprawling investigations of soccer corruption in May 2015.

Blatter said last week that he met with U.S. Department of Justice investigators and insisted he was not a suspect in their bribery and corruption case linked to FIFA.

Blatter was suspended from office in September 2015 and later banned from soccer by the FIFA ethics committee.

Johannsson expected to leave Bremen this summer — is MLS next?

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Aron Johannsson’s time at Werder Bremen is all but finished, as the 26-year-old American-born, Icelandic-raised striker is expected to leave the club this summer after 22 months with Die Werderaner.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

Having failed to make much of an impact during his second season in the Bundesliga, following a few promising days early in the fall of 2015, the German press stated on Thursday, in no uncertain terms, “Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club” — quotes from Kicker (translation courtesy of Google Translate):

In addition, Aron Johannsson is leaving the northern club. The US boy was not able to get through the hard competition in the storm, claimed more time, which can hardly be guaranteed in the next season. The fact that Baumann is already talking about finding a meaningful solution with the striker in the summer can be interpreted as follows: Johannsson will leave Werder.

Since various bits and pieces are lost in the above translation, allow us to offer a translation of the translation: the “hard competition in the storm” refers to the three or four strikers presently ahead of him in the pecking order. Johannsson fell down the depth chart due in large part to a hip injury which cost him the final seven months of last season.

Johannsson was recently quoted as saying, “It’s not my desire to leave, but at the end of the day it’s important that I play. I love football, but I need to play to be happy.”

[ MORE: John Brooks hip injury is worrying ahead of World Cup qualifiers ]

So, what’s next for Johannsson?

He can probably forget about a move to a top-division team in any of Europe’s premier leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France). A move back to Holland, where he starred at AZ Alkmaar (39 goals in 81 games) before moving to Bremen, would make sense if his goal is to stay in Europe at all costs. Another strong season (just a half, even) could earn him another shot with a first-division side roughly the size of Bremen.

Then, there’s MLS, which Johannsson’s been linked with before, and has publicly expressed a desire to join one day. As a current U.S. national team player, a move to MLS would mean a trip through the league’s allocation order for Johannsson. As of this posting, the Houston Dynamo hold the no. 1 spot in the allocation order, with Columbus Crew SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Minnesota United and Orlando City SC rounding out the next five.

[ WATCH: If you haven’t Darlington Nagbe’s latest golazo ]

Any team in MLS could land Johannsson by acquiring the top spot in the allocation order, via trade, and agreeing (what would almost certainly be) a Designated Player contract with him.

At the age of 26, Johannsson will likely feel there is still something left for him to accomplish in Europe. A strong showing in this summer’s Gold Cup (he’s a perfect candidate for Bruce Arena’s “B-team”) could open plenty of eyes — and doors. Money talks, though, just as the opportunity to be the face of the franchise and score a boatload of goals in MLS might also do.