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.


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.

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.

MLS Weekend Preview: Friedel’s Revs get NYCFC test

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It’s an international break, and Major League Soccer is only sorta observing it.

More than half of the league’s clubs will participate on Saturday match days, with several shorthanded by national team duty.

[ MORE: Southgate on racism in football]

Columbus won’t have Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp for a visit from DC United — who is missing Zoltan Steiber, Bruno Miranda, and Oniel Fisher — while the Red Bulls will be without Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, and Michael Murillo for Minnesota United’s visit.

NYCFC won’t have Alexander Ring, Ronald Matarrita, and Rodney Wallace, Portland’s without David Guzman and Andy Polo, and Sporting KC loses Daniel Salloi.

The Whitecaps won’t have center back Kendall Waston, while opponents LA Galaxt are without Ola Kamara.

New England Revolution vs. New York City FC — 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Brad Friedel‘s New England revolution, purposely lower case, is making believers out of its players. It would take a giant step if it could slow the NYCFC juggernaut. The visitors have allowed just one goal in their 3-0 start.

As for the hosts, Friedel has made his mark in a way that mostly makes you wonder what in the world Jay Heaps was doing:.

(Bunbury) pointed to a fine system in the locker room, increased accountability, how Friedel posts the starting XI on game day, and occasional two-a-day training sessions, which never occurred in the forward’s four years under Heaps.

“I think it unifies the team,” Bunbury said. “The broad sense of professionalism, it’s about having respect for each other and making sure you are held accountable in every part of this club.”

Never occurred under Heaps? Woof.

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers — 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

FCD had an uninspiring ending to their CONCACAF Champions League dreams, but that’s little compared to the Timbers’ 0-2 start under Gio Savarese. A trip down South isn’t a surefire way to right the ship.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET Saturday

A long trip up North is only made worse by a laundry list of injuries for Sigi Schmid’s Galaxy. We’re only listing it amongst our Top Three because an LA win would be wildly impressive given the ‘Caps strong start.


Columbus Crew vs. DC United — 6 p.m. ET Saturday
New York Red Bulls vs. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting KC — 9 p.m. ET Saturday

Mourinho: “People with brains” understand Man Utd in transition

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Jose Mourinho’s been having a little fun on his international break, “managing” a team of superstars including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in a charity match.

[ MORE: Southgate talks racism in football ]

Speaking CNN as part of a publicity run, Mourinho was asked about Manchester United’s second place campaign and disappointment after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho reiterated his position that United is a team in transition, and that the season is going along at an acceptable clip.

“I understand the frustration, I understand the sadness of being knocked out in the Champions League, but I don’t understand anything more than that,” Mourinho said to CNN’s Amanda Davies.

United has scored the third-most goals in the Premier League, and allowed the fourth-fewest. It’s drastically reduced its propensity to draw matches, which hurt its table position last season, and has already surpassed last season’s goal total.

Two more wins, 10 goals better differential, and the list goes on but unfortunately also includes crosstown rivals running away with the league and still alive in the UCL.

“Of course in the future we want to have 19 clubs behind us but this is the reality,” said Mourinho. “And the reality is for people with brain, with sense, with common sense, with knowledge of what sports is, we are in a moment of transition. Being in a moment of transition and still manage to do what he did last season and win trophies and to do what we are trying to do this season, which is still trying to win a trophy, and try to be second, because in this moment it’s the only top position that is possible for us to get. I think we are in a good position.”