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.

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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?

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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.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kluivert junior leaves Ajax for Roma in $21m transfer

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ROME (AP) — Roma signed Justin Kluivert, the son of former Milan and Barcelona forward Patrick, from Ajax on Friday for a fee that could rise to 18.75 million euros ($21.8 million).

The 19-year-old Dutch international forward has agreed a five-year contract with Roma.

“I’m very happy. I’m at an incredible club,” Kluivert said. “I cannot wait to start. I believe that Roma is the ideal team for my growth, which will allow me to play at the highest levels.”

Kluivert junior made 56 appearances and scored 13 goals for Ajax. He has one cap for the Netherlands.

He joins Roma for an initial 17.25 million euros ($20.1 million) and performance-related clauses could see the price rise by 1.5 million euros.

Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, interested in purchasing AC Milan

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The Ricketts family, who purchased a controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs back in 2009, have interest in further pursuing ownership in financially troubled Italian club AC Milan.

According to a family statement, “The Ricketts family brought a championship to the Chicago Cubs through long-term investment and being great stewards of the team … They would bring this same approach to AC Milan.”

First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the news of the Tom Ricketts’ interest in the team comes on the heels of news that current owner Li Yonghong had failed to meet a Friday deadline for a $37 million loan payment. According to reports, the missed payment means that Li will cede control of the club to Elliott Management, who loaned the Chinese businessman the money to complete his initial purchase of the club last April.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported the family’s interest in the club, and quoted their source as saying, “The Ricketts put together the management team, resources and training facilities [for the Cubs]. [They did] everything you need top to bottom to be successful.”

Ricketts has plenty of history in soccer ownership, having previously been a part of the group that owned English club Derby County before selling back in 2015. This May, Ricketts also announced he was leading an investment group that is looking to bring a USL expansion team to Chicago.

Forbes values AC Milan at $612 million – a massive 26% 1-year decline – and ranks them the 17th most valuable soccer club in the world. That valuation could be further on the decline, as the storied club missed out on Champions League qualification for the fifth straight year, although they qualified for their second straight Europa League appearance with 6th place finish in last year’s Serie A table, eight points behind Lazio in fifth.

AC Milan also faces heavy sanctions from UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play, although those fears could be eased with the financially-troubled Li selling the club.

The Ricketts family’s wealth comes largely from investment banking, with Tom’s father J. Joseph Ricketts having founded Ameritrade back in 1975. Tom is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, while his father has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.

Xhaka, Shaqiri display controversial goal celebrations in win over Serbia

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A seemingly innocuous goal celebration performed by both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri has thinly veiled, politically charged undertones and could potentially land the pair in FIFA disciplinary proceedings following Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Serbia.

Both displayed a bird hand signal as they celebrated scoring goals, and considering their pre-match comments, post-match social media posts, and ethnic backgrounds, those were clearly meant to represent the double-eagle symbol in the middle of the Albanian flag.

This is a complicated political scenario, but it could be considered by FIFA to be politically provocative. Shaqiri is Albanian, born in Kosovo before moving to Switzerland with his parents and three siblings when he was just a year old. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia. Xhaka is of Albanian descent, and his father previously participated in a demonstration against the communist Yugoslavian rule in Kosovo that landed him a lengthy jail sentence. Albania and Serbia have a particularly tumultuous relationship, with their leaders meeting for the first time in over 60 years in 2014, which caused tempers to flare.

Following the match, Xhaka posted a picture of his celebration on his Instagram story, with the caption in Albanian roughly translated to, “Here you go Serbia, this is why they call me Granit Kosovo!” He deleted the post, and replaced it with an image of his celebration side-by-side with Shaqiri’s, with the slightly more cryptic caption, “We did it, bro!” in English.

FIFA is wildly against any type of political demonstration or involvement in the world of soccer. The governing body has punished individual nation federations in the past for government involvement, while political demonstrations on the field are fiercely frowned upon.

Switzerland captain and new Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner came to the defense of his two teammates after the match. When asked about the celebrations, he said to Goal.com, “We had a lot of pressure, it was not an easy game for us. We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It was a very tough game for them mentally.”

“It was good. Why not? This is the history for them,” Lichtsteiner continued. “The war between them was so difficult. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. This is more than football. This is more than football because they have this period, this war that gave them both big problems. I understand them. I think it’s normal, it’s part of their life. There was also big provocation ahead of the game from them [Serbia], so I think it’s normal.”

Shaqiri could be in especially hot water. The Stoke City midfielder wore boots with the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo. He has made it clear in the past that he values his roots, saying, “I was born in Kosovo, but I grew up in Switzerland. I live both mentalities, it’s not a big difference.”

Switzerland finishes its World Cup group stage round with a match against Costa Rica on Wednesday in which a win would secure a spot in the knockout stage.