Behind the Mic: Apple Announces Broadcasters for MLS Season Pass; Faxon and Kaufman Join NBC’s 2023 Golf Commentary Team

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Apple and Major League Soccer have announced who the members of their announcing team will be for MLS Season Pass, Brad Faxon and Smylie Kaufman join NBC’s golf commentary team for the 2023 year, and more.

Apple and Major League Soccer Unveil Broadcasters for MLS Season Pass

Apple and Major League Soccer today announced the initial members of the accomplished team of announcers that will serve as the faces and voices of MLS Season Pass, the unprecedented subscription service launches February 1, 2023, on the Apple TV app in more than 100 countries and regions.

Spearheading the coverage will be a team of talented broadcasters and soccer legends, including Kyndra de St. Aubin (match analyst), Maurice Edu (match analyst), Lori Lindsey (match analyst), Danielle Slaton (match analyst), Taylor Twellman (match analyst), Marcelo Balboa (match analyst), Sébastien Le Toux (match analyst), Sacha Kljestan (studio analyst), Bradley Wright-Phillips (studio analyst), Diego Valeri (studio analyst), Liam McHugh (studio host), Jillian Sakovits (studio host), Tony Cherchi(studio host), Max Bretos (play-by-play), Steve Cangialosi (play-by-play), Jake Zivin (play-by-play), Pablo Ramírez (play-by-play), and Frederic Lord (play-by-play). The complete on-air broadcast team — which represents many of the industry’s most qualified and compelling announcers — and the full production plan for MLS Season Pass will be announced prior to the start of the MLS 2023 season, which begins February 25.

“MLS Season Pass will deliver the best viewing experience that MLS fans have ever had, in large part to these incredible announcers, who will be calling the matches and bringing their passion, energy, and know-how for this league, these clubs, and this sport each and every week,” says Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services. “Today is a milestone moment for our partnership with MLS, as we begin to unveil some of the faces and voices of this unprecedented streaming service, and we can’t wait for fans to start tuning in next month.”

“We are thrilled to assemble a dynamic, knowledgeable team of broadcasters for MLS Season Pass, individuals who have lived and breathed the beautiful game for many years,” says Don Garber, MLS’s commissioner. “This talented group of men and women has taken part in the biggest moments across the soccer and sports landscape for the past decade; whether covering them on air or taking part in them as players, they have been at the center of building our sport in North America. We are excited to see how their diversity of experiences will elevate our coverage and storytelling across our live matches and studio shows, bringing our sport to fans around the globe like never before.”

MLS Season Pass will feature every match of the regular season, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and Leagues Cup* all in one place, with consistent match times and no blackouts — a first in live sports broadcasting. It will also feature pregame shows, a whip-around show that will provide live look-ins from every match and feature every goal, penalty kick, and big save, as well as analysis and discussion from all the key moments, and a postgame wrap-up to close each night.

All matches will feature commentary in either English or Spanish, while matches involving Canadian teams will also offer commentary in French. Pregame shows and the postgame wrap-up will be available in English and Spanish. Fans in the US and Canada will also have the option to select their home team’s radio for broadcast audio on the Apple TV app where available.

Best-in-Class Analysts

  • Kyndra de St. Aubin has been in the broadcast industry since completing her collegiate soccer career at Minnesota in 2003. She has been part of the FOX Sports family since 2011, having worked two FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019. She has spent the last five years as television analyst for Minnesota United FC.
  • Maurice Edu, a member of the 2010 US World Cup team who played 12 seasons in MLS and Europe, has spent the past five years as an analyst with FOX Sports. He also called Atlanta United matches the past two seasons and provides soccer commentary for CBS Sports.
  • Lori Lindsey played 14 professional seasons and was a member of the 2011 US Women’s World Cup team prior to serving as a soccer analyst for ESPN and CBS Sports. She has also worked as a sideline reporter for Nashville SC.
  • Danielle Slaton, who earned a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games and bronze at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a member of the US Women’s National Team, has been a television game analyst for the last 13 years, including the last eight with the San Jose Earthquakes. In 2018, she made history as part of the first all-female broadcast team to cover one of the five major US men’s sports leagues, joining Lisa Byington and Katie Witham on FOX Sports’ broadcast of D.C. United vs. New England Revolution.
  • A former MLS MVP and US National Team player, Taylor Twellman joins MLS Season Pass after spending the past 11 years as ABC and ESPN’s lead soccer analyst. During his playing career, he was one of the most prolific scorers in MLS history, recording 101 goals in 174 matches with New England. He was the fastest player ever to reach the 100-goal plateau until his new MLS Season Pass teammate, Bradley Wright-Phillips (159), eclipsed the mark.
  • Marcelo Balboa, a former US National Team defender and member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, became the first American player to break the 100-cap barrier in 1995. After retiring in 2002, he went into broadcasting, where he was the lead analyst for ESPN/ABC’s coverage of the 2006 World Cup. He has been part of Univision’s MLS and international soccer coverage since 2014, and spent the last 15 years calling Colorado Rapids matches for Altitude TV. Balboa joins the team as a Spanish-language analyst.
  • Sébastien Le Toux joins MLS Season Pass as a French-language analyst after working as a studio analyst for PHL 17’s coverage of the Philadelphia Union the last four seasons. The Rennes, France, native enjoyed an 11-year MLS career, including six years with Philadelphia, where he became the club’s first-ever All-Star in 2010.
  • Fresh off his retirement from the LA Galaxy, Sacha Kljestan joins MLS Season Pass as a studio analyst. A former member of the US Men’s National Team, Kljestan played 13 seasons in MLS, earning two All-Star bids (2008, 2016). He was a member of the US Olympic team in 2008. Most recently, Kljestan served as a digital host and analyst for Fox Sports’ coverage of the 2022 World Cup.
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips, who began his playing career with Manchester City, spent nine seasons in MLS (2013-21), earning two MLS Golden Boot awards and finishing as the sixth-leading goal scorer (117) in league history. He will make his debut as a studio analyst on the whip-around show.
  • Diego Valeri, the 2017 MLS MVP and 2015 MLS Cup MVP, is the all-time leading scorer in Portland Timbers history. He was a four-time All-Star and led the Timbers to the 2015 MLS Cup title. He will make his on-air debut as a Spanish-language studio analyst.

Captivating Hosts

  • Liam McHugh, who played soccer at the University at Buffalo, will serve as cohost of the weekly whip-around show that will cover all the key moments from every match. He currently leads Turner Sports’ NHL coverage after serving in the same role for NHL on NBC for 10 years. He was lead host for NBCSN, where he anchored coverage for the Premier League, college football, college basketball, and the Tour de France. He was also part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Sunday Night Football and Notre Dame Fighting Irish football.
  • Jillian Sakovits joins the team as a pregame studio host. She spent the last four years covering Atlanta United as pregame and postgame host for FOX Sports South and was also a sideline reporter for ESPN’s soccer coverage.
  • Tony Cherchi, who has covered soccer extensively for ESPN, Univision, and Tubi, including multiple World Cups, will serve as Spanish-language studio host and an analyst on select matches throughout the season.

Engaging Play-by-Play

  • Max Bretos comes to MLS Season Pass after spending the last five years as the play-by-play voice for Los Angeles Football Club. He previously hosted MLS coverage, did play-by-play for ESPN, and was the lead soccer play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports from 2003 to 2010.
  • Steve Cangialosi joins the team after handling play-by-play duties for the New York Red Bulls on MSG for 21 years and the New Jersey Devils for 12. His vast soccer play-by-play background also includes the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games for NBC, as well as calling MLS, Serie A, La Liga, DFB Pokal, Bundesliga matches for ESPN, FOX Sports, and SiriusXM.
  • Jake Zivin has spent the last seven years as the popular TV voice of the Portland Timbers, where he earned three Emmy awards. He has also been a key member of FOX Sports’ soccer coverage, calling MLS, Copa America, SheBelieves Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, and CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying matches.
  • Pablo Ramírez, a former goalkeeper and a native of Jalisco, Mexico, is one of the most popular Spanish television announcers, having led Univision’s soccer coverage for the last 22 years, including MLS and four World Cups.
  • Frederic Lord will be one of the lead play-by-play voices on the French broadcasts. He has handled CF Montréal play-by-play duties for TVA Sports since the club’s MLS inception in 2012.

MLS Season Pass will be available to fans in over 100 countries and regions, bringing MLS to its biggest worldwide audience ever, in a more simple and streamlined way. All matches will be available on billions of devices through the Apple TV app on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices, set-top boxes, and game consoles, and the web at The launch of MLS Season Pass marks the official kickoff of the 10-year partnership between MLS and Apple, a historic first for a major professional sports league.

Brad Faxon and Smylie Kaufman Join NBC Sports’ 2023 Golf Commentary Team

NBC Sports today announced its NBC golf commentary team for 2023, which includes PGA TOUR winners and newcomers Brad Faxon and Smylie Kaufman as well as new assignments for many returning commentators.

An eight-time PGA TOUR winner, Faxon is joining NBC Sports’ team as a hole announcer and will make his on-air debut at the Honda Classic next month. Faxon will also contribute to Golf Central and Golf Central Live From studio programming on GOLF Channel. He previously worked with NBC Sports in 2010 as a hole announcer and from 2013-14 as a studio analyst, while also providing commentary on Sky Sports. Click here for more on Faxon.

Longtime NBC Sports golf analyst Curt Byrum will serve as a hole announcer this year. A 22-year veteran with NBC Sports, Byrum will start his new assignment at this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Kaufman, a PGA TOUR winner who made his NBC Sports on-air debut at several events in 2022, will join John Wood, Notah Begay III and Arron Oberholser as on-course reporters throughout the season. Wood and Kaufman will walk the course this week at Kapalua Resort in Maui. Begay III will begin his year at the Honda Classic and Oberholser will start his assignment at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

Longtime GOLF Channel commentators Damon Hack and Cara Banks will serve as golf reporters this year, conducting interviews with players, family members, executives and more, in addition to continuing in their current roles. Hack will continue to co-host Golf Today on GOLF Channel, while Banks will also anchor studio coverage of Golf Central and Golf Central Live From on the network. Banks’ first reporter assignment will be at the Honda Classic while Hack will begin at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The 18th tower duo of Dan Hicks (play-by-play) and Paul Azinger (lead analyst) return to lead NBC Sports’ golf commentary team for the fifth consecutive year.

“We have the deepest roster in the game and are excited to showcase our new voices in Brad and Smylie as well as familiar faces in new roles as we start the 2023 PGA TOUR season this week at Kapalua,” says Molly Solomon, Executive Producer, GOLF Channel. “We can’t wait for the year ahead with a loaded schedule of championships at outstanding venues: THE PLAYERS, USGA and R&A Championships, all five women’s majors, the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup on NBC, USA Network, GOLF Channel and Peacock.”

NBC Sports’ 2023 golf coverage gets underway this Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 5-8, with the Sentry Tournament of Champions from Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii, on NBC, GOLF Channel and Peacock. More information will be provided in a press release later this week.

Last week, NBC Sports announced its 2023 PGA TOUR broadcast schedule, totaling more than 450 hours of live tournament coverage across NBC, GOLF Channel and Peacock. Click here for more details

Two-time WNBA All-Star, 2006 National Player of the Year and Former North Carolina Tar Heel Ivory Latta Joins ACC Network’s Women’s Basketball Team

Two-time WNBA All-Star and former North Carolina women’s basketball standout Ivory Latta has signed a deal to join ACC Network (ACCN) as a college basketball analyst. Latta will appear in studio weekly as part of ACCN’s Sunday women’s basketball coverage. She will make her network debut on January 8 surrounding ACCN’s women’s basketball tripleheader beginning at noon ET.

“We are delighted to welcome Ivory to the ACCN family,” says coordinating producer Aaron Katzman. “Ivory is one of the best players in ACC history and her passion for the conference is unmatched. We look forward to her bringing that same enthusiasm she showed as a player into the studio each week.”

Latta, the 11th pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft by Detroit, spent 11 seasons in the league with four different teams – Detroit (2007), Atlanta (2008-09), Tulsa (2010-12) and Washington (2013-17). Latta was named to the WNBA All-Star Team in 2013 and 2014 while helping the Mystics to the WNBA Playoffs those seasons and again in 2015 and 2017. She owns career averages of 10.7 points and 2.7 assists per game.

At North Carolina, Latta was a highly decorated player earning USBWA National Player of the Year honors in 2006 along with All-America honors following the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons. She was named ACC Player of the Year in 2006 and is the only player in league history to earn ACC Tournament MVP honors in three consecutive seasons. Latta finished her college career as North Carolina’s all-time leading scorer with 2,285 points, and also holds program records for career three-pointers made (345) and career free throw percentage (.840).

“I am thrilled to join ACC Network,” says Latta. “I loved my playing and coaching days at North Carolina, and I am excited to share my expertise and passion for the game with viewers each week.”

A native of McConnells, S.C., Latta graduated from UNC in 2007 with a degree in exercise and sport science.

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Announces Talented & Accomplished Roster of Commentators Ahead of its U.S. Soccer Coverage Starting This January on HBO Max & TNT

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports has announced its talented and accomplished roster of commentators ahead of the launch of its U.S. Soccer coverage – which kicks off with HBO Max’s first-ever domestic live sports coverage – on Tuesday, Jan. 17, featuring the U.S. Women’s National Team traveling to face the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-host New Zealand at 10 p.m. ET. HBO Max will also present the follow up match between the USA and New Zealand live from Auckland on Friday, Jan. 20,at 10 p.m. ET.

WBD Sports’ well-regarded and diverse lineup of analysts will feature three National Soccer Hall of Famers – Julie Foudy, DaMarcus Beasley and Shannon Boxx – along with former USMNT player and popular American soccer personality Kyle Martino.

  • Foudy – One of the world’s preeminent female soccer stars, Foudy helped lead the USWNT to two FIFA World Cup championships and a pair of Olympic gold medals during her remarkable 17-year international career. The former team captain amassed an impressive 271 international caps between 1987 and 2004. The first American to receive the FIFA Fair Play Award, she was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007. She was a four-time All-American at Stanford. She is currently an analyst with ESPN, and beyond the game she is an author, television producer, podcaster and former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.
  • Beasley – Elected to the HOF in November 2022, Beasley is one of the most renowned players in U.S. Men’s soccer history. As a defender and midfielder, Beasley earned 126 caps throughout his 16-year international career, while becoming the only member of the USMNT to play in four FIFA World Cups. He won five Concacaf Gold Cups during his playing career and four league championships. Professionally, he starred in the MLS for 11 seasons, along with appearances in the English Premier League, Scottish Premier League, Bundesliga, and the Dutch and Mexican first divisions before retiring in 2019. Most recently, he served as a digital host and analyst for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
  • Boxx – A standout defensive midfielder, Boxx made 195 appearances for the USWNT from 2003-15, playing in four FIFA World Cups and earning three Olympic gold medals before retiring in 2015. She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2022. Professionally, Boxx played nine seasons – three seasons in the WUSA, three seasons with the WPS and three seasons with NWSL. She also won an NCAA Women’s Soccer National Championship with Notre Dame in 1995.
  • Martino – One of American soccer’s leading voices, Martino previously served as a studio and game analyst for NBC’s coverage of the English Premier League from 2013-20. As a player, Martino starred across all levels of United States soccer, from being named Gatorade National Player of the Year as a high school senior in 1998, to two-time ACC Player of the Year at the University of Virginia and MLS Rookie of the Year honors in 2002. He also earned eight career international caps before transitioning to broadcasting with ESPN and FOX Sports.

WBD Sports’ commentator roster will also include other experienced soccer voices – both domestic and international – with various ties to the beautiful game.

An award-winning soccer commentator with more than 25 years of experience of calling international soccer, Luke Wileman will serve as TNT and HBO Max’s lead play-by-play voice for U.S. Soccer. A veteran of numerous FIFA World Cups, including this year’s event in Qatar, Wileman has called many of the world’s biggest soccer showcases. He is a two-time Canadian Screen Awards winner for Best Sports Play-By-Play and has been the leading voice of soccer in Canada for more than a dozen years. Wileman began his career with the BBC, including three years as the play-by-play voice of Leeds United.

Four-time Emmy Award-winning sports broadcast Sara Walsh will host WBD Sports’ studio coverage of U.S. Soccer. Walsh spent seven years with ESPN, including as anchor of its flagship program SportsCenter. Walsh has covered USWNT, USMNT and MLS games for FOX Sports, along with the NFL and NASCAR. She was a four-year starter on the University of North Florida soccer team, where she set the school record for goals scored in a single game.

Versatile soccer broadcaster Melissa Ortiz will serve as a reporter for TNT and HBO Max. Previously, she has worked as a host, studio analyst, commentator and sideline reporter for FOX Sports, ESPN and fuboTV. Last month, she served as a FIFA World Cup digital analyst and host in Qatar. As a player, Ortiz was a standout for the Colombian Women’s National Team, helping the team qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015. She was an award-winning soccer star throughout her four years at Lynn University.

WBD Sports and the U.S. Soccer Federation are in the first of an eight-year multimedia rights agreement which made TNT and HBO Max the exclusive English-language home to more than 20 Women’s and Men’s National Team matches every year. High profile matches will include the SheBelieves Cup, CONCACAF Nations League and top-flight National Team friendlies.

ESPN Reveals Commentator Teams for XFL 2023 Kickoff Season Led by Platform’s Signature College Football Voices 

ESPN today announced its commentator teams for the upcoming 2023 XFL kickoff season, beginning Feb. 18.

Key details:

  • Features four teams of signature voices across ESPN’s roster of industry-leading football experts.
  • Each team includes a play-by-play commentator and analyst in the booth plus a reporter and the return of the sideline analyst on the field. The sideline team will provide a unique vantage point for analysis and added access for fans throughout the game.
  • Teams will cover every game each weekend across ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and FX. All games will also be available live on ESPN+.One or more games each week, including the XFL Playoffs and Championship Game, will also be available in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. ESPN Deportes’ commentator team will also be announced in the coming weeks.

“Each ESPN team brings extensive expertise and their backgrounds in college football make them incredibly informed about the players who will be stars at the pro level in the XFL,” says Steve Ackels, ESPN vice president, production. “This talented group of voices, combined with the many on-field production innovations we have planned for this season, will provide fans with unprecedented access to all facets of the XFL.”

ESPN, ABC and FX’s full XFL 2023 kickoff season telecast schedule was announced last week. Commentator game assignments will be announced soon.

Team 1

Fast Facts:

  • Tom Hart (play-by-play) – Joined ESPN in 2012 and has been the voice of SEC Saturday Night college football games since 2017. He also served as a play-by-play commentator for ABC and ESPN’s coverage of the XFL in 2020, in addition to calling college basketball and baseball.
  • Greg McElroy (analyst) – The 2010 BCS national champion joined ESPN in 2014 as a college football analyst for SEC Network. He calls college football games on ESPN/ABC and contributes to ESPN studio shows. He served as an analyst for XFL games on ESPN and ABC in 2020. The host of the Always College Football podcast, he also co-hosts the McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning radio show in Birmingham.
  • Katie George (field reporter) – Former Louisville volleyball star joined the ACC Network at its launch in 2019 and now serves as a reporter for ESPN/ABC Saturday college football games, one of ESPN’s primary volleyball analysts, and contributes to coverage across many college and professional sports.
  • Cole Cubelic (field analyst) – Former Auburn University offensive lineman and captain, joined ESPN in 2011 and is an analyst across the platform’s college football game and studio coverage, including SEC Saturday Night. He also covered XFL games as a field analyst for ESPN/ABC in 2020, and co-hosts the McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning radio show in Birmingham.

Team 2

Fast Facts:

  • Matt Barrie (play-by-play) – Joined ESPN in March 2013. He is a co-anchor of the noon ET weekday edition of SportsCenter and hosts ESPN’s studio coverage for college football Saturdays, as well as calling play-by-play for ESPN’s Thursday night college football franchise.
  • Joey Galloway (analyst) – One of Ohio State’s all-time receiving leaders and a 16-season NFL veteran. Galloway joined ESPN in 2011 and is a college football analyst across studio and game coverage. He also served as an XFL analyst for ESPN and ABC in 2020.
  • Tiffany Blackmon (field reporter) – Joined ESPN in the fall of 2021 and is a college football sideline reporter for the platform. She previously spent more than five years with NFL Media as a reporter and correspondent for NFL Network.
  • Eric Mac Lain (field analyst) – Joined ACC Network in 2019 and is a studio analyst on The Huddle, ACCN’s signature football show. Mac Lain played at Clemson from 2011-15, amassing the most wins (46) by a single player in team history.

Team 3

Fast Facts:

  • John Schriffen (play-by-play) – Joined ESPN in 2020 and is a play-by-play voice across ESPN platforms, calling college football, men’s college basketball, baseball and softball, as well as NBA G League and Summer League and MLB.
  • Tom Luginbill (analyst) – Joined ESPN in 2005 and provides recruiting analysis for top collegiate football prospects as the director of scouting in addition to his college football sideline analyst role, which he’s done the last nine years. Luginbill served as an analyst on XFL games on ESPN and ABC in 2020 and was a quarterback coach in the original XFL, winning a championship with Los Angeles in 2001.
  • Stormy Buonantony (field reporter) – The Emmy-award winning journalist joined ESPN in 2020 and is a college football sideline reporter for the platform. Buonantony also co-hosts the weekday VSiN Final Countdown digital sports talk show.
  • Harry Douglas (field analyst) – The 10-year NFL veteran joined ESPN in 2019 and is a contributor across ESPN studio shows, digital football shows including hosting Countdown to College GameDay, and co-host of the new ESPN Radio show Fitz & Harry.

Team 4

Fast Facts:

  • Lowell Galindo (play-by-play) – Joined ESPN in 2007 and is the lead anchor for Longhorn Network, including hosting Texas GameDay, Texas All-Access, Longhorn Extra and others. Galindo also handles play-by-play for Texas sports, including college football and basketball.
  • Sam Acho (analyst) – The nearly 10-year NFL veteran joined ESPN in 2021. A college football analyst, Acho contributes to college football studio coverage on Saturdays, in addition to being a regular voice across SportsCenter, Get Up and College Football Live.
  • Taylor McGregor (field reporter) – Joined ESPN in September 2019 and is a college football sideline reporter. McGregor is also the lead Cubs reporter during the MLB season for Marquee Sports Network in Chicago.
  • Ian Fitzsimmons (field analyst) – Joined ESPN in 2009 and is a sideline analyst and reporter for ESPN Radio covering college football and NFL games as well as the co-host of Freddie and Fitzsimmons.

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