World Cup

Ian Darke talks about his World Cup schedule and prep, ESPN teamwork

The 32 national teams competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup are tuning up, making final preparations for the start of the tournament next week in Brazil – and so are the broadcasters.

Ian Darke, ESPN’s lead soccer play-by-play voice, has been building up to this moment for some time – even famously calling an awkward first-date as part of his World Cup preparations.

This weekend, Darke and analyst Taylor Twellman will call the United States Men’s National Team’s final Send-Off Series match against Nigeria in Jacksonville (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) before departing for Brazil.

Darke will then call the much anticipated World Cup opener with Steve McManaman, his former ESPN UK booth-mate on English Premier League matches, when host nation Brazil plays Croatia in Sao Paulo on Thursday, June 12 (3:30 p.m., ESPN).

During his visit to the ESPN campus this week, Darke discussed a variety of topics with Front Row (video above), including his World Cup preparations, what it’s like being part of the ESPN broadcast team, and the kind of reaction he has received from American sports fans since bursting onto the scene four years ago in South Africa after calling arguably the signature moment in U.S. Soccer history.

Darke also gives fans a sense of just how electric the atmosphere will be in Brazil, not only at the opener but throughout the month-long event.

Note: For more on Darke, read his recent World Cup interview with and this feature on

Video produced by Josh Lander and Bill Hofheimer

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