Soccer

Williams ready to tackle her first MLS sideline reporting assignment

On Sunday, Allison Williams will make her Major League Soccer sideline reporter debut during ESPN’s telecast of the New York City FC-NY Red Bulls game at Yankee Stadium (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

The ESPN college sports reporter says she will carry with her sage advice from a colleague from the 2011 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament.

“My co-worker [ESPN college sports play-by-play commentator] Bob Picozzi gave me the advice told me ‘this might be new for you, but just rely on your craft and that would translate to any broadcast and any sport,’” said Williams.

In advance of this “New York Derby,” the biggest match of the first MLS Rivalry Week, Williams spoke to Front Row about preparing for the assignment.

What are you looking forward to most with this MLS assignment?
First of all, the fact that it is Heineken Rivalry Week; you’ve got a new club trying to establish itself, and the proximity of the teams adds up to an interesting mix in New York. I’ve covered Major League Baseball for five years. I’ve been to 24 of the current ballparks, but I’ve never been to Yankee Stadium.

To have this match in such an iconic place, the rivalry, the intensity of the fans, I just can’t wait to get there and see what MLS fans are really like. I want to hear the chants. I want to feel that passion. That’s what makes covering sports so much fun. When you have that kind of excitement of an emerging MLS rivalry, in a place like Yankee Stadium, it is going to make for an awesome combination.

What appeals to you most about soccer?
I really appreciate the grace and athleticism that is on display on the field. Soccer athletes are extremely underrated when it comes to their pure athleticism. I am excited to see it close and in-person for the first time.

Do you prepare differently for New York City FC-NY Red Bulls versus other events?
The biggest difference in my preparation for this assignment is that there’s just more of it. Because I’m new to MLS, you don’t start with that foundational knowledge that you have if you are covering a sport regularly. So for me, it is just more – watching more games, doing more research, taking more time in studying names and faces. You rely on your team so much more when you are new to a sport. I’ll rely more on Taylor Twellman, the match analyst, the lead producer, Todd Kulis, and his entire crew.

The biggest thing for me is making sure that I know what I don’t know. I would rather ask, maybe, a question that might be seen as dumb in a production meeting if it saves me from asking a foolish question on air.

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