Lead ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman always wished for an opportunity to play a professional match in front of fans in his hometown of St. Louis.
In a career that spanned 11 years – three in the German Bundesliga and eight in Major League Soccer – and 30 international caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team, he never did.
Tonight at Busch Stadium, Twellman finally will get the chance to be part of a match in St. Louis – as a color commentator for ESPN2’s telecast of USA versus St. Vincent and the Grenadines (7 p.m. ET), the U.S. team’s first qualifier in its quest for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Twellman will be joined by play-by-play commentator Ian Darke. Bob Ley will anchor studio coverage from the site.
Front Row caught up with Twellman ahead of his return home to St. Louis.
What are your thoughts as you approach working your first match in St. Louis?
Naturally, I would have given anything to have played a World Cup qualifier in front of the St. Louis crowd in my career. But it wasn’t meant to be. As such, calling a U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup qualifying match is the closest thing I can get to that. It will be a surreal moment to see Busch Stadium sold out, playing the national anthem before the road to 2018 World Cup begins.
What memories do you have of the last U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup qualifier in St. Louis (versus El Salvador) on Nov. 5, 1989?
It was the time that the National team was some “myth” and I was one of those fortunate enough to see the team play in person. It was at Soccer Park and I was nine years old. I remember the 0-0 tie. It was a real bummer because many were telling us young ones they would not qualify for the World Cup. Needless to say, the players had other thoughts two weeks later.
What are some of the things you plan to do with UK-based commentator Ian Darke?
I am having Ian, Bob, and the entire ESPN crew – truck and all – to my parents’ house as a thankful gesture of making me look good. But, more importantly, for my family to talk their ears off about how cool I am.. .haha!
Editor’s Note: Twellman later tweeted the photos below from his family’s house.
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) November 13, 2015