Behind The ScenesSoccer

Taylor Twellman “leaps” into his 9th birthday

Taylor's father Tim played pro soccer in the old NASL. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Twellman)
Taylor Twellman was born Feb. 29, 1980. He’s seen here with his father Tim, a former player in the old North American Soccer League. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Twellman)

ESPN’s lead soccer analyst Taylor Twellman is a “leapling,” one of the rare people born on February 29, Leap Year Day. Since the date only occurs on the calendar once every four years, Front Row asked Twellman what it’s like to have a Leap Year birthday, and how he celebrates.

Twellman, 36, who will be in-studio in Bristol, Conn., on Thursday, March 3, to preview the start of the 2016 Major League Soccer season, also discusses MLS, this summer’s UEFA European Football Championship 2016 and more.

What’s it like having a Leap Year birthday?
It’s hard to describe since it’s a birthday that only comes every four years. When I was little, heck, even now it’s hard to fully comprehend, but then again I’m only nine, so many things are hard to comprehend.

Was it tough having a Leap Year birthday as a kid?
I thought it was cool and different and soaked it all up. Plus, my brother was born on Christmas Eve and my sister was born on Election Day, so odd birthdays were kind of the norm in my family.

How do you celebrate in a Leap Year and in non-Leap years?
Growing up, my mother made every Leap Year something big – surprise parties, renting out rinks for hockey games, themes, etc. However, it was me that made the non-Leap Year birthdays awesome. The 28th or the 1st, I celebrate it and make sure everyone around knows it’s my birthday and to plan accordingly.

Have you ever met anyone else who has a Leap Year birthday?
Only two people: my resident advisor at the University of Maryland and Perry Kitchen, the former DC United midfielder.

Friday was the FIFA presidential election. In your opinion, what global football issues should be at the forefront for the new president Gianni Infantino?
There are so many issues – racism is still a huge problem, but for me it’s simple. While so much of this past summer was about (Sepp) Blatter, (Michel) Platini and others, I still believe FIFA is the problem and the system within. Will a new president be the change FIFA needs or will the new president and executive committee actually do something so the corruption saga never happens again?

This summer you will be part of ESPN’s coverage of the UEFA European Championship in France. What are you looking forward to most?
I am looking forward to our next big tournament here at ESPN and seeing so many of my friends and colleagues that worked so hard in Brazil (at World Cup 2014). The exciting part of the Euros is going to be the Cinderella stories among the first-time participants. They will make the research and calling those games so interesting.

Twellman on 2016 MLS season
 ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman anticipates another exciting MLS season. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman anticipates another exciting MLS season. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)


Twellman, who will call ESPN’s 21st season of MLS, previews this year’s key storylines:

“Our opening game in Portland – where the Timbers will celebrate their MLS Cup championship, then open the season against the Columbus team they beat – will be fun.

Also, LA Galaxy with their roster moves; NYCFC with all three big-name designated players there from the start, along with new coach Patrick Viera; Jordan Morris living up to the pressure in Seattle with (Obafemi) Martins being sold; is this the year Toronto finally gets to a MLS Cup; Orlando in their second year; can Didier Drogba continue the torrid pace he had last year for Montreal? These are just some of the big storylines for the year, and the summer always brings big signings, so who will those be?”

Tune in on Sunday, March 6 (4:30 ET, ESPN) for the MLS Cup 2015 rematch between the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew FC.

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