Ian Darke, one of the lead commentators during ESPN's coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will become the sports programmer's top soccer voice in the U.S.
Kicking off on Sept. 25 at 7:30 a.m. (ET) with Chelsea visiting Manchester City, Darke will become the lead play-by-play man on ESPN2's presentations of Barclays Premier League matches. He will also call matches involving the U.S. mens' and women's national teams, top Major League Soccer events, the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Darke, who spent the past 18 years commenting on Premier League and UEFA Champions League games, was the man on the mic for the U.S. team's matches against Slovenia, Algeria and Ghana during the FIFA tourament from South Africa.
"Having Ian Darke as our year-round signature voice for soccer programming reaffirms ESPN's commitment to elevate our overall coverage of the sport in the U.S.," said Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer of ESPN Event Production, in announcing the hire. "Ian's experience, authenticity and passion for the sport, which were evident throughout the World Cup, will resonate with our viewers, who have come to expect top-quality soccer commentary from ESPN."
Noted Darke: "I am delighted and excited to be joining such a polished and talented team as ESPN. It was wonderful to be calling the USA's dramatic World Cup campaign for American audiences -- and I am flattered to be asked back on a permanent basis."