Taylor Twellman on the call for MLS Cup
Taylor Twellman isn’t going to lie to you.
He played eight decorated seasons (2002-09) for the Revolution, a tenure that happens to be as long as the eight-year contract extension the high-profile soccer analyst signed last month with ESPN.
His affinity for the franchise for which he scored a team-record 101 goals before concussions forced a premature retirement in 2010 remains strong. He competed in four MLS Cups with the Revolution, but never played on the winning side.
So Twellman understands why some might wonder whether the color analyst will be able to subdue any rooting interest Sunday when the Revolution pursue that elusive first title against Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy.
The host Galaxy, who led MLS in goals scored and fewest allowed, will be pursuing their fifth title, two coming via 1-0 overtime victories over Twellman and the Revolution in 2002 and ’05.
“Ah, there will be no bias, but in fairness I’d rather be honest with people,’’ said Twellman, who will provide color on ESPN’s 3 p.m. Sunday broadcast alongside play-by-play voice Adrian Healey. “If the Revs win, I’m going to be pretty happy. I can say that up front. If the Revs win, I will be a happy guy. Get it over with and get used to the fact that if they win, I’d probably celebrate and congratulate them, just like I would LA.
“But during the 90 minutes of the call, I’m going to be honest, straight to the point. It’s not that hard to do, because you’re reacting rather than rooting. If you’re forthright and honest about what you’re seeing, and call the game for what it is, then there’s nothing to worry about.”
While Twellman has the lasting association with the Revolution, he is actually more familiar with the current edition of the Galaxy.
“I’ve called 16 LA games this year. So if I have a bias, at least in terms of familiarity, it’s on LA.,’’ said Twellman. “I knew that, in taking this job with ESPN three years ago, there would come an opportunity when I was calling a game where a former teammate, whether Jay Heaps or Steve Ralston or Pat Noonan or Matt Reis, all of those guys would be some part of these organizations, because that’s inevitable. And I knew that. Every broadcaster, every one, will deal with that at some point in a career.”
The Galaxy are favored to win. But for such a juggernaut, it is also something of a sentimental favorite because it is Donovan’s final match.
Arguably the most iconic and accomplished United States-born male soccer player ever — not to mention MLS’s all-time leader in goals (144) and assists (136).
“Donovan and [Robbie] Keane are dynamic, special players,’’ said Twellman. “It’s going to be won or lost in the midfield. It’s imperative that the Revolution play with patience.”
Twellman noted that the Revolution have lost just one of 14 matches since adding US men’s national team midfielder Jermaine Jones in August. He said Jones’s poise and experience in pressure situations will be crucial Sunday.
“Ultimately, as excited as you get for a Cup final, they’re going to have to be extremely smart and not get caught up in a game that’s wide-open, because that will play completely into LA’s hands,” said Twellman. “I would not be surprised to see this end up as a 4-2 or 4-3 final.”
Globe hires Speier
Alex Speier, who built a loyal following in recent years with his insightful, prolific, and wide-ranging Red Sox coverage at WEEI.com, has been hired by the Globe.
Speier’s work will be featured primarily on BostonGlobe.com, where he will write about all of aspects of Boston sports, with an emphasis on the Red Sox. His work will appear in the print edition on some occasions.
Speier, a Harvard graduate, has written for several New England publications, including the Union-Leader in New Hampshire. But it was during his time at WEEI.com that he carved out a distinctive niche with his broad and analytics-based coverage of the Red Sox.
He is also particularly tuned in to the Red Sox farm system, having hosted a prospect-oriented program and podcast for WEEI.
Speier begins in January.
A CBS shakeup
CBS Sports Radio announced a shakeup of its daily national programming lineup, and it didn’t exactly come as breaking news.
The website the Big Lead reported in November what the network confirmed Thursday. Among the more interesting transactions:
Dana Jacobson is out as a co-host of the morning program with Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, with Barber and Tierney moving to the 9 a.m.-noon slot.
John Feinstein’s afternoon program has been canceled.
Programs hosted by Jim Rome, Scott Ferrall, and Doug Gottlieb remain in their spots.
And most notably locally, Damon Amendolara will move from the overnight shift to the 6-10 p.m. window. That’s essentially the spot Amendolara filled at 98.5 The Sports Hub before leaving for the national gig in December 2012.