The success of the Seattle Sounders has cost them their broadcast voice.
First reported last week by KING5 Sports, NBC formally annnounced the hire Wednesday. NBC on Jan. 2 is re-branding its cable Versus Network as NBC Sports, where most of the MLS games will appear. Four games will be on NBC’s main broadcast platform.
White’s passion for soccer and his thorough knowledge and preparation made him very popular among Sounders fans during his two-year tenure.
“When NBC comes calling, you’ve got to listen,” White told KJR radio host Mike Gastineau by phone from London Wednesday afternoon. “I’m humbled and honored. Hopefully, I can twist enough arms (at NBC) to come and cover a lot of Sounders games.”
In a statement, Sounders majority owner Joe Roth said, “We want to thank Arlo for his contributions over the last two years and wish him continued success at NBC as the voice of the MLS.
“Arlo has set a standard that will be difficult to match and established a connection with our soccer family that will certainly be missed. We have begun the search for the new voice of the Sounders FC, and remain confident that the selection will maintain the high quality the club strives for, and the fans have come to expect.”
White said the response from Sounders fans to the news has been gratifying.
“I’ve had a connection with Sounders fans from the get-go,” he said, “and their heartfelt best wishes have blown m away. I’m nearly overwhelmed by it.
“The great story is going to continue to grow in Seattle. I thank everyone for their best wishes, and hope they won’t hold it against me, and see it as it an opportunity for me.”
White, who was with the BBC for nine years before succeeding Kevin Calabro as TV/radio voice of the Sounders, called the Sounders “a very classy organization” and the parting amicable, even though he had a year left on his contract.
“I’ve walked away from the best job in MLS to this point,” he said. “I think (Sounders management) was a little disappointed to lose me, but they looked at it as a big opportunity for me, as well as to help grow soccer in the U.S.”
White will also broadcast four U.S. Men’s National Team games, and will have Olympic duties as yet unspecified. He may work in the New York headquarters, or from the U.K.
White has maintained a home in London, where his wife, Lizzie, and twin daughters reside. New York’s proximity to London, with more frequent and cheaper fares, air fare was a factor in his decision, he said.
“I’m looking forward to taking it to a national stage,” he said. “MLS will hit the roof in the next five years.”