We knew it wasn't going to last forever. John Strong was simply too good to be ignored. In my opinion he is one of the best (if not the best) American soccer play-by-play announcer. So it should come as no surprise to hear that NBC Sports hired Strong to be their lead MLS announcer. For him to get this kind of recognition for his efforts is great not only for him, but for our sport at large.
But it's not only about John Strong, the Timbers' on air color commentator will also be expanding his duties for NBC. Robbie Earle will continue with the national network as one of NBC's MLS analysts. This should also not come as a huge surprise. Throughout Strong's tenure with the Timbers in MLS, Earle has been right there with solid commentary throughout. He is not expected to leave the Timbers broadcasting team entirely.
Both are expected to begin their (new or enhanced) duties with NBC in July.
Turning back to our local broadcasters, the Portland Timbers certainly didn't wait long to announce their replacements. First, for play-by-play the Timbers will bring on Portland native and Portland State University graduate Christian Miles. Miles has served with FOX Soccer in recent years calling play-by-play for the English Premier League, Serie A and MLS. He also recently called the Portland Timbers - DC United game in Strong's absence.
Finally, while not announced today, Merritt Paulson mentioned on Twitter that the famed Jimmy Conrad will be taking over some of Robbie Earle's on air commentary this season. Here's what he wrote:
We have a terrific on-air team lined up to replace John/Robbie in @christianrmiles and @JimmyConrad for the remainder of the season.— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) June 23, 2013
How Conrad and Earle divide up the duties is still a bit of a mystery.
Christian Miles will call his first game as the Timbers' full time broadcaster for the match against the Columbus Crew, July 7th on ROOT SPORTS.
Also, once again, big congratulations to John Strong and Robbie Earle.