MLS Season Pass commentary duo Jake Zivin and Taylor Twellman will broadcast Nashville SC’s match against LAFC from GEODIS Park on Saturday night. The duo, often tapped to call the marquee matchups under the new TV deal, will travel to the Music City for the first of several matches in the 2023 season.
“It’s absolutely a dream come true and a dream job for me,” Zivin told Broadway Sports Media in a phone interview on Friday. Heading into his ninth match as a play-by-play announcer for MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, the former voice of the Portland Timbers is relishing his new role.
“The deal is groundbreaking. I think MLS are the first of what is going to become normal for sports broadcasting, for sports viewership over the next however many years,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of something that’s new, that does feel like we’re setting a standard, setting a tone, setting a pathway in sports broadcasting.”
While his role with Apple may be new, Zivin is no certainly no stranger to MLS. The 37-year-old native of Evanston, IL, grew up a fan of the Chicago Fire in the early years of the league. After college, he worked his way up from an internship on the production truck of ESPN’s MLS Soccer Saturdays to broadcasting games with the Portland Timbers since 2014, eventually serving as their television voice for over seven seasons, as well as calling national broadcasts for ESPN and FOX.
MLS has changed drastically, certainly from when Chicago entered the league in 1997, and even from when Zivin began broadcasting Timbers matches in 2014.
“For me, the biggest change is how relevant certain teams are in their markets,” he said. “LAFC, what they’ve done is remarkable. Atlanta is like the biggest surprise, maybe in league history. Austin, great. Nashville, great. Kansas City as well with the rebrand and what they’ve done there. To me, that’s the biggest difference in MLS; the relevancy of teams in their market. I think it’s also the most important.”
Saturday’s match between LAFC and Nashville SC pits two of the newer franchises in the league against each other. The Black & Gold have taken the league by storm since they debuted in 2017. Attractive on the field and with one of the most passionate fanbases in the league behind them, they’re coming off a spectacular 2022 season in which they won both MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield. And they may be even better in 2023.
“LAFC is really good. I think they might be better than last year,” Zivin pointed out. “We’ve called a lot of LAFC games this year, and their depth is so impressive. No matter who’s on the field, it doesn’t seem to change things.”
Nashville have been less flashy, and certainly less expansive, since joining MLS in 2020. But with the league’s best defense and the reigning MLS MVP in front of Hany Mukhtar, and with GEODIS Park averaging 27,365 fans this season, they won’t roll over against the favorites.
“It feels like you almost have to be perfect against LAFC. But Nashville can be that, especially defensively,” he says. “They’ve built this reputation of being really, really hard to beat, especially at home. This would have been more impactful to say before Nashville’s loss last week to NYCFC, but it does feel like the irresistible force versus the immoveable object. You’ve got LAFC’s attack versus the best defense in the league.”
Zivin will be on the call for Nashville SC against LAFC, alongside Taylor Twellman. The match kicks off at 7:30 pm CT and is available to watch with MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.