Tony Husband is no stranger to calling games for a brand-new club.
The long-time BBC play-by-play veteran was the TV voice of Nashville SC for their first three years in Major League Soccer, where he provided the soundtrack for the biggest moments in the club’s early history.
Last weekend, Husband did it again. Recently announced as one of the broadcasters for Apple’s new TV deal with MLS, Husband and Ross Smith were on the call for St. Louis City SC’s MLS debut. The result on the field didn’t disappoint.
“A memorable first game to be doing in the Apple commentary box,” Husband told Broadway Sports Media in a phone interview. “It had everything in terms of the storyline. Storytelling is what we’re going to want to do for the audience, and to generate the interest across season pass. It had all those ingredients in the first night.”
It was a banner weekend for MLS and Apple TV. The product, not without the occasional hiccup, was strong, and displayed the type of dedicated, in-depth coverage fans of the league have been longing for.
“This league wants to move forward, wants to continue to grow, and adding the Apple partnership is obviously a fundamental part of that,” said Husband. “We’re all part of something that is genuinely groundbreaking and different, and I think we’re all acutely aware that here in our world of Major League Soccer, we’ve got many of the sports media eyes from around the world and from all other sports watching how this goes.”
With the Apple TV deal broadcasting MLS across the world, broadcasters have to be away of their global audience, factoring in a wider range of viewers than just those in North America. Husband was particularly excited by this, and already has familiarity with it.
“I can tell you from working in the Premier League in the UK, in my last few years working week in, week out at Premier League grounds, one of the biggest differences was how significant and how important the global audience became,” he noted. “The Premier League has done a super job of embracing the world for the world’s game, if you like. MLS I think is obviously in a different stage of the process, but it is doing something along those lines.”
Below are the MLS Season Pass announcer assignments for Matchday 2 with the play-by-play talent listed first, followed by the match analyst. pic.twitter.com/SvmC7oozaO— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) February 28, 2023
Husband will be back in familiar waters this weekend, on the call for Nashville SC’s match against New York Red Bulls. After an opening day win against the other New York team, Nashville face a completely different type of opponent.
“They have a very distinctive style. They’re unique for a lot of teams to prepare to face,” said Husband. “You know you’re going to be facing a team that’s just very aggressive, and at home… they were more effective away from Red Bull arena last year. This year they know they need to win a few more games at home. They need to get back to that tradition of being a difficult team to face at Red Bull Arena.”
As for Nashville, a team he knows better than most, Husband is optimistic.
“There’s a great conviction, I feel, amongst the group and the players. They really have a sense of purpose about them this season, that this is another step in the evolution of this team,” he said. “They’ve got great confidence and faith in the roster that they have.”
“They’ve made changes where they felt they could add some quality, so people like Fafà Picault coming in. I think that’s a fascinating dynamic, when you have Jacob Shaffelburg, who I’m a big, big fan of, and now you’ve got Fafà Picault potentially on the other side of the field.”
Husband pointed out Picault as a player to watch on Saturday. Likely going up against Red Bulls homegrown left back John Tolkin, the battle between a pacey veteran and one of the more exciting young players in MLS should be one to watch.
“I had a really good chat with John Tolkin this week,” said Husband. “He gave a little insight into everything from how he decides what to do with his hairstyle to what he’s trying to work on with his game. He talked a little more about developing the offensive side of his game, and he’s likely to come up against potentially one of Nashville’s fast wingers. That could be a really interesting battle down that flank.”
Heading into week two of MLS’s new partnership with Apple, Husband is both pleased with the product they’ve already put together and optimistic about its future.
“We all wanted a good start last week and think we all got off to a good start. But let’s not forget that this is a long-term deal,” he said.
“I was really pleased to make such a positive start last week in the knowledge that we’ve got the time now, along with Apple and partners, to evolve the coverage and to continue striving to just make it better and better. The better the product is, the better the league is going to be in the longer term.”
Tomorrow’s New York Red Bulls vs Nashville SC match will be broadcast exclusively on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Fans can sign up by following this link. Apple TV+ subscribers can sign up for $12.99 a month or $79 per season, while non-Apple TV+ subscribers can access the pass for $14.99 a month or $99 per season.
Season ticket members receive an MLS Season Pass as part of their membership. Season ticket holders should check their email for a code to redeem for MLS Season Pass access.