How Taylor Twellman Breaks Huge Soccer News
The ESPN analyst talks to American Soccer Now about his recent run of excellent scoops, why he takes to Twitter to break news, and how he's learning from the best in the game.
August 11, 2014
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Here are four of the biggest United States soccer stories of the past year:
Michael Bradley returning to Major League Soccer
The United States World Cup roster
Kaka to MLS
Landon Donovan retiring
Taylor Twellman, ESPN's irrepressible analyst, broke all of them. Not bad for a former New England Revolution forward with no formal journalism training.
When asked about his recent run of scoops, Twellman was quick to credit veteran soccer reporters—the "hustlers" who are constantly out breaking news—and played down his role.
"Twenty-four hours later, no one is going to know who broke Landon Donovan because it's about Landon Donovan," he said.
But the fact is that Twellman has been the man at the front of some huge stories. What changed? Well, nothing, actually. He always knew things through his deep connections in the American soccer world. The difference is that he only recently decided to start putting the tidbits out into the world.
"It's not like all of a sudden I'm starting to hear things," Twellman said. "I realized that there's a niche. Fans want to know. I see the importance of creating a buzz. I did not make a conscious decision [to start reporting the news]. I just think that there is a value to ESPN, who is my employer, and to me growing the sport as best that I can in the position I'm in."
Twellman still sees himself as an analyst first and says he doesn't actively go out and search for news. But when it comes to him, he will do his due diligence: "It's not like a stork flies by and drops off a piece of paper. I will pursue it once I know something's up. I do pursue reasons why something may happen. Are the parties happy or sad? But I'm not up at 4 in the morning calling people."
He continued. "I will never jeopardize a relationship with any player, with any coach, with any general manager for a tweet. I call people and make sure everything is fine."
I wondered why Twellman broke stories on Twitter instead of doing a hit on Sportscenter or ESPNFC.
"It's 2014. My life is spent on an airplane," he said. "Look at Adam Schefter. Look how he does it. It's very difficult to be near a camera when you're flying all the time. When something is going to go, ESPN knows."
Twellman scored some big scoops, but he thinks of himself as a rookie, someone who's just trying to get better and learn as he goes.
"I had no schooling on this," he said. "This is an internship for me, listening to writers talk about how they would portray it. I've been very blessed to have a guy like Marc Connolly at my side teaching me the editorial and the journalist side of things. I do my very best to follow that because my relationships with people are more important than any tweet or any news that I break. If my relationships are wrong or I've violated journalistic protocol, one, ESPN is going to call me in a heartbeat and two, I can tell right away if a relationship is damaged."
"I'm not saying people don't get mad. They get mad all the time. But as long as they respect and trust me, that's fine. I want people to know they can confide in me and tell me stuff and know it will stay there until it can go public."
One thing is certain: