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Scott D. Pierce: ESPN's Ian Darke made a dark night brighter
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sunday was a dark night for Real Salt Lake fans, what with the 3-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy in the MLS Western Conference finals.

But ESPN's Ian Darke proved once again he's the best soccer play-by-play man working in this country. He's got a way with words and speaks his mind.

While ESPN remains slobberingly enamored of David Beckham, Darke wasn't afraid to call his dive a dive. "It looked a bit theatrical, didn't it?" he said. Although he later allowed that Beckham "has still got a magic wand of a right foot."

Darke looked at the replay of the questionable penalty kick awarded to L.A. and said, "Is this a penalty, really?"

And when L.A.'s Landon Donovan grabbed hold of Chris Schuler's jersey, Darke said, "If he wants it that bad, buy one in the club shop."

Too bad RSL won't be playing when Darke calls the MLS Cup final in a couple of weeks.

At home on the road • When KJZZ picked up the Arizona telecast of the Utes-Wildcats game on Saturday — thanks for that, by the way — you had to expect that the visiting team would be homered on the air.

Quite the opposite proved to be true. Yeah, the Arizona announcers made a lot of excuses for the Wildcats' 34-21 loss, but from the outset they were far kinder to Utah than the local media have been.

They were so effusive, as a matter of fact, that if you didn't know better you'd wonder how the Utes managed to lose any games at all.

Cleveland rocks • Former BYU basketball coach Steve Cleveland is proving to be a fine analyst for BYUtv's telecasts. Yeah, he was more than a bit of an apologist for the Cougars' closer-than-it-looks 96-85 win over Dixie State on Friday, but Cleveland has the expertise and he communicated it well.

Just one thing, coach. If you ever again mention that private school on Salt Lake's east side, it's three syllables, not four. Westminster, not West-minister.

ESPN loves the Seattle Sounders FC? •The opening segments for Wednesday's Seattle-Real Salt Lake game on ESPN2 were a little over the top for the Sounders.

There are two ways to look at that. Either ESPN wanted Seattle to win, or ESPN was trying to persuade viewers to watch a game when one team was behind 3-0 when it started. I'm thinking it was the latter.

The JJ DiLuigi show • "ESPNU All-Access: BYU Football" may have featured a future TV star. Running back JJ DiLuigi, who co-hosted a tour of BYU football facilities with center Terrence Brown, was a natural. And you had to love this info:

"My whole team has kind of like developed this culture of whenever they hear me throwing up, they'll be like 'OK! It's game time!' " DiLuigi said.

Scott D. Pierce's column appears Mondays and Fridays in The Mix. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com.

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