Jaspers grad-turned-soccer commentator talks shop

Eric Krakauer has called games around world, but he believes in MLS


Once Eric Krakauer arrived in New York, he was there to stay, but that changed quickly when he was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity bigger than his loyalty to the Big Apple.

Krakauer, 42, is a Major League Soccer commentator under contract with MLS Season Pass, the home to the league’s games on Apple TV. He calls Charlotte, N.C. home where he serves as an ambassador for Charlotte F.C. — one of nine expansion franchises in MLS since 2017.

His love for soccer was emboldened by his playing days, including as a member of the Manhattan College men’s soccer team from 2000 to 2002. Krakauer graduated from Manhattan in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

“I have nightmares of playing at Gaelic Park,” Krakauer said with a laugh. “It was more like a potato patch in those days and now it’s artificial turf and it’s great.”

Krakauer speaks with conviction about almost every major soccer league around the world as he educates soccer fans. Part of his career is a journey broken up by 12 years as a high-level amateur soccer player, as well as a stint as a public school teacher.

The path to calling professional soccer games was something Krakauer knew he was good enough to do, even if it felt uncertain to bank on its manifestation.

Growing up in Portugal, soccer was not even the sport of record in his household. His father, a German-born American, preferred baseball, and his mother played basketball. But etched in Krakauer’s memory is watching the 1994 FIFA World Cup hosted by the United States and sharing that special sporting moment with his father. From there, soccer was an easy selling point to his parents.

“He kept getting baseball bats and baseball gloves and I kept asking ‘what do you think I am going to play with here?’” Krakauer said. “People didn’t know what baseball was there.”

Krakauer spent countless hours studying and analyzing soccer leagues all over the world. The best professional leagues in Europe have long been a constant fixture of entertainment and education for Krakauer.  Once he hit the ground running, he believed there were “very few” people in America who had the facts like he did about the power leagues.

“I was easily watching five or six hours a day and reading everything,” Krakauer said. “And that is a painstaking job when you are not getting paid to do it.”

He created his own start-up soccer blog, as well as a podcast with two other future professionals in the industry. That led to him being discovered by BeIN Sports in 2017.

“We didn’t take it too seriously but the three of us knew what we were talking about,” Krakauer said of the podcast.

A listener of the podcast was a senior producer for BeIN Sports who messaged Krakauer. He thought it was a joke at first, Krakauer recalls, but it got real once he traveled to Miami and got a tour of the studio.

“He showed me around and said ‘hey man, do you want to come down to learn about TV and production?’” Krakauer said. “The rest is history.”

After covering some of the best competition in the world, Krakauer began to sense a renaissance of Major League Soccer and he wanted to be a part of it ahead of the 2026 World Cup set to take place in the United States and across North America.

“I strongly believe the future of soccer in this country is dependent on the success of Major League Soccer,” Krakauer said. “I always wanted to work my way back into MLS.”

Krakauer kept tabs on the expansion franchise in Charlotte before accepting the commentator role there. He moved to Charlotte ahead of the club’s maiden season in 2022.

“This city was ready for a soccer team,” Krakauer said. “They showed that with the numbers at Bank of America Stadium.”

A decade ago and years before arriving in Charlotte, Krakauer admits he did not know much about MLS. But he became hooked for good, especially after blogging about the inaugural season of New York City F.C. in 2015. Back then, he travelled to New Jersey as well to cover New York Red Bulls games.

“Funny enough I knew the least about Major League Soccer,” Krakauer said. “And the learning curve in this league is huge because of the nebulous mechanisms that make it work.”

The stakes for MLS have ramped up in recent years with an influx of money and talent. During its inception 27 years ago, the league consisted of 10 teams. That number will triple by 2025 when San Diego enters the fold. During those growth years, there was no competition with the overseas circuits still hogging the attention of soccer fans like Krakauer.

The big difference is European Leagues like the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga have a promotion and relegation system and MLS does not.

In both cases, the best teams still win out, but the tiered approach in Europe allows the high-achieving teams in a lower division to supplant the worst of the higher division.

However, Krakauer is not in that camp when it comes to the future of MLS. Given its relative infancy and the growing capital investment in the franchises, Krakauer says there is no need for MLS to try to be something it’s not.

“Those divisions have been fleshed out for over 100 years in some cases so you are not going to be able to replicate that in Major League Soccer,” Krakauer said. “Owners are more likely to invest if they know they are not going to be relegated.”

The ten-year, 2.5 billion dollar broadcasting deal MLS struck with Apple shows the league is on the rise. Cities around the league have seen attendance numbers mushroom compared to previous years, with the turnout success expanding to expansion cities from Charlotte to Nashville to St. Louis.

The MLS situation got a boost in talent earlier this month with the announcement of Lionel Messi signing for Inter Miami.

Messi is a walking institution himself, propelling the value of Miami’s expansion franchise to over the $1 billion mark after being valued at $600 million before the signing, according to Forbes.

Krakauer points to social media and Messi being in peak form making him the biggest signing of all-time — even ahead of the likes of David Beckham with the MLS and Pelé joining North American Soccer League.

“You are talking about a different type of player in a different moment in time,” Krakauer said of Messi, who is set to debut on July 21. “One where access to athletes is far greater than it was before.”

Before Messi’s debut, Krakauer looks forward to the United States Men’s National Team playing in Charlotte on July 2 for the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“There is a buzz around the city even though the biggest stars won’t be here,” Krakauer said. “And I think the players are going to feel the same way.”

Manhattan College, Jaspers, sports, commentator, Eric Krakauer, Major League Soccer, Gaelic Park