Former DC United Spanish play-by-play announcer to call MLS games on Apple TV

Moisés Linares thought Oct. 9, 2022, might be the last time he called a D.C. United soccer match. With Major League Soccer moving away from local broadcasts and putting its games on Apple TV’s streaming service, Linares — the Spanish broadcast voice for United’s games — was unsure about his future calling soccer matches in D.C.

However, his broadcast partner and former United striker Luciano Emílio told the young broadcaster “you have to be a part of this deal.” A superstitious Linares responded, “We’ll see.”

Fast forward to Wednesday: Linares joins 31 other on-air personalities to fill out MLS’ broadcasting team before the start of the 2023 season. Speaking to WTOP, United’s former Spanish play-by-play announcer explained why he accepted the role and what he expects from Apple TV.

“This is my opportunity. This is my time right now,” Linares said. “I have the platform. I have the backing of both Apple TV and MLS, and I’m gonna see where it takes me.”

Linares began discussions with the league and Apple at the end of last season. Once he was hired, he only told his mother and sister as he waited for the league to make to make it official. It was finally confirmed nearly a month after the first set of hires were announced.

“I’m shocked at the positivity, the messages of encouragement that I’m receiving from people in the DMV, and from people across the across the country that probably don’t know me,” he said.

Moisés Linares worked as a sports anchor for NBC Washington and Telemundo 44. (Courtesy D.C. United)
From left to right, Devon McTavish, Dave Johnson, Claudia Pagan and Moisés Linares made up D.C. United’s broadcast team. (Courtesy D.C. United)
Moisés Linares at the Tokyo Olympics for NBC Washington. (Courtesy Moisés Linares )
Moisés Linares at a book signing for his book, “We Are Not Born Failures.” (Courtesy Moisés Linares )

He will be paired with Jaime Macias, formally of broadcaster beIN Sports, who worked alongside Linares for some United matches during the 2022 season. The league hired multiple bilingual voices known to American soccer fans, like former U.S. soccer star Marcelo Balboa, along with recognizable names from the Spanish-speaking community, like ex-Mexican international player Claudio Suárez.

Commentators will call matches in person this season, requiring Linares to be available to travel. To facilitate more time for play-by-play, Linares announced his departure as a sports anchor for news partners Telemundo 44 and NBC Washington. He covered local pro and amateur teams, gave updates on sports in Latin America and anchored “Sports Final” on Sunday.

“I always thought that if I made it to the national stage, I thought it was going to be with Telemundo,” Linares said. “But it was Apple TV who came knocking, and I can’t say no to this opportunity. It’s now or never, and it was just kind of like the perfect timing for me.”

Linares called United matches on Spanish radio for four years before becoming their lead anchor on their Spanish TV broadcasts on TeleXitos, Telemundo 44’s multicast network. His goal calls became a staple for Spanish-speaking fans in a similar fashion as D.C.’s English play-by-play announcer (and WTOP News alum) Dave Johnson’s “It’s in the net” celebrations.

“Moises is both a hardworking and amazingly talented individual who cares deeply about our game and the D.C. community,” club spokesperson Zach Abaie said in a statement. “We’re proud to see him continue his involvement with Major League Soccer and D.C. United.”

The last four years have also been a roller-coaster ride for the Los Angeles native. He wrote a book during the pandemic on his family’s immigrant journey to the United States from El Salvador. He became one of the key faces of NBC Washington’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, along with Eun Yang, and did Spanish play-by-play for the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

Despite all his roles, Apple’s plans intrigued him. The streaming service signed a 10-year deal with MLS to broadcast games without local blackouts or restrictions in over 100 countries exclusively through the Apple TV app. The 29-team league joins multiple European competitions that have mostly streaming only deals in the United States.

“I know this is going to be something that we’ve never seen before,” Linares said of Apple TV’s coverage. “And it’s probably going to pioneer what the sports world is going to look like in the next five or 10 years.”

Linares will remain in the District as a freelancer journalist, with plans to expand his production company. He also welcomes the chance to call more Commanders games if invited back, he said.

He thanked his colleagues — including Johnson and Emílio — for helping him polish his delivery and voice during United games. Also, he appreciated the support he received from all of the club’s supporter groups as he prepares for the next step in his career.

“I used to walk those railroad tracks down in South Central Los Angeles, just dreaming of one day becoming a play-by-play announcer,” he said. “Although I had the opportunity to do it with D.C. United, both on radio and TV, the platform was never as big as Apple TV.”

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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