CHARLOTTE—During a storied 19-year professional career, Sam Lloyd played in all four professional tiers England, and the top two in the United States.
From the English Premier League to six seasons in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls and DC United, the former Ghanaian international boasts an impressive resume.
After swapping his cleats for a microphone last year, the 2013 Supporters Shield winner has arrived in the Queen City, where he will serve as color analyst alongside play-by-play announcer Eric Krakauer for English language matches on WSOC-TV and TV64.
“I’ve basically been at school for 19 years learning this job,” says Sam, who is regarded as a rising star in soccer broadcasting after calling games for the USL, MLS NEXT and Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers.
“Playing for that long, in two prominent countries like America and England, definitely gives me an advantage in the booth. I feel like I understand the dynamics of the game as a whole. I've had ups and downs, seeing the good and the bad. And I think that's what really gives me a great scope to now communicate the game.”
While many former pros may turn to the booth as a means of elongating their careers in the beautiful game, Sam suggests that playing games was a precursor to his true calling in broadcasting.
“This is my second venture, but I think I’m a better commentator than a player,” says Sam, who has turned heads in the U.S. soccer community with his vibrant and informative calls for the Canadian National Team’s World Cup Qualifiers on Paramount Plus.
“As a player, sometimes you have to leave your personality at the door because it might not fall in line with the management. In this line of work, I’m able to have some fun, and bring my personality, along with my soccer expertise.”
Sam, who grew up in South London and made the move to the U.S. in 2012, concluded his playing career in 2020 with USL side Miami FC. From there, he quickly transitioned into broadcasting.
“Way back in 2017, I wrote on my LinkedIn profile that I was looking for broadcast opportunities,” says Sam. “When it came towards the end of my career with Miami FC, I was introduced to the company that produces USL broadcasts in Fort Lauderdale, so I was able to retire and have that right on my doorstep.
“There was an abundance of games to work on to help me to get my reps: there was one weekend where I worked four games! I started to get confidence and was getting good feedback from former managers and my family back home. So I knew I was onto something.”
After forging his broadcast career in Florida, the 37-year-old is thrilled to be bringing his talents to the Carolinas.
“To be the first-ever color analyst with an expansion team is a great opportunity,” says Sam. “I’ve heard great things about the city, and it’s fantastic being in the Uptown club offices with everybody. There’s so much excitement here; it’s a dream come true.”
Sam’s arrival is a boon for lead announcer Krakauer, whose broadcasts will be complemented by Sam’s passionate presence.
“When I began carving out a career in soccer, I was on the RBNY beat and Lloyd was winning his first Supporters’ Shield,” says Krakauer. “He was an explosive player then, and he’s brought that infectious energy and enthusiasm into the broadcasting booth.”
Sam—who made 149 regular-season appearances and scored 25 goals in MLS—stresses the importance of a good rapport between the play-by-play and color analysts.
“It’s so important to have a good bond,” says Sam. “If I’m doing well, it probably means Eric is doing well, and vice versa. We will give each other the opportunities to show our expertise at the right times.
“Eric and I both met in Miami recently, and we sat and talked over a meal for about four hours. Eric knows a lot about the game and we’re aligned on everything when it comes to broadcasting. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Karakauer and Sam both have plenty of experience calling games from a monitor during the pandemic, so the prospect of working live at Bank of America Stadium has plenty of appeal.
“I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere,” says Sam. “There’s nothing like a roaring crowd to get you into another zone.”
Like Krakauer, Sam draws inspiration from vaunted English commentators Peter Drury and Martin Tyler. He also takes his cues from those broadcasting in other sports.
“The Charlotte Hornets broadcasts have some really great calls, and I’m a big fan of American football, so I really like what Drew Brees and Tony Romo are doing. Like them, I like to give a players’ perspective during commentary—what they are thinking in the locker room, or what a certain scenario might feel like.”
The 2013 Supporters’ Shield winner has enjoyed many career highlights, and is no stranger to the sound of a stadium erupting with noise on a big occasion. Sam’s excitement for the 2022 season, and his role in Charlotte FC’s arrival in Major League Soccer, is palpable.
“I’m so excited for the city and what this team means for everyone here,” says Sam. “This place has been waiting for something like this for a long time, and the atmosphere at the stadium is going to be crazy.
“I’ve got a big smile on my face. I’m very happy.”