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Originally published Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Sounders hire announcers Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller

Sounders FC has hired Ross Fletcher as the team's play-by-play announcer and former goalkeeper Kasey Keller as an analyst.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sounders FC will have a new voice, but with a similar accent.

The team announced Tuesday that Englishman Ross Fletcher, formerly of the BBC, will take over as play-by-play man for his countrymate Arlo White, who left to lead the soccer coverage for the new NBC Sports Network.

Fletcher, 32, will be joined in the broadcast booth by former Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who will serve as color commentator, as first reported by The Seattle Times.

The task of replacing White, who became beloved in two short years, is daunting, but Fletcher can draw on previous experience. He got his big break at 22 when he became the voice of Derby County for BBC Radio Derby and took over for Graham Richards, a local legend who had been on the call for 26 years.

"For me, it was very important that I stuck to what I thought my skills were and expressed commentary in my own way and my own style, and within a couple years the fans were loving me, as well," said Fletcher, a friend and former colleague of White, on a conference call.

"So I'm used to dealing with the pressure of taking over for a guy who's held in really high esteem. I'm just really hoping that I can carry over the fantastic work that Arlo's done over the past two years and continue what is already, obviously, a great legacy that he's left."

Fletcher has already taken to the city and boasts a surprising Seattle connection. An avid basketball fan growing up, he had a poster of Sonics star forward Shawn Kemp on his wall and enjoyed watching the NBA team from afar.

He's already taken to the Sounders — particularly the passionate fan base — as well.

"Cut me and I'll bleed rave green," he joked.

The broadcasting hires are a shift back to a two-man booth, as White had called games by himself the past two years. Fletcher said he's comfortable having a partner and has worked alongside a color commentator nearly all his career.

Working alongside a local legend also has its appeal.

Fans will "hang off his every word," Fletcher said of Keller, "and hopefully they'll hang off my every word, as well."

Note

• The Sounders will open preseason training camp Jan. 19.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com;

On Twitter: @joshuamayers

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