Thursday, August 28, 2014
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2013 Major League Soccer games on national television unveiled

A total of 87 games will be broadcast across a range of ESPN, NBC and Univision networks.

2013 Major League Soccer games on national television unveiled

The Portland Timbers´ raucous fan base will be featured in ESPN´s first MLS broadcast of the 2013 season. (Rick Bowmer/AP file photo)
The Portland Timbers' raucous fan base will be featured in ESPN's first MLS broadcast of the 2013 season. (Rick Bowmer/AP file photo)

The Portland Timbers' raucous fan base will be featured in ESPN's first MLS broadcast of the 2013 season. (Rick Bowmer/AP file photo)

(UPDATE: I originally said there's a tripleheader on NBC and NBC Sports Network on October 27. That isn't true. The two NBCSN games are on October 26.)

A total of 87 games will be broadcast across a range of ESPN, NBC and Univision networks. Here's the breakdown.

ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

ESPN will air eight games and ESPN2 will air 13, for a total of 21 broadcasts. Twenty of them will also air on ESPN Deportes, though a few of those will be tape-delayed.

It's worth noting that 19 of ESPN's 20 games will air on Sundays. The first one will be a marquee showdown between the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on March 3.

That game will be new Timbers coach Caleb Porter's first in charge of the team. It will also feature Thierry Henry and the always-raucous Portland crowd, which should make for a good TV show.

Other marquee games include the only game of the season between Los Angeles and Houston, who've met in the last two MLS Cup Finals; and the only game of the season between Dallas and Houston.

As with 2012, the Sunday games at the end of the season will be prime-time telecasts, which means they'll go up against big NFL games. One of them is the Union's visit to San Jose on September 8. But that game won't kick off until 11 p.m. Eastern, which means there won't be too much overlap.

(There will, however, be some groggy Union fans the following morning.)

ESPN also will regularly feature MLS as programming that immediately follows other major live sports events. The final game of the English Premier League season - which will also be ESPN's last EPL broadcast before NBC picks up the rights - will be immediately followed by the only meeting this season between the New York Red Bulls and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Between the lead-in and the markets involved, expect that telecast to be one of the highest-rated MLS gets this year.

In June, ESPN will air Confederations Cup-MLS doubleheaders on three consecutive weekends. One of them will be the Union's only home game of the year against the New York Red Bulls.

In July, a Chicago-Kansas City game will immediately follow ESPN's live broadcast of the Wimbledon men's final. The MLS broadcast window starts at 3 p.m. Eastern, and the tennis match should start and end early enough to avoid any overlap. But if it's a dramatic contest, MLS could see a bump from viewers who stick around.

At the end of July, ESPN2 will air the annual All-Star Game. It will take place at Kansas City's Livestrong Sporting Park on July 31 against an as-yet-unannounced team.

ESPN

Sunday, May 12: Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)

Saturday, June 15: Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, June 23: Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, July 7: Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, September 29: Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, October 13: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, October 20: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, October 27: Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 9:00 p.m.. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes)

ESPN2

Sunday, March 3: Portland Timbers. vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, March 10: San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls, 10:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes*)
Sunday, March 17: FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN2/Deportes)

Sunday, April 7: Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, April 21: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, May 15: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, 11:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, May 19: New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 1:15 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes) 
Sunday, May 26: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders, 11:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, June 30: New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

Wednesday, July 31: MLS All-Stars vs. TBA at Livestrong Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kan.), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Sunday, August 11: FC Dallas vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes*)
Sunday, August 25: Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers, 10:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, September 8: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union, 11:00 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

NBC and NBC Sports Network

NBC

NBC will once again air three games over the air this season. The New York-DC broadcast on March 16 will kick off a day full of rivalries across MLS, including a tripleheader between NBC and NBC Sports network.

NBC Sports president of programming Jon Miller told me that the network is looking forard to seeing MLS "get out of the chute with a great promotional platform" with the so-called Rivalry Week.

"I think what we’ll find is a lot of people will get to see [promotion for MLS] early on in the season," he said. "It helps to build a special day for them."

The other two NBC broadcasts will fall on NFL Sundays, which will make it hard to attract viewers. I asked Miller whether he'd rather see MLS go up against college football or the NFL, and he said it wasn't an easy choice.

"The NFL is always tough and college football, because of the strong regionalization, makes it difficult as well," Miller said. "It’s just a question of households using televisions on weekends and that’s higher on Sundays. You try to program away [from football] when you can."

Saturday, March 16: New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 29: Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 27: D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo, 1:30 p.m.

NBC Sports Network

NBC's cable sports channel will air 38 regular season games, including the first ever appearance for the Montréal Impact on American national television.

Miller told me that going to Montréal was the network's decision, and didn't require any pushing from MLS headquarters.

"We looked at it and thought it was a good game," Miller said. "They’ve done a good job with that franchise and we wanted to showcase that arena."

It's well-known that production costs for American TV networks are much higher in Canada because of labor and other factors. Miller admitted that "producing events in Canada is challenging, no question," but his network will head to Montréal and Vancouver this year. NBCSN will not, however, show any games from Toronto; it did so once last year.

I mentioned the March 16 tripleheader earlier. That day will also feature a whip-around show between the two NBCSN games with live coverage of other MLS games at that hour.

There hasn't been a time set yet for the last game of the March 16 tripleheader, which is Seattle vs. Portland, but it will be in prime time. Expect Arlo White and Kyle Martino to bring you extra coverage of that evening's other MLS games leading into the kickoff at CenturyLink Field.

Miller told me a while back that when NBC got the rights to the English Premier League, the network considered having some EPL-MLS back-to-back bradcasts. It turns out that won't happen, because MLS clubs do better at the gate and on TV with Saturday night games.

"That’s where we can really maximize to help the clubs out, to get them in those prime time windows," Miller said.

Here's NBCSN's full slate for this year.

Saturday, March 2: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9: Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 16: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 16: Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers, time TBD
Saturday, March 23: D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 3:30 p.m. 
Saturday, March 30: New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 6: Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 13: FC Dallas vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14: Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. 
Saturday, April 20: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 27: Montréal Impact vs. Chicago Fire, 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 4: Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls, 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 11: Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 26: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 2: New England Revolution vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 23: Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:00 p.m. 
Saturday, June 29: Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 6: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders, 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 13: Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 20: Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids, 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 27: Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire, 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 3: Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 10: Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 17: New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, August 23: Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, August 30: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, 10:00 p.m. 
Saturday, August 31: New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United, 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 7: Seattle Sounders vs. Chicago Fire, 10:00 p.m.
Friday, September 13: Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:00 p.m.
Friday, September 20: Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 21: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m.
Friday, September 27: Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:00 p.m.

Friday, October 4: D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 5: Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders, 10:00 p.m.
Friday, October 18: Sporting Kansas City vs. D.C. United, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 19: FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders, 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 26: Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City, 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 26: San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m.


Univision and Uni Más

For the first time in a long time, MLS gets a game on Univision over-the-air: Los Angeles vs. Chicago on the season's opening weekend. It will be the Galaxy's first game since lifting the MLS Cup, and they'll face a Fire team that includes former Mexican national team star Pavel Pardo.

If you're wondering what Uni Más is, it's the new name for the network formerly known as Telefutura. Most games on this channel are not produced on-site by the network, but are retransmitted versions of local broadcasts with Univision graphics and commentary.

Uni Más will not have any Union games, but it will have all three Los Angeles Galaxy-Chivas USA games - and none of them will air nationally on an English-language network. That's a first as far as I can remember.

Univision

Sunday, March 3: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire, 5:00 p.m.

Uni Más

Sunday, March 10: Chivas USA vs. FC Dallas, 5:00 p.m
Sunday, March 17: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 24: Chicago Fire vs. Chivas USA, 5:00 p.m. 

Sunday, April 7: Seattle Sounders vs. Chivas USA, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 14: Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 21: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 28: Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids, 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 5: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chivas USA, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 12: Portland Timbers vs. Chivas USA, 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 19: D.C. United vs. Sporting Kansas City, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 26: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew, 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, June 2: Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 23: Chivas USA vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 11:00 p.m.

Sunday, August 4: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chivas USA, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 11: Chivas USA vs. Colorado Rapids, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 18: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 25: Chivas USA vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 1: Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 8: Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 15: D.C. United vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 22: New York Red Bulls vs. FC Dallas, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 29: Chivas USA vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 11:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 6: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA, 5:00 p.m
Sunday, October 20: Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 27: New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire, 5:00 p.m.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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