October 5 – US broadcast giant ESPN are set to carry a record amount of coverage this weekend for the final round of the regular MLS season.
‘MLS Decision Day’ will see all 12 inter-conference matches kick off simultaneously at 4pm eastern time with ESPN’s main channel broadcasting the Portland Timbers vs San Jose Earthquakes. The winner of that game will secure a place in the MLS play-offs. The other 11 matches will be streamed on ESPN+.
The increased commitment to football (soccer) by ESPN follows on from a deal announced earlier this week that will see Germany’s Bundesliga switch from Fox to ESPN from August 2020. That agreement will see the bulk of the Bundesliga’s 300-plus matches broadcast on ESPN+, with selected games – four per season – airing on ESPN’s linear channels.
The increase in ESPN coverage is important for the MLS and US soccer generally which does not want to see its main broadcast channels become a home for big European leagues only, effectively marginalising the growth of the US professional game.
MLS Decision Day coverage will also be carried on Spanish language channel ESPN Deportes.
The final round of the MLS still has a lot to play for in terms of qualification for the MLS Cup Play-offs.
Four teams in the Western Conference are competing for two play off slots – Portland Timbers (46 points), FC Dallas (45), San Jose Earthquakes (44) and Colorado Rapids (42). The winner of Seattle Sounders FC (53 points) vs. Minnesota FC (53) will secure the second spot in the Western Conference.
In the Eastern Conference, three teams – D.C. United (4th place / 49 points), New York Red Bulls (5th / 48) and Toronto FC (6th / 47) – are playing for the final spot available to host a playoff game.
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