MLS announces 2017 schedules and a first time break for Gold Cup play

By Paul Nicholson

January 13 – Major League Soccer has unveiled its 2017 regular season which for the first time will take a break during the CONCACAF Gold Cup group stages July 7-17, a significant move by the league to give the region’s premier international competition a clear window of media profile in the US.

The 2017 MLS season will see the league expanded to 22 teams with the addition of expansion clubs Atlanta United and Minnesota United.

Playing in two conferences of 11 teams, the regular season will have 34 matches with each team playing home and away against conference rivals and one match against each of the teams in the other conference. The extra three games will be made up of local rivalries.

The all-important TV schedule will see ESPN broadcast 31 matches while FOX, now in its third season of MLS broadcast, will carry four with a further 29 matches on FS1.

Univision Deportes will showcase MLS in a new Saturday night window alongside Liga MX action from Mexico. At least six MLS matches will air on Univision network, with 20 on UniMas with most matches simulcast on Univision Deportes Network.

In Canada, which has three teams playing in the MLS, broadcaster TSN will air a record number of matches, including a game of the week on Saturday nights during the season and Friday night matches from March 31 to June 2. TVA Sports in Canada will air more than 50 MLS matches.

Most popular teams for broadcasters are the Seattle Sounders, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York City FC and new Atlanta United FC who will each feature six regular-season appearances each on ESPN networks. On Fox the Portland Timbers feature eight times, while the LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, and New York City FC will feature six times.

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