ESPN networks will combine to televise eight MLS is Back Tournament knockout round matches from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex beginning Saturday, July 25, with a Round of 16 doubleheader in primetime – Orlando City SC vs. Montreal Impact (8 p.m. ET) and Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution (10:30 p.m.) on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise three additional MLS is Back Tournament group stage matches in English on Monday and Tuesday
Lead MLS Announcers John Strong and Stu Holden Call All Matches
LOS ANGELES – FOX Sports celebrates the return of American men’s soccer with the MLS is Back Tournament from July 11-August 5 across FOX and FS1. The network’s 16-match presentation features two of the nation’s leading soccer voices – John Strong and Stu Holden. Rob Stone hosts studio coverage each matchday alongside Alexi Lalas, with Maurice Edu and Holden joining throughout the tournament.
FOX Sports gives viewers the opportunity to watch matches with or without enhanced audio throughout the tournament. FOX and FS1 present the only English-language telecasts with crowd noise audio, produced from the network’s Los Angeles studios. On digital devices, including the FOX Sports app, viewers can choose from dedicated streams with or without added crowd noise.
FOX’s coverage opens Group E play Saturday, July 11 at 8:00 PM ET as Atlanta United face the New York Red Bulls. The action continues at 10:30 PM ET on FS1 with the “Hell is Real” derby between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew.
The network’s group stage slate features past MLS Cup champions and historic rivalries. The lineup includes two appearances each by Columbus Crew SC, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy along with matches featuring Atlanta United, Chicago Fire FC, D.C. United, FC Cincinnati, LAFC, New England Revolution, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Strong and Holden are on the call for all tournament matches. The full tournament schedule can be found here.
The matches can be live streamed via FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app on iOS and Android as well as connected devices, including Apple TV, Android TV, FireTV, Roku, Chromecast and Xbox One.
Last night’s MLS is Back Tournament opening match – a 2-1 Orlando City SC victory over in-state rival Inter Miami CF – averaged 492,000 viewers on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen. This is the second most-viewed MLS regular-season telecast (over 64 matches) on ESPN networks since March 11, 2018, when 583,000 people (2+) tuned in for DC United vs. Atlanta United; behind 663,000 combined viewers for the 2020 season-opening LAFC-Inter Miami CF match on March 1.
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will combine to televise 28 of the 54 total matches of the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida beginning Wednesday, July 8, through Tuesday, Aug. 11. In addition, ESPN Production will serve as the MLS is Back Tournament host broadcaster.
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OX Sports kicks off its MLS is Back Tournament slate on Friday July 11 at 8:00 PM ET with Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls on FOX and FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew SC at 10:30 PM ET on FS1. Among the nine group stage matchups are past MLS Cup champions, historic rivalries and recent additions to the league. The lineup features two appearances each by Columbus Crew SC, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy along with matches featuring Atlanta United, Chicago Fire FC, D.C. United, FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami CF, LAFC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers.
FOX Sports’ coverage of the all-new tournament includes nine group stage matchups, four knockout stage matches, two quarterfinals and a semifinal.
Full schedule can be found below.
ESPN will host SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports on Monday, June 15, as the commissioners from six of the top American professional team sports leagues discuss the return to competition in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Get Up’s Mike Greenberg will host the two-hour primetime special with Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA), Don Garber (MLS), Roger Goodell (NFL), Rob Manfred (MLB) and Adam Silver (NBA) expected to participate in conversations.
ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will combine to present more than 14 original hours of classic Major League Soccer matches for MLS Heineken Rivalry Week beginning tonight through Saturday. At 9 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes will spotlight the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal between ‘El Trafico’ rivals LAFC and LA Galaxy. The high-scoring 5-3 LAFC victory – the most-watched MLS match ever on ESPN Deportes – was the final matchup between star players Carlos Vela (LAFC) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy).
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ESPN2 will celebrate 25 years of Major League Soccer with an eight-hour programming marathon featuring four classic matches on Monday, April 6 – the anniversary of Major League Soccer’s inaugural match – San Jose Clash vs. DC United, which aired on ESPN in 1996. ESPN2’s programming marathon will anchor MLS-themed content across multiple ESPN platforms, including on-demand streaming of a collection of historic matches on ESPN+, a special edition of Banter with Taylor Twellman digital show, and two classic matches on ESPN Deportes.
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The late game in ESPN’s week 1 MLS doubleheader – LAFC’s 1-0 victory over Inter Miami CF, the debut match for David Beckham’s new MLS franchise – averaged 653,000 viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The combined English and Spanish-language audience was up 44 percent compared to 2019’s opening week late game (453,000 viewers, LAFC vs. Sporting Kansas City). LAFC-Inter Miami FC is the most-viewed MLS opening match on the ESPN networks since 2011 (683,000 viewers, Seattle vs. LA Galaxy). ESPN averaged 463,000 viewers, while ESPN Deportes delivered its most-viewed regular season MLS match with 189,000 viewers.