Season-Opening Match: MLS Expansion Franchises Orlando City SC vs. NYC FC on Sunday, March 8
ESPN’s 20th season of Major League Soccer – which kicks off with expansion franchises Orlando City SC vs. NYC FC Sunday, March 8 – will feature a new consistent “MLS Soccer Sunday” match window: Sundays at 5 p.m. ET. Twenty-eight of ESPN’s 34 regular-season matches will air at this time (primarily on ESPN2), marking the most consistent appointment viewing for the league since its debut season in 1996.
ESPN, which reached a new eight-year agreement with MLS last year that extends through 2022, is the league’s lone national television partner through each of its first 20 seasons.
ESPN will provide both English and Spanish-language coverage of the 2015 Major League Soccer season across its media platforms – ESPN2, ESPN, ESPNEWS, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPNFC.com, as well as news, analysis and highlights programming on ESPN FC on TV, SportsCenter and other programs. Television highlights:
- Matches: 34 live regular-season matches
- Commentators: Adrian Healey (pxp), analyst Taylor Twellman and reporter Monica Gonzalez (select matches); ESPN Deportes: Richard Méndez and Giovanni Savarese;
- ESPN FC on TV: will preview MLS matches and feature extensive highlights, news and analysis (weekdays at 6 p.m., ESPNEWS; Sundays at 12 a.m. overnight, ESPN2). Highlights: weekend match previews every Friday beginning March 6; Sunday shows will feature highlights and analysis, segments with Healey and Twellman from the day’s ESPN MLS match of the week, and guest appearances by MLS stars and newsmakers.
- SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship news and information program, will cover key league storylines, interviews with stars, and feature MLS highlights.
2015 MLS Season on ESPNFC.com:
ESPNFC.com, a leading global soccer news and information hub, will offer extensive coverage of Major League Soccer’s 20th season. Primary writers covering the league include Jeff Carlisle, Doug McIntyre, Graham Parker and Jason Davis, along with special contributor David Hirshey. ESPNFC will launch a series of features and other content to kick off the season. Highlights:
- 20 Clubs, 20 Burning Questions – Infographic;
- Conference previews: McIntyre (East), Carlisle (West);
- What You Need to Know about the new MLS clubs, NYC FC and Orlando City SC;
- 20 years of MLS: An oral history of the league and 20 key moments in MLS history;
- Weekly Coverage: Power Rankings (Sundays); What We Learned (Mondays); and midweek features;
- Match Coverage: MLS writers at key games throughout the season; live ESPNFC.com “Boot Room” blog of ESPN games; and post-game “Boot Room Extra” with fan interaction.
ESPN2 Presents Orlando City SC vs. NYC FC Season-Opener:
ESPN will kick off its 2015 Major League Soccer season on Sunday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m., with a 30-minute pre-match show leading into Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC, the highly-anticipated first match for the league’s newest expansion franchises. The match will air on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, as well as WatchESPN, from Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.
Healey and Twellman will call the match for ESPN2, while Mendez and Savarese will commentate for ESPN Deportes. Multilingual reporter Gonzalez will report for both ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Additionally, commentator Roberto Abramowitz will be in Orlando for news and information coverage leading up to and after the match.
The match features two FIFA World Cup champions – Orlando City SC’s Kaká (2002 with Brazil) and New York City FC’s David Villa (Spain in 2010). Pre-match highlights:
- Interviews with Orlando’s Kaka, 2007 FIFA World Footballer of the Year and 2002 World Cup winner, U.S. Men’s National Team player Mix Diskerud (NYC FC), and more;
- “Talking Points with Taylor Twellman” – commentary and analysis from ESPN’s lead soccer analyst;
- ESPN FC on TV will preview the match on Friday, March 6, at 6 p.m. (ESPNEWS), with Twellman from Orlando, and offer extensive post-game analysis from him Sunday at 12 a.m. overnight (ESPN2). Healey will also have “person-in-the-street” interviews with Orlando City SC fans ahead of their team’s first MLS match;
- Sunday morning SportsCenter (ESPN, 9 a.m.) will include a preview of the Kaká vs. David Villa matchup;
- ESPNFC.com will have reporters Carlisle (LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire) and McIntyre (Orlando City SC vs. NYC FC) at season-opening weekend matches.
- Additional content around the season-opener: Fernando Duarte profiles Kaka; Parker profiles NYC FC’s Jason Kreis after interviewing the coach in Manchester City during the team’s pre-season trip to their affiliate club in England; David Hirshey on how NYC FC is evolving the relationship with its fans.
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