Fire land four spots on ESPN2 national broadcast schedule
CHICAGO - Major League Soccer, together with the ABC and ESPN Networks, today unveiled the 2005 national television schedule for the League's 10th Season. The networks will combine to air 29 games live nationally beginning with the ABC broadcast of the League's first game of the year on April 2. ESPN2 will air 26 live regular season games in addition to three MLS Cup Playoff games in 2005, while ABC will also broadcast the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game in July as well as MLS Cup 2005 on Sunday, November 13.
The Chicago Fire will be featured on four national broadcasts on the ABC family of networks - all on ESPN2 - during the 2005 season. The Fire's first match-up on ESPN2 will pit the "Men in Red" against their former coach Bob Bradley, newly signed French 1998 World Cup champion Youri Djorkaeff and the rest of the MetroStars during a rare Friday primetime appearance on Apr. 22 at 7:00 p.m. CT. Beginning in June, three of the Fire's next nine contests will be shown on ESPN2, including the club's first-ever meeting with Club Deportivo Chivas USA on June 4 at Soldier Field at 3:00 p.m. CT. The Fire will play host at Soldier Field to the ESPN2 cameras and Eastern Conference foes new and old for its two remaining national broadcasts when it welcomes the Kansas City Wizards and Columbus Crew on June 18 and July 16 respectively at 3:00 p.m. CT.
In addition to its national broadcast dates, the Fire has also announced start times for 31 of the 32 games on its 2005 MLS regular season schedule. Nine of the Fire's 16 home dates will kick-off at 7:30 p.m. CT, with seven of those games falling on Saturday nights. Each of the Fire's three Sunday home matches (June 12 vs. FC Dallas, June 26 vs. Real Salt Lake and Aug. 28 vs. MetroStars) will kick-off from Soldier Field at 6:00 p.m. CT, while its two Wednesday dates (May 25 vs. New England and Aug. 10 vs. Kansas City) will begin at 7:30 p.m. CT. The only date without a kickoff time is the Fire's home contest against defending MLS Cup champions D.C. United on Saturday, Sep. 24. The Fire will begin its 2005 slate on the road on Apr. 2 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX against FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. CT.
ABC enters its 10th season of MLS broadcasts with the live telecast of First Kick 2005 featuring D.C. United visiting expansion team Chivas USA, which will be making its MLS debut at The Home Depot Center on Saturday, April 2 at 2:00 p.m. CT. ABC Sports will once again televise both the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on July 30 (2:30 p.m. CT) and MLS Cup 2005 on November 13 from the Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Center, home of FC Dallas (2:30 p.m. CT). The location of the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game is yet to be announced.
Coverage on ESPN2 begins on April 9 when Chivas USA visits the San Jose Earthquakes live from Spartan Stadium (3:00 p.m. CT). Of the 26 games schedule to be televised on ESPN2, five games will air during a "primetime" window, including two each on Friday and Saturday nights and one on Thursday evening. Primetime coverage begins with back-to-back Friday games in April, featuring D.C. United at Columbus on Apr. 15 and the afore-mentioned Fire-MetroStars clash on Apr. 22. ESPN2 will also carry an MLS Cup Playoff game on two consecutive weekends in October in addition to a Conference Championship game on November 6.
The HDNet, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español national television schedules, the Fire's regional television schedule, and the MLS Direct Kick season package on cable and satellite will be announced in the near future.