Major League Soccer and ABC Sports announced Tuesday that former U.S. women's national team star Brandi Chastain will join the ABC and ESPN broadcast teams for the 2005 season as the sideline reporter, starting with Saturday's coverage of the MLS First Kick between D.C. United and Club Deportivo Chivas USA at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. Chastain will join returning on-air talent JP Dellacamera, Rob Stone and Eric Wynalda for most of the 29 scheduled telecasts on ABC and ESPN, while Heather Mitts, also a U.S. women's national team player, will also serve as the sideline reporter.
Chastain is one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world, having captured FIFA World Cup titles in 1991 and 1999 and an Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Games in Athens. She struck the game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup Final, a moment that was captured on film and portrayed on the covers of Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated magazines.
"I've been in soccer for 31 years as a fan, as a season ticket holder in the old NASL and MLS," Chastain said. "I have been a player at every possible level and it has always been my dream to bring soccer to everybody in this country. I can't wait for the moment I get to hopefully make a wonderful impression to the viewers."
An amazing 16-year women's national team career saw Chastain make 192 appearances, scoring 30 goals. She saw time both as a defender and a striker and was also one of the marquee players in the WUSA women's professional soccer league. A native of San Jose, Calif., Chastain attended Santa Clara University and currently serves as a correspondent for Fox's "NFL Under the Helmet," where she hits the road for features on NFL players.
Mitts, a 26-year-old from Cincinnati, has played in 37 games for the women's national team, including 28 in 2004. She was a member of the 2005 Algarve Cup championship team in Portugal, starting all four matches as a defender. Mitts was an NCAA national champion while at the University of Florida and made her television debut as an in-studio analyst on ABC and ESPN for the 2004 Women's World Cup after being forced to miss the event due to injury. She will fill in for Chastain on five broadcasts during the MLS season.
Dellacamera returns to the booth in 2005 as the play-by-play announcer on all three MLS broadcasts in ABC this season. Dellacamera is entering his fifth season in the MetroStars' television booth, while he also has experience in international soccer, basketball and hockey. His career of nearly 30 years has been highlighted by calling five consecutive FIFA World Cups, including the 2002 event in Japan and South Korea. Dellacamera has also been on air calling UEFA Champions League, EURO '96, the Italian Serie A and the last three Women's World Cups.
Handling play-by-play duties for ESPN broadcasts will be Stone, an ABC/ESPN mainstay since 1998. He will call 26 MLS contests on ESPN2 during the 2005 season, his eighth as a member of the national MLS package after spending the league's first two season on the Tampa Bay Mutiny's regional broadcasts. Stone hosted his seventh MLS Cup last fall and has been the network's play-by-play voice for MLS for the past six seasons. A native of Simsbury, Conn., Stone played collegiate soccer at Colgate University, where he was captain, all-conference and team MVP in his senior season.
Wynalda returns as the lead analyst for ABC and ESPN's MLS coverage after his first year in the booth in 2004. A former U.S. national team star, Wynalda is the all-time leading scorer for the Red, White and Blue with 34 goals in 106 appearances. He played in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998) and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. His club career included stints in the German Bundesliga and in Mexico, as well as with San Jose, New England and Chicago in MLS.
"I think [Saturday's match between D.C. United and Chivas USA] this is a game that has been long anticipated," Wynalda said. "There has been a lot of turmoil and speculation in regards to Chivas USA and what kind of team they will actually field. I'm just as intrigued as the next person. I want to know what kind of product they're going to put out there. They have essentially promised the best to their fans and now it's time to deliver." Major League Soccer's 10th season kicks off this weekend with a full slate of games, all 12 teams beginning their 32-game regular season runs on Saturday.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.