Major League Soccer and the ABC/ESPN networks announced Thursday the national television coverage schedule for the 2005 MLS season, the 10th in league history. Twenty-three regular season games will be shown on ESPN2, while ABC will provide coverage of the First Kick on April 2 (D.C. United at Club Deportivo Chivas USA, 3 p.m. ET), MLS Cup on Nov. 13 (3:30 p.m. ET) and the MLS All-Star Game on July 30. ESPN2 will also screen an addition three MLS Cup playoff matches.
Each MLS team will have at least two games televised on ESPN2 during the regular season. Reigning MLS Cup champions D.C. United lead all teams with eight scheduled appearances on the ESPN networks, while Chivas USA will appear seven times. Six MLS teams, including expansion side Real Salt Lake, will be featured four times (San Jose, Los Angeles, MetroStars, Columbus, Chicago, Salt Lake City), while the Kansas City Wizards, runner-up in the 2004 season, will appear three times. The Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution and FC Dallas will each appear twice.
The first-ever installment of the highly anticipated local rivalry between Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy will be available to a national audience live from The Home Depot Center on April 23 (10 p.m. ET). Rocky Mountain regional rivals Real Salt Lake and the Rapids will square off on ESPN2 on April 16 from Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City at 3 p.m. ET. That match will be one of four battles to be part of a cup competition between the two sides. Additionally, MLS Cup 2004 participants D.C. United and the Kansas City Wizards will have two of their four regular season rematches live on ESPN2.
HDNet, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol will also provide national television coverage of the 2005 MLS season. Those schedules are expected to be released in the coming weeks, along with regional coverage plans and the MLS Direct Kick season package available from cable and satellite providers.
Major League Soccer's 10th season begins on April 2 with a full slate of games. In addition to D.C. United's visit to Chivas USA for First Kick televised on ABC, the remaining 10 teams will also open their campaigns that evening.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.