ABC Sports and ESPN2, in conjunction with Major League Soccer, today announced that U.S. Women's National Team legend Brandi Chastain will join the 2005 broadcast team for RadioShack MLS Soccer Saturday matches on the ABC and ESPN networks. Chastain, one of the most renowned female athletes in the world, will be the sideline reporter for Game of the Week broadcasts beginning on Saturday, April 2 when Chivas USA hosts D.C. United in the kick-off of the League's 10th season live on ABC Sports (3:00 p.m. ET).
The 36-year-old former defender and 2004 Olympic gold medalist will man the sidelines in all but five of the 29 MLS broadcasts on ABC and ESPN2. Her former teammate on the U.S. Women's National Team, 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Heather Mitts, will be the sideline reporter on those five dates.
"MLS is very excited that Brandi Chastain will be added to our League's national broadcasts," said Michael Cohen, Executive Producer and Head of Production for MLS and Soccer United Marketing. "Brandi is a very important figure in our country's soccer history and her knowledge of MLS and her popularity with viewers will enhance each of the game telecasts."
Calling the game action on Saturday in the much anticipated battle between the new expansion club (Chivas USA) and the MLS Cup champions (D.C. United) are television soccer veterans JP Dellacamera, who will handle play-by-play duties for each of the three MLS contests on ABC this season, and analyst Eric Wynalda, who returns for his second year in the booth after beginning his broadcast career as a field analyst on ABC and ESPN2 in 2003. Long-time MLS announcer Rob Stone, an ABC/ESPN mainstay since 1998, will handle the play-by-play role for the League's 26 ESPN2 games.
The 2005 season will be marked by several production enhancements beginning with the match on April 2:
SkyCam: April 2 will mark the first time that SkyCam will be used in an MLS match. Fans will enjoy an aerial view of the field, giving the viewer a unique angle to appreciate the development and speed of match action.
Side-by-Side: This incorporates a split screen of game action and commercials that allows for the insertion of ad inventory during the networks' continuous coverage of each match. Side-by-Side will be inserted twice during each 45-minute half and in 30-second intervals. This will allow for extra treatment of key news, personalities and highlights during halftime.
Stro-Motion: The first time this technology will be used in a regular season MLS game is April 2. This replay device displays still images at different points in a ball's or player's trajectory.
MLS Wired: For the first time during the regular season, matches will feature expanded use of the unobtrusive microphones, worn by coaches, to capture some of the in-game interactions between the coach and his team. First used during MLS Cup 2004, in-game audio from the coaches will be taped and aired during the broadcast.
Super Slo-Mo: This special camera and replay device will provide slow motion replays from unique and varied angles during game action.
Youth Soccer Spotlight: In 2005 the Youth Soccer Spotlight will highlight youth teams in the stadium on gameday.
In addition to the above, Saturday's Chivas USA vs. D.C. United broadcast will feature the following production elements:
17 total cameras
camera from the Goodyear blimp
14 digital replay channels covering all angles of the game
71 television crew members
ABC and the ESPN networks have combined to televise the 1982, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups and the 1995, 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups. All nine MLS seasons, including every MLS Cup Championship match, have been televised on ABC and the ESPN networks. The comprehensive soccer coverage aired by the combined networks - ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports - includes the Men's and Women's World Cup, Major League Soccer, U.S. National Team matches and the NCAA Men's and Women's soccer championships. ESPN debuted in Sept. 7, 1979, and now reaches 88.9 million homes. ESPN2, launched Oct. 1, 1993, can be seen in 87.2 million television households.
ON-AIR TALENTJP Dellacamera - ABC Sports Play-by-Play - Prominent soccer voice JP Dellacamera returns as the lead commentator for Major League Soccer's trio of ABC broadcasts. Now entering his fifth season in the MetroStars' television booth, and bringing significant experience working soccer, basketball, and hockey telecasts over a highly-respected career that has spanned 30 years, Dellacamera called his fifth consecutive men's World Cup in 2002 for ESPN. Dellacamera's storied soccer history with the ABC/ESPN networks includes MLS games in addition to the UEFA Champions League, EURO '96, Italian Serie A and the last three Women's World Cups. In addition, JP worked for three seasons as the TV voice of the Columbus Crew.
Rob Stone - ESPN2 Play-by-Play - Stone returns for his eighth season as a member of the national MLS package, after spending the League's first two seasons on the Tampa Bay Mutiny's regional broadcasts. Well-known for his various roles on ABC/ESPN's soccer coverage since 1998, Stone hosted his seventh MLS Cup last fall and served as the host of World Cup Tonight during the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, following a stint as the network's lead reporter at World Cup France '98. The former studio host of MLS ExtraTime, Stone has handled play-by-play and sideline reporting on many nationally-televised MLS broadcasts during the last six years, in addition to his work on ABC and ESPN college football broadcasts. A native of Simsbury, Conn., Stone played collegiate soccer at Colgate University, where he was captain, all-conference and team MVP as a senior.
Eric Wynalda - Lead Analyst, ABC / ESPN2 - The first man to hit the back of the net in MLS history, Eric Wynalda enters his third full season in broadcasting, following a breakthrough 2004 season as color analyst on ABC/ESPN2. A veteran of three World Cups ('90, '94, '98), the former striker was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in October 2004 and holds the all-time scoring record in U.S. National Team history with 34 goals in 106 appearances. The Honda/Futbol de Primera Player of the Decade for the '90's, Wynalda was the youngest player to ever appear for the U.S. in the World Cup when he took the field in Italy in 1990, at the age of 21. Following an international club career which saw him play professionally in the German Bundesliga and in Mexico, Wynalda returned to the U.S. and joined the San Jose Clash in MLS' inaugural season, and went on to play for the Miami Fusion, New England Revolution and Chicago Fire, scoring 34 goals and registering 37 assists in 98 career games. Wynalda's weekly column will continue to be featured on the League's official web site, www.MLSnet.com, with the incisive analysis and commentary that has earned him a nationwide following.
Brandi Chastain - One of the most renowned female athletes in the world, Chastain is one of the most accomplished women's soccer players in history. The 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and two-time FIFA World Cup champion ('91, '99) provided one of the greatest moments in the history of women's sports with her 1999 Women's World Cup-clinching penalty kick on July 10, 1999 which was featured on the cover of Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated. During her storied 16-year Women's National Team career in which she played at forward and defender, she registered 192 caps and 30 goals. Chastain was also one of the WUSA's founding players, leading the club to the inaugural WUSA championship in 2001. The native of San Jose, California was one of the hosts of the 2001 All-Star Skills Challenge held on the eve of the 2001 MLS All-Star Game in San Jose and televised on ESPN2. She is currently a correspondent for Fox's "NFL Under the Helmet" where she hits the road for features on NFL players. The graduate of Santa Clara University (Television and Communications) is married to the current Santa Clara head women's soccer coach, Jerry Smith.
Heather Mitts - The 26-year-old native of Cincinnati, Ohio has played in a total of 37 career matches for the U.S. Women's National Team including a career high 28 games in 2004. She recently made all four starts at defender as the U.S. captured the 2005 Algarve Cup. An NCAA champion with the University of Florida in 1998, Mitts made her network television debut as an in-studio analyst on ABC and ESPN for the 2003 Women's World Cup after missing the tournament due to injury. The two-time WUSA All-Star has also co-hosted "The Tailgate Show", which aired before and after Philadelphia Eagles games, and she can now be spotted as a sports reporter and anchor on the NBC affiliate WCAU in Philadelphia.
BEHIND THE SCENES Michael Cohen - The Executive Producer and Head of Production for all MLS/SUM television production and programming, including nationally-televised MLS and World Cup telecasts on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, Cohen works with League executives on negotiations of media contracts and development of innovative revenue-generating programming opportunities for the League. As the lead producer for ABC, ESPN and ESPN2's coverage of Major League Soccer since the League's Inaugural Game in 1996, Cohen has produced more than 200 regular season and MLS Cup playoff games on a national basis. Cohen, a winner of multiple Emmy awards, has also produced seven MLS All-Star games and was the producer for MLS Cups '96, '97, '98, '99, the senior producer for MLS Cups 2000 and 2001, and the executive producer in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Mitch Green - The veteran Emmy award-winning producer begins his fourth campaign as the Producer for all national broadcasts on ABC and ESPN2 during the 2005 season. Prior to the last three seasons of extensive MLS and World Cup slates, Green produced feature pieces for ABC Sports' telecasts of U.S. National Team games in preparation for and during World Cups 1994 and 1998. He also produced the game telecasts of U.S. National Team friendlies and World Cup qualifiers from 1996 through ABC/ESPN's coverage of World Cup '98, repeating the cycle of qualifiers for World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan.