For some fans, an eye-catching detail of the MLS is Back tournament has been the daily 9 am ET kickoff slot.
A domestic start time that early is seldom seen outside of youth soccer or Sunday league adult games, though it's very common for stateside fans watching European soccer with the time zone difference.
From a viewership standpoint, that 9 am ET start time could expose the league to more fans on the other side of the Atlantic, with a 2 pm local kick in the United Kingdom and Portugal, 3 pm in Germany, France, Spain and Italy, 4 pm in Greece and Eastern Europe and 9 pm in Beijing. However, MLS comissioner Don Garber that didn't infleunce the scheduling process.
“It wasn’t our intent when we scheduled at nine," Garber said on a video conference call. "It was very focused on the weather and what we thought would be was the appropriate time to start, then take a large break during the hottest part of the day and get back in the evening.”
That kickoff slot means matches will start in much more bearable temperatures than the mid-day Orlando summer heat. It also helps steer clear of the stormiest part of the day as well, which is traditionally in the late afternoon.
The other match slots throughout the tournament will be 8 pm and 10:30 pm ET. The tournament will run from July 8 to August 11.
"The game times are a function of weather," Garber said. "Nine o'clock in the morning is actually a time one of our broadcast partners are very excited about, they're looking to have programming. As you know, there are other soccer leagues that broadcast at that time, albeit they play them at a different time of the day. It's a time we think we can manage the weather and clearly those times later in the evenings can be outside of the warmest time of the day."