Sounders Insider

2015 schedule out: Timbers visit twice, Sounders go to Yankee Stadium

SoundersSked15Here's the news from the club:

Major League Soccer today announced its 2015 regular season schedule, a campaign that sees each of its 20 clubs play 34 matches beginning on March 6 and concluding on October 25. Seattle Sounders FC has 12 contests slated for a national television audience across MLS' family of networks: ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision, beginning with the Rave Green's season-opener against defending Eastern Conference champion New England Revolution on March 8 at CenturyLink Field (FOX Sports / 6:30 p.m. PST). Three of Seattle's six Cascadia Cup matches against Portland and Vancouver are set to be played at CenturyLink Field, with all three Timbers fixtures airing on national television. Sounders FC faces Western Conference rival LA Galaxy twice on the road in 2015, but will host the final meeting between the two clubs on October 4 in Seattle. Sounders FC's final six matches of 2015 are against Western Conference opponents, culminating with a pivotal season-ending home clash against Real Salt Lake on Sunday, October 25. Other 2015 season highlights include a May 23 showdown at CenturyLink Field against 2013 MLS Cup champion - and new Western Conference addition - Sporting Kansas City, along with a visit from expansion side Orlando City on August 16.

All non-nationally televised Sounders FC home kickoff times are being announced at a later date, along with the club's 2015 regional broadcast partner details. Of Sounders FC's 12 nationally televised broadcasts, six are slated to appear on one of FOX Sports' platforms, five on ESPN or ESPN2 and one on Univision. Non-national TV MLS matches are being played on Saturdays, with intermittent mid-week matches, and will be broadcast locally and/or via a subscription to a digital out-of-market package. 2015 Sounders FC season ticket packages are currently available via the following link: http://sndrs.com/8g3n, or by calling 877-MLS-GOAL. Single-match tickets, partial season ticket plans and group package details will be made available in the weeks ahead. Complete information can be found via SoundersFC.com/Tickets. The 2015 campaign, the first of an eight-year television and media rights partnership with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision, showcases new, consistent national television schedules, expanded live game streaming and innovative season-ending schedule enhancements - giving fans more opportunities than ever to engage with MLS content. MLS' new national television schedule features a Univision game of the week on Friday nights and an ESPN and FOX Sports double-header nearly every Sunday all season long. Univision's games - primarily on UniMás - are available in Spanish and English both on television and live streamed on the Univision Deportes app. Sunday's doubleheaders on ESPN and FOX Sports networks showcase back-to-back MLS matches at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. ET, respectively. Both ESPN and FOX Sports are simulcasting their games on their Spanish-language networks (ESPN Deportes, FOX Deportes) and their authenticated digital offerings (Watch ESPN, FOX Sports GO). Newly created schedule enhancements ensure that fans have access to the league's most meaningful games during the season's climax. MLS and its broadcast partners have introduced flex scheduling for the second-to-last weekend of the regular season which will allow Univision, ESPN and FOX Sports to decide to telecast late in the season the matches that matter most to fans. In addition to the flex scheduling option in week 33 of the season, the last day of the 2015 regular season will see MLS unveil a new, exciting scheduling format - dubbed "Decision Day" - which is one final flurry of action to settle the standings and determine who is in, and who is out, of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Games across each conference are being played simultaneously, with the most meaningful playoff-race games broadcast nationally. Five games in the Eastern Conference will be played concurrently on Sunday, October 25 at 5:00 p.m. ET, with one match airing on FOX Sports 1 and one match on UniMás. Immediately following, all five Western Conference matches are being played at 7:00 p.m. ET, with one game airing on ESPN2 and one game on UniMás. All other games are being showcased across network and league digital platforms to ensure fans do not miss a minute of the action. This year, 12 teams can qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, as the sixth-place team in both conferences has a chance to vie for a trip to MLS Cup 2015, and for the first time ever, every minute of the playoffs is being telecast live on national TV. The Knockout Rounds now consist of four single-elimination matches taking place on Wednesday, October 28 and Thursday, October 29. The Conference Semifinals are scheduled over two consecutive weekends, October 31-November 1 and November 7-8. Following a FIFA break from November 9-17, the Conference Championship matches begin on November 21 and 22, with the second legs slated for November 28 and 29. The Conference Semifinals and Conference Championship matches will again be two-game aggregate goal series. Of the two clubs that reach MLS Cup, the team with the better regular season record will host the championship game, on December 5-6 or December 12-13. Full postseason schedule details will be announced at a later date.

Here's the release from the league:

The 2015 season, the first of an eight-year television and media rights partnership with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, will showcase new, consistent national television schedules, expanded live game streaming and innovative season-ending schedule enhancements – giving fans more opportunities than ever to engage with MLS content.

MLS’ new national television schedule will feature a Univision Deportes game of the week on Friday nights and an FOX Sports 1 and ESPN doubleheader nearly every Sunday all season long. Univision Deportes’ games will air primarily on UniMás and will be available in Spanish and English both on television and live streamed on the Univision Deportes app. Sunday’s doubleheaders on ESPN and FOX Sports 1 networks will showcase back-to-back MLS matches at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET, respectively. Both FOX Sports 1 and ESPN will simulcast their games on their Spanish-language networks (ESPN Deportes, FOX Deportes) and their authenticated digital offerings (WatchESPN, FOX Sports GO). FOX Sports 1 weekly primetime game marks its return to MLS after previously broadcasting the league’s games from 2003 to 2011.

Univision Deportes’ first MLS game of the week will open the season as the record-setting, five-time MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy host the Chicago Fire on Friday, March 6 live on UniMás at 10 p.m. ET. Following a full slate of six games on Saturday, fans will be treated to an action packed six-and-a-half hour block of MLS programming on Sunday, March 8. First up, MLS’ two new expansion clubs will go head-to-head when Orlando City SC welcomes New York City FC (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET). Fox Sports 1 will broadcast a star-studded doubleheader featuring 2013 MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City vs. the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park (7 p.m. ET) and the 2014 Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winners Seattle Sounders FC take on MLS Cup runners-up New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field (9:30 p.m. ET).

League rivalries – old and new – will be on display twice in 2015 as part of Heineken presents MLS Rivalry Week on June 26–28 and Aug. 28–30. The first installment of Rivalry Week will include the Texas Derby between FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo, kicking off on Friday, June 26 (UniMás, 9 p.m. ET). The first-ever clash at Yankee Stadium between New York clubs New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls will take place on Sunday, June 28 (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET), while Cascadia Cup foes Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers meet at Providence Park (FOX Sports 1, 7 p.m. ET). The second Rivalry Week will feature historic matchups, including LA Galaxy at the San Jose Earthquakes in the new Avaya Stadium (UniMás, 11 p.m. ET), Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET) and D.C. United visiting the New York Red Bulls for the Atlantic Cup (FOX Sports 1, 7 p.m. ET).

Newly created schedule enhancements will ensure fans have access to the league’s most meaningful games during the season’s climax. MLS and its broadcast partners have introduced flex scheduling for the second-to-last weekend of the regular season which will allow FOX Sports 1, ESPN and Univision Deportes to decide to telecast the matches that matter most to fans late in the season.

The last day of the 2015 regular season will see MLS unveil a new, exciting scheduling format – dubbed “Decision Day” – which will be one final flurry of action to settle the standings and determine who is in, and who is out, of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Games across each conference will be played simultaneously with the most meaningful playoff-race games broadcast nationally. Five games in the Eastern Conference will be played concurrently on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. ET with one game airing on FOX Sports 1 and one game airing on UniMás. Immediately following, all five Western Conference matches will be played at 7 p.m. ET, with one game airing on ESPN2 and one game on Univision Deportes Networks. All other games will be showcased across network and league digital platforms to ensure fans do not miss a minute of the action.

This year, 12 teams will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs as the sixth place team in both conferences will now have a chance to vie for a chance at making the arduous trip to MLS Cup 2015, and for the first time ever, every minute of the playoffs will be telecast live on national TV. The Knockout Rounds will now consist of four single-elimination matches taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 28 and Thursday, Oct. 29.

The Conference Semifinals will take place over two consecutive weekends, Oct. 31–Nov. 1 and Nov. 7–8. Following a FIFA break from Nov. 9–17, the Conference Championship matches will begin on Nov. 21-22 and close out Nov. 28–29. The Conference Semifinals and Conference Championship matches will again be a two-game aggregate goal series with away goals serving as the tiebreaker. Of the two clubs that reach MLS Cup, the team with the better regular season record will host the championship game, on Dec. 5–6 or Dec. 12–13. Full playoff schedule details will be announced at a later date.

Non-national TV games will be played on Saturdays, with intermittent mid-week matches, and will be broadcast locally and/or via a subscription to a digital out-of-market package.

Other notable highlights for the 2015 season:

· Conference realignment: With the addition of Orlando City SC and New York City FC in 2015 to the East, the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City will move to the Western Conference, creating two 10-team conferences.

· Game breakdown: MLS’ 20 teams will each play 34 games during the regular season for a total of 340 matches.

o Clubs will play each team in the opposing conference once for five home and five away matches; each of their nine conference opponents at least twice (one home, one away); and six additional intra-conference games -- three home and three away versus different opponents.

· New Soccer-Specific Stadium Debuts: The San Jose Earthquakes will play the first game in their new home, Avaya Stadium, on Sunday, March 22 against the Chicago Fire (FOX Sports 1 at 7 p.m. ET).

· MLS Cup Replay: In a rematch of the 2014 MLS Cup final, the New England Revolution will welcome Robbie Keane and the LA Galaxy to Gillette Stadium on Sunday, May 31 (FOX Sports 1, 7 p.m.).

· TV in Canada: Nationally in Canada, at least 30 games featuring Canadian clubs will air on TSN networks in English and RDS networks in French. The TSN and RDS schedules will be announced in the coming weeks.

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