New Teams and New Stadiums Highlight 2017 MLS Regular Season Schedule
FRISCO, TEXAS (Thursday, Jan. 12) – Major League Soccer today unveiled the 2017 regular season schedule for all 22 clubs, including broadcast coverage across the five national broadcast partners in the U.S. and Canada.
Following a record year for attendance and overall viewership, the 2017 broadcast schedule expands on the successes of 2016, capitalizing on strategic placement for MLS matches in order to bring league action to the broadest audiences ever while also creating a competitively balanced schedule for all 22 teams. Highlighted by two new teams and two new soccer stadiums, this season will see the most regular season MLS matches in league history.
MLS to take a break during CONCACAF Gold Cup Group Stage
Just as MLS has done for the World Cup since 2010 and the 2016 Copa America Centenario, the 2017 schedule will include a break for the CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage for the first time. Group stage matches for the CONCACAF Gold Cup will be played from July 7 through July 17.
MLS Heineken Rivalry Weeks to serve up more established rivalry action than ever before
Two MLS Heineken Rivalry Weeks will set can’t-miss dates on the calendar with the first edition in June and the second in August. The first edition of Heineken Rivalry Week, June 23-25, will consist of three consecutive days of rivalry games across the League’s national TV partners’ channels.
The second Heineken Rivalry Week, August 23-27, will see two Cascadia Cup matches contested with Seattle facing both Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers. The same week will see five additional rivalry matches, including Montreal Impact hosting Toronto FC for the first time since the heated 2016 Eastern Conference Championship.
In addition to the two MLS Heineken Rivalry Weeks, 2017 will see the return of the one-game MLS Heineken Rivalry Week Edición Especial on July 1, featuring the California Clasico, San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy, broadcast live, over-the-air in Spanish on Univision (10 p.m. ET). The match will again be played at Stanford Stadium, a venue that has seen the rivalry match played in front of sellout crowds of more than 50,000 fans the past five seasons.
Record-breaking match days scheduled for the Final Push to the Playoffs and Decision Day
The Final Push to the Playoffs, the final two weekends of the regular season, will see more MLS matches played on those single dates than ever before. Comprised of predominantly intra-conference matches played on October 15 and Decision Day, October 22, the final two game dates will again usher in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in dramatic fashion. All Eastern Conference matches will kick off at 3 p.m. ET, while the Western Conference matchups will all kick off at 5 p.m. on the penultimate weekend. Decision Day will see all 11 MLS matches played simultaneously as the postseason landscape takes shape through the final 90 minutes of the regular season.
With an odd number of teams in each conference (11 teams each), both weeks will feature one inter-conference matchup.
The final two weeks of the regular season will again feature flex scheduling, allowing broadcast partners to bring the most compelling games to national audiences as the dust settles over the playoff landscape.
ESPN regular season schedule to include 2017 expansion club matchups; MVP vs. MVP; and key rivalry games
MLS coverage in 2017 on ESPN, a broadcast partner of MLS since the league’s inception, will again see games air predominantly on ESPN’s premier network, with 28 games on ESPN and three on ESPN2. All matches will be simulcast on ESPN Deportes and streamed live on both WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes+.
- ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will carry the only two matches between the league’s new expansion teams – Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United (March 12 at 5 p.m. ET and August 13 at 6 p.m.ET)
- The Toronto FC vs. New York City FC match on July 30 features a rematch of 2016 MLS Eastern Conference semifinals and a matchup between the last two league MVPs – Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco (2015) and New York City’s David Villa (2016)
- ESPN will also continue its cross-platform coverage of the League via ESPN FC, ESPNFC.com and The Heineken Boot Room.
- ESPN’s coverage will culminate with the pinnacle of the MLS season: 2017 MLS Cup (date and time to be announced).
FOX schedule includes premier placement on network television for four MLS matches
After making its FOX broadcast network debut in 2016, MLS action will return to the over-the-air English-language network four times this season, with the network carrying some of the season’s biggest matches. Additionally, 29 games will air on FS1, bringing marquee MLS moments to fans all season long.
- FOX network television events will feature premier games and MLS rivalries:
- Orlando City SC vs. LA Galaxy (Saturday, April 15)
- Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers – a rivalry that dates back to 1975 (Saturday, May 27)
- New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC match during Heineken Rivalry Week (Saturday, June 24)
- Atlanta United vs. Orlando City SC – the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Sunday, July 30)
- FS1 and FOX Deportes will kick off the season by showcasing the debuts of both Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC in Week One.
- FS1 will air the 2017 MLS All-Star Game; further details to be announced in the coming weeks.
Univision Deportes to showcase MLS on Univision network; UniMás games move to Saturday
Back for an 11th consecutive season, and 15th overall, Univision’s 2017 lineup is set to bring MLS matches to a wider audience than ever before with at least six matches on Univision network and 18 matches on UniMás, most simulcast on UDN.
- New UniMás programming windows on Saturday afternoons bring MLS action to Univision’s biggest platforms
- Select broadcasts, including the 2017 MLS Cup broadcast, will incorporate the popular La Barra MLS pregame program, bringing viewers the sights and sounds of the stadium atmosphere as well as pre-match interviews with players, coaches and MLS experts.
- All Univision Deportes matches will be available in English via SAP and livestreamed online via UnivisionDeportes.com.
Additional 2017 Season Notes and Key Dates
- Schedule Format: Each club will play 34 games, including 17 home games and 17 away games. Teams will face each of their 10 conference opponents twice during the season with one game at home and one game away. Clubs also will compete in select additional games against different conference opponents three times, and they will face each non-conference opponent once.
- Midday Summer Windows: The 2017 schedule reduces the number of matches affected by heat in the summer with just nine matches, six national broadcasts, on early summer afternoons (vs.15 total matches in 2016). Additionally, those six matches will be played in more temperate climates (Atlanta inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Toronto, Portland, Minnesota, Montreal, Seattle). Total number of matches,
- Record Number of Matches: 374 matches will be played this season, more than any other MLS season.
- MLS Cup Rematch: Toronto FC will travel to Seattle to face Sounders FC in a 2016 MLS Cup rematch on May 6 that will air on ESPN (4 p.m. ET).
- Postseason Schedule: Details for the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs and 2017 MLS Cup will be announced at a later date.
- MLS All-Star Game: Dates and details for the 2017 MLS All-Star Game will be announced in the coming weeks.