With ratings momentum on the circuit's side, ESPN will present MLS Cup 2009 in primetime on Sunday Nov. 22.
Coverage of the championship match, pitting the Los Angeles Galaxy, led by league MVP and U.S. national team captain Landon Donovan and British international David Beckham, against the upstart Real Salt Lake FC, helmed by U.S.national teamer Kyle Beckerman, kicks off at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
Veteran soccer play-by-play commentator J.P. Dellacamera will call the match with soccer Hall of Famer and former U.S.men's national team captain John Harkes providing analysis. Allen Hopkins and Rob Stone will work the sidelines, with the latter hosting on-site studio segments before and after the match and at halftime from Xbox pitch at Qwest Field in Seattle, home to MLS's successful Sounders FC side. Stone will be joined by former U.S. women's national team captain Julie Foudy and former U.S. men's national team player and ex-Galaxy president and general manager Alexi Lalas, who directed the club when it acquired Beckham.
ESPN will telecast the match, which has been the subject of much analyses on SportsCenter, ESPN News and ESPN2's First Take throughout the week, via 19 cameras, including a pair of super slo-mo macines, steadicam and skycam. ESPN Axis, the virtual replay technology, will also be in force, as will the "offside line," a virtual line affixed to the last defender to illustrate whether the infraction occurred.
Additionally, graphic "heat maps" will track the movements of star players during the match, measuring speed and total distance run by every player on the field. With the MLS Cup in Seattle, the home of one of the most vibrant MLS fan-bases, ESPN's telecast will pay homage to the circuit's "supporter groups," a celebration of the fans who passionately follow their teams throughout the season. Using "Follow your Heart" as the theme, highlights/footage of the Seattle FC Alliance will be interspersed into the telecast
ESPN International will televise the MLS Cup 2009 in 122 countries via coverage on ESPN Dos/Dos Mexico, ESPN+, ESPN+ Andina, Australia HD, ESPN Atlantic, ESPN Middle East, ESPN Pacific Rim, Latin North/South; Latin/Caribbean and Latin/Brasil regions.
Broadband service ESPN360.com will simulcast the match, while ESPN Deportes.com has been featuring daily MLS Cup stories, matchup previews and will provide a post-game report.. In addition, there will be chats with players, blogging and columns by Fernando Palomo; video preview and post-match reports, plus an MLS Cup gamecast.
During its last MLS telecast --a 2-0 victory by the Galaxy in the Western Conference final against the Houston Dynamo-- ESPN2 set a network record for the domestic league, averaging a 0.5 rating, 538,000 homes and 700,000 viewers during the extra-time contest. That topped the previous mark of 532,000 homes and 658,000 viewers who witnessed the match between the Galaxy and Chivas USA on Aug. 23, 2007.
After adopting a more flexible schedule in 2009, ESPN2 averaged 290,000 watchers for 25 matches this past season, up from 253,000 for 26 in 2008, when most of its MLS games aired on Thursday nights.