Major League Soccer’s 20th anniversary season will kick off on time.
The domestic futbol circuit and the Major League Soccer Players Union reached an agreement in principle Wednesday night on a new five-year pact that includes among other things, limited free agency, a first for the single-structure entity, and increased minimum salaries.
The agreement, which is expected to be formally ratified today and detailed during a press conference, ensures that UniMas and Univision Deportes Network will become the first Spanish-language services to open up a major U.S. sports league’s season, when they simulcast the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy hosting the Chicago Fire at 10 p.m. (ET).
The rest of the 18 squads will jump into on March 7 and March 8, when ESPN2 will cover the battle of the newcomers, Orlando City SC hosting New York City FC on ESPN2 at 5 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Fox Sports 1, featuring Sporting Kansas City-New York Red Bulls at 7 p.m. and the Seattle Sounders engaging last season’s runners-up, the New England Revolution, at 9:30 p.m.
Last May, MLS reached eight-year rights deals with Univision Communications, ESPN and Fox Sports, with the new contracts valued at a collective $90 million annually, triple the prior allocation.
“We are pleased to finalize the framework for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We now enter our 20th season with enormous momentum with our new television partnerships, dynamic star players from the US, Canada and abroad, and two new expansion teams in New York City and Orlando that will debut in front of more than 60,000 fans on Sunday in the Citrus Bowl. This agreement will provide a platform for our players, ownership and management to work together to help build Major League Soccer into one of the great soccer leagues in the world.”