(Wednesday, February 7, 2007) -- Major League Soccer intends to squeeze every ounce out of its investment in David Beckham. The schedule was drawn to have him visit every MLS city in person following his joining the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Virtually every Galaxy game with him will be aired by one of four national television networks.
The former England captain likely will make his league debut in the Galaxy's August 5 visit to Toronto FC, however he could appear in an L.A. uniform before that. His contract with Spain's Real Madrid runs through June 30 and the plan was for him to take a month off. However, the intense pressure to maximize the earning power of the league's $250-million man -- estimating what he will earn in five years -- would get him playing sooner.
The Galaxy plays three first-round matches in the new Superliga -- a competition between four MLS teams and four from the Mexican League -- against Chivas Guadalajara at home July 24, Pachuca July 28 and MLS's FC Dallas July 31.
"Adjustments were made to maximize David Beckham joining the Galaxy in mid-July," Dan Courtemanche, MLS's senior vice president of communications and marketing told Associated Press. "There was no major upheaval to ensure every team will have the Galaxy at home after mid-July."
Los Angeles, which is in the Western Conference, plays each Eastern Conference club once, so all ventures to the East will come after he arrives. The visit to Toronto August 5 begins a four-game road trip which takes the team to D.C. United August 9, the New England Revolution August 12 and the New York Red Bulls six days later.
The Galaxy's game in Toronto will not be televised, but the remaining 16 games will be aired by either ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, Spanish-language Univision or HDNet.
The Galaxy begins a four-game East Coast road trip with the August 5 game in Toronto, followed by games at D.C. United on August 9, the New England Revolution on August 12 and the New York Red Bulls on August 18.
According to the schedule released yesterday -- rather late for a season that commences with five April 7 matches -- each of the league's 195 games will be televised at least regionally for the first time with 113 on a national network, the most ever.
Since its inception in 1996, MLS played a large majority of its matches on weekend, mostly on Saturdays. This year, there will be 25 regular-season games to be televised on Thursdays, with ESPN2 moving its broadcasts to that night after 11 years of MLS Saturday matches. Twenty-five Sunday games will be aired on Spanish-language networks TeleFutura or Galavision, both of which belong to Univision.
To showcase Beckham, the Galaxy will be burdened by five consecutive weeks in which it plays on Thursday and Sunday. In each case, one or both games will be on the road. Conversely, L.A. will face no back-to-back Thursday-Sunday situations before Beckham's scheduled arrival.
By comparison, New York, Real Salt Lake and Toronto have only one Thursday-Sunday scenario, while the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards face none.
Fox Soccer Channel will broadcast 28 regular-season Saturday games, each preceded by the league's first-ever 30-minute pre-game show and followed by a 30-minute post-game show. The FSC matches will also air in Spanish on Fox Sports en Español.
HDNet begins its fifth season of airing MLS matches in high definition, showing 31, 27 on Saturday nights.
D.C. United visits the Colorado Rapids April 7 for the first game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and hosts MLS Cup '07 November 18 at RFK Stadium in Washington. Both outings will be broadcast on ABC.