Traditionally, Independence Day is a big event for Major League Soccer, with fireworks extravaganzas, big crowds and big publicity. Last year, the league’s broadcast partners joined the fun, with a crammed schedule of nationally telecast games. Fox Soccer started things off at 7:00 on Saturday with a live broadcast from RFK. Galavision joined at 10:00 from the Home Depot Center for Chivas v. Chicago. At 10:30, ESPN2 offered San Jose/New York from Stanford Stadium. The national telecasts continued on Sunday night, as the Rapids hosted their annual pyrotechnic show and soccer game combination. ESPN2 was be at ESG Park. On July 4th, ESPN2 hosted an MLS doubleheader, starting at Rio Tinto. The Worldwide Leader’s 4 games in three nights finished back in Los Angeles with a strong Galaxy/Sounders matchup.
Yet in 2012, the league is taking a much more restrained approach. Before the season began, we spoke with Brad Pursel, Major League Soccer’s Vice President of Club Services about the process of putting together the league schedule. Mr. Pursel has overseen the league’s calendar since 2002 and we asked him about the decline in July 4th featured matches. “We generally have very strong crowds on or around the 4th of July and the atmosphere was there; however, looking at the ratings from last year, we decided not to do as many games around the 4th this year. Last year the 4th of July was part of a long weekend and this year it’s midweek, so that also factored into the thought process.”
This year there will be four July 4th matches including the annual Colorado extravaganza. However, there will be no nationally televised games in the United States. Interestingly, there will be a July 4th doubleheader on TSN in Canada. Both Montreal and TFC will have nationally televised games on their home network.
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