ESPN to Celebrate 25 Years of Major League Soccer with Eight-Hour Programming Marathon on Monday

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ESPN to Celebrate 25 Years of Major League Soccer with Eight-Hour Programming Marathon on Monday

  • Four Classic League Matches to Air on ESPN2, Including Inaugural 1996 MLS Cup, Landon Donovan’s first MLS Cup, David Beckham’s Debut and 2019 ‘El Tráfico’ Playoff Clash
  • ESPN+ to Stream Collection of Historic MLS Matches On-Demand

ESPN2 will celebrate 25 years of Major League Soccer with an eight-hour programming marathon featuring four classic matches on Monday, April 6 – the anniversary of Major League Soccer’s inaugural match – San Jose Clash vs. DC United, which aired on ESPN in 1996. ESPN2’s programming marathon will anchor MLS-themed content across multiple ESPN platforms, including on-demand streaming of a collection of historic matches on ESPN+, a special edition of Banter with Taylor Twellman digital show, and two classic matches on ESPN Deportes.

The MLS classic match marathon will begin at 6 p.m. ET with the 1996 MLS Cup. D.C. United scored a 3-2 golden goal overtime victory over LA Galaxy to capture the league’s inaugural championship in a rain-soaked match at Foxboro Stadium.

At 8 p.m., ESPN2 will feature Landon Donovan’s first MLS Cup appearance when he helped lead the San Jose Earthquakes, as a rookie, to a 2-1 overtime victory in the 2001 MLS Cup over the LA Galaxy. Donovan would go on to have one of the most successful careers in Major League Soccer history with a record 14 consecutive All-Star seasons (2001-14) and capturing six MLS Cup titles.

At 10 p.m., ESPN2 will re-air David Beckham’s MLS debut for the LA Galaxy from July 21, 2007 against Chelsea. One of the pivotal moments in league history, Beckham joined MLS after a league-record transfer from Real Madrid. His first match was a star-studded event that attracted Hollywood stars and celebrities among the sellout crowd at The Home Depot Center, now Dignity Health Sports Park.

The night concludes with an encore presentation of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal between ‘El Trafico’ rivals LAFC and LA Galaxy (12 a.m.), featuring star players Carlos Vela (LAFC) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy). The match resulted in an action-packed, high-scoring 5-3 LAFC victory.

ESPN+ to stream a collection of historic MLS matches on-demand: ESPN+, the leading direct-to-consumer sports streaming service, and the home of MLS Live out-of-market matches, will mark the anniversary by offering a collection of historic MLS matches throughout the Spring, including the 2013 MLS Cup (Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake) and 2014 MLS All-Star Game (MLS All-Stars vs. Bayern Munich).

Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) through the ESPN App, (on mobile and connected devices), ESPN.com or ESPNplus.com.  It is also available as part of a bundle offer that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu (ad-supported), and ESPN+ — all for just $12.99/month.

Banter with Taylor Twellman: A special edition of the digital show hosted by Taylor Twellman will stream on the ESPN App, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube (Monday at 5:30 p.m.). Guests: ESPN’s Jon Champion; Eric Wynalda (San Jose Clash), who scored the league’s first goal during the inaugural match; D.C. United defender Jeff Agoos; and San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski, who attended the match as a 13-year-old fan.

ESPN Deportes: Beginning at 9 p.m. on Monday, ESPN’s 24-hour Spanish-language sports network, will showcase two matches featuring reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela and LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (2019 Western Conference Semifinal ‘El Tráfico’); followed by LAFC’s 2020 season opener vs. Inter Miami CF.

ESPN.com: As part of ESPN’s celebration of 25 years of Major League Soccer, ESPN.com will publish an oral history of the inaugural 1996 MLS season by Jeff Carlisle and Noah Davis on Monday.

Major League Soccer will precede ESPN2’s programming marathon with enhanced presentation of the league’s inaugural game on MLS Facebook and YouTube platforms at 4 p.m.

Additional updates about ESPN programming will be announced via @ESPNPR and ESPN Press Room.

25 Years of Major League Soccer Marathon on ESPN2 – Monday, April 6:

Time (ET) Match (Original Air Date)
6 p.m. 1996 MLS Cup: D.C. United vs. LA Galaxy (Oct. 20, 1996)

The inaugural MLS Cup in 1996, a 3-2 DC United overtime victory. U.S. National Team defender Eddie Pope scored the golden goal.

8 p.m. 2001 MLS Cup: San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy (Oct. 21, 2001)

Rookie Landon Donovan helps lead San Jose Earthquakes to their first MLS Cup title.

10 p.m. LA Galaxy vs. Chelsea FC (July 21, 2007)

David Beckham’s debut match for LA Galaxy against Chelsea after his league record transfer from Real Madrid. Covered by media from around the world, the match drew a sellout crowd, including Hollywood stars and celebrities.

12 a.m. 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs: LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (Oct. 24, 2019)

Last season’s ‘El Trafico’ game delivered the most-watched MLS Cup Playoff match on ESPN and ESPN Deportes combined. Carlos Vela and LAFC scored a 5-3 victory, their first win in three matches over Zlatan Ibrahimovic and LA Galaxy.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties, including soccer, NFL and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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