With the start of the Major League Soccer season just around the corner and a collective bargaining agreement secured by the league, it is almost time to watch some soccer. The league minimum salary is not the only thing changing this year, however, as there have been plenty of changes to how the league is beamed into our homes.
So, let's take a look at all the ways that you can get your Portland Timbers fix this year.
Unlike in years past, the Timbers have yet to announce their full local TV schedule, only confirming that the season opener will be broadcast on ROOT Sports this Saturday. The full schedule should be announced soon, but no official date has been given.
The nationally broadcast matches, however, have been confirmed already and the Timbers will be one of the most widely viewed teams in the league this season. Twelve of the team's 34 matches are set to be broadcast nationally.
It is never quite that simple, though.
Of the nationally broadcast matches, six will be on ESPN2, available on both Comcast and Direct TV in HD. An additional four will be on FOX Sports 1, available on Comcast and Direct TV in HD. Finally, two will be on UniMas, available on Comcast in SD and on Direct TV in HD.
ESPN2 and FOX Sports 1 are both available in the basic packages from Direct TV and Comcast. Unimas, however, is available in the basic package from Direct TV, but only in the "Digital Preferred" or greater packages from Comcast.
Provider not addressed above? Tell us in the comments and we will see what we can find for you.
While finding the Timbers on TV will be fairly straightforward (Which channel is it on? Do you have that channel? Done.), going online will present more options and issues for the discerning fan.
The various cable networks each have their own streaming sites.
Matches on ESPN2 will generally be available through WatchESPN.com. FOX Sports, meanwhile, has FOX Sports Go. Unimas is more tricky*, with the Univision Deportes iPhone/Android app allowing for some streaming for Direct TV subscribers, but not for those with Comcast.
*Mostly because I don't speak Spanish. If there is an easy streaming solution for Unimas, please share it in the comments.
There is another possibility for the online viewer: MLS Live.
The league's streaming service has been a staple of confused and annoyed MLS viewers for years now. Want to watch your local team online rather than on TV? Too bad. MLS Live knows where you live and blacks out any game being broadcast in your area, a policy that includes every nationally broadcast game.
If you want to watch a game going on outside of your media market, however, and MLS Live has you covered. Again, nationally broadcast matches will be blacked out everywhere, but when you are a Timbers fan living in, say, Colorado, you can tune into all of the team's locally broadcast matches here.
Note: There are certainly other methods for streaming matches online. If they are legal, feel free to discuss them below and we will add them here. If they are not legal, please don't.