Sounders FC

MLS set to go prime time – sort of – on NBC

The national profile of Major League Soccer took a couple of steps forward Wednesday with the announcement of a television deal with NBC and the reports that USA national team member Freddy Adu might return at Chivas USA.

“I think the league continues to gain momentum, to gain credibility,” Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said after watching the Sounders train at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. “I just continue to think that as long as we keep working hard and doing the right things, making the good decisions, it’s going to continue to improve and increase over time.”

The deal with NBC will run from 2012-2014 and will replace the current broadcast package with Fox Soccer Channel. NBC and NBC Sports Network (a new name for the current Versus cable channel) will broadcast 45 league games each season.

The two regular-season games and two playoff games shown on NBC will represent the first MLS presence on network television since 2002.

NBC also promises to use its other sports programming – including NFL coverage – to promote MLS.

“It’s exciting,” Hanauer said. “(These networks are) in a lot more homes, which ultimately is good for us. I think Fox has been a very good partner … but with the infrastructure and the capacity to promote our league within the NBC family of networks, I think it will end up being a good thing.”

It could also be a good thing for NBC and MLS if Adu returns to the league, where he famously began his professional career as a 14-year-old. In his rookie season, he became the youngest player ever to appear in an MLS match and the youngest to score a goal.

After three seasons, he went on to play internationally, increased his reputation with the national team, and now, at age 22, could join Chivas USA – which has both interest and the top spot in the MLS allocation order for returning national team players.

Hanauer said the Sounders also would like to bring in some new talent before the current transfer window closes this weekend.

We’re working hard on it,” he said. “But again, we’re not going to be desperate and stupid. If we’re unable to nab our target or targets, we’re going to have to live with the consequences.”

ADDED TIME

Forward O’Brian White (leg), midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring) and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (knee) all played 45 minutes in the Sounders Reserves’ 2-1 loss at Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday and came through feeling fine. … No. 2 goalkeeper Terry Boss (concussion) also returned to training this week. … The Sounders return to Starfire today to continue training for their Saturday MLSmatch against Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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