D.C. United TV deal and notes

(D.C. United)
(D.C. United)

D.C. United and Comcast SportsNet announced a 14-game package, which will begin May 3 at Portland. CSN is obligated to carry 16 matches. The other two are likely to be late-season away games. As part of the contract, which is in the second of three years, the sides have the option of adding additional games. That decision would hinge on United’s success on the field during the summer.

For matches not available on CSN or a national outlet, United’s website will carry a live stream. Per MLS broadcast guidelines, the online feed is limited to a 75-mile radius of Washington, which allows Baltimore area supporters to watch but, according to a club executive, will block fans in Richmond.

MLS’s pay packages, Direct Kick and MLS Live, also carry most games.

United’s season opener March 8 was not available on standard TV locally or nationally. The situation is the same for this Saturday’s match at Toronto.

Combining CSN’s schedule with NBC Sports Network, ESPN and UniMas coverage, only 24 of 34 United matches will be available on regular outlets. The following games are not currently on the schedule:

(Note: CSN will add at least two from this list)

March 8 vs. Columbus

March 22 at Toronto

April 5 vs. New England

April 19 at Columbus

April 26 vs. Dallas

August 9 at Real Salt Lake

August 17 vs. Colorado (Univision Deportes broadcast)

August 23 at Kansas City

Sept. 6 at Vancouver

Sept. 20 at Chicago

Oct. 18 vs. Chicago

Oct. 25 at Montreal

*Former DCU player Santino Quaranta was named color commentator, replacing John Harkes. Dave Johnson, the longtime play-by-play voice, will return.

*United and CBS Radio outlets WJFK (English) and WLZL (Spanish) remain in talks about regular match coverage this season. WJFK’s AM outlet carried the season opener.

*John Thorrington, who closed his 17-year career last season with United, was hired by the MLS players’ union as a special assistant to executive director Bob Foose. He will serve on the executive team engaged in negotiations with the league concerning the collective bargaining agreement, which will expire at the end of this season. Thorrington, 34, is also working toward his MBA through Northwestern University.

*With warming temperatures, United was able to practice on its grass training grounds today after two days of indoor workouts.

*Updated Toronto game-time forecast: mid-30s, 14-mph wind, rain-snow mix is possible.

“Bring it on!” Coach Ben Olsen said.

*Was a weekend off from the league schedule beneficial or detrimental?

“That’s one of those questions I can answer one of two different ways, right?” Olsen said. “I can say, ‘No, you want to get back on the horse and show we are a better team than we were against Columbus.’ Or you can say, ‘You know what? We need two weeks. We have a lot of things to address here.’ I think we had the proper amount of time to at least move forward in what we are going to be about. Some of the deficiencies we had in the preseason, we’re getting better at. But it’s still going to take time. It’s still not an overnight process to get all of these guys on the same page and play at an extremely high level. But it’s got to be better than it was against Columbus.”

*United will assign at least four players to third-division Richmond today or tomorrow. The Kickers will conclude their preseason schedule Saturday and open the USL Pro campaign next week at Charleston. Those shipped to Richmond are available for recall at any time and others will report to the Kickers from time to time in order to gain competitive minutes.

“Guys should be knocking down my door to go down to Richmond because if they are not playing here [in league matches], where are they playing?” Olsen said. “Where else are you going to prove you are ready to go into an 18 here?”

Rookie defender Jalen Robinson is a prime candidate, but needing at last another week to recover from a hamstring injury, he would probably remain in Washington for the time being. Other candidates: Joe Willis, Conor Shanosky, Collin Martin, Christiano Francois and Michael Seaton.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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