For first time, Detroit City FC matches to air on top ESPN platforms

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit City FC's move up the national soccer landscape is opening up more opportunities for exposure.

Officials from Le Rouge, the Hamtramck-based soccer club entering its 11th season, announced Thursday that two matches in the 2022 season are scheduled to be broadcast on national television. For the first time, Detroit City FC will be shown on the linear ESPN platform — the April 15 home match against Birmingham Legion FC will be broadcast on ESPN Deportes and the June 18 home match against El Paso Locomotive FC is slotted for ESPN2 with an outside chance it could be elevated to ESPN.

Those are two of the 19 USL Championship matches that will air on national TV in 2022. Detroit City FC is entering its first season in the league.

Detroit City FC's Maxi Rodriguez celebtrates with fans as he runs past them with a can of smoke Saturday, July 3, 2021.

“The club has already begun to see the dividends of moving forward into the USL Championship,” Detroit City FC co-owner Alex Wright said. “It says a lot about the job Trevor James has done to build our first team, as well the unmatched atmosphere our supporters have created at Keyworth Stadium. In our first season in the USL Championship, we are one of two clubs with multiple home matches airing linear on ESPN platforms. We are thrilled by this opportunity to introduce DCFC to a global audience.” 

Detroit City FC's entire slate of games will continue to be available via streaming at ESPN+, and more than a dozen games will air on local linear television throughout the state, including TV20 in Metro Detroit. The full local television schedule will be released at a later date; Detroit City FC continues to have negotiations with stations in up to five markets throughout the state about airing games.

The broadcast team of Neal Ruhl and John Kreger will return and will call all the home matches with the exception of the ESPN2 broadcast, which will be handled by the league. New this year, Ruhl will call several road games from a studio in Florida, allowing the local market a familiar feel — and opening up additional opportunities for local sponsors of Detroit City FC.

Detroit City games have appeared on Fox Sports Detroit and beIN Sports USA, but the ESPN announcement gives Le Rouge the biggest media reach its ever had.

“As the USL grows, our fantastic partners at ESPN continue to increase our national visibility every year and deliver first-class, one-stop access via their linear and streaming platforms,” USL executive vice president Court Jeske said in a statement. “Every nationally televised game gives U.S. sports fans a taste of what makes the USL a great brand of soccer.

"Through ESPN’s platforms, more American soccer fans are discovering the high level of play and festive atmosphere that USL clubs and their fans bring week after week.”  

Detroit City FC begins the season March 12 at San Antonio FC, and then meets Charleston Battery on March 19 for the club's home opener at Keyworth Stadium. The regular season runs through the middle of October.

Le Rouge was a member of the National Independent Soccer Association from 2019 until departing for the USL Championship in November. From 2012-19, Detroit City FC was in the National Premier Soccer League.

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tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984