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By ESPN Staff

ESPN purchases broadcast rights to MLS games

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- ESPN has bought the rights to broadcast Major League Soccer games and other related events under an eight-year deal.

ESPN2 will broadcast 26 regular-season games on Thursday nights as well as three playoff games a year. The deal also allows televised coverage of the first round of the MLS SuperDraft.

Also, ABC will broadcast the league's season opener, the All-Star game and the MLS Cup.

The deal marks the first time that a network has agreed to pay for the rights to MLS games.

"ESPN has rights to our games, highlights, chats with our players, etc.," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "This new relationship will have a positive impact on our sport."