When Major League Soccer first informed its U.S. media partners about its return-to-play plan through a World Cup-style tournament in a controlled setting, Sonia Gomez Baker had one goal in mind – lead her team to successfully program 31 match windows in five weeks across ESPN’s linear television networks.
Before then, she had pondered the uncertainty of not knowing when or whether the league would be able to resume play after shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tonight’s MLS is Back Tournament Final at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex – Portland Timbers versus Orlando City SC (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes) – culminates the hard work of Gomez Baker and her team over the past few months.
As senior director of programming and acquisitions with oversight for soccer, Gomez Baker manages the company’s MLS relationship – not to mention a soccer portfolio that features more than 22 different leagues/partners and in excess of 2,500 annual matches that air across ESPN’s linear networks and ESPN+.
Gomez Baker is a former high school soccer player. She credits teamwork at ESPN and the Walt Disney Company for the success of the 51-match tournament, led by the production and remote production operations crews, as well as the Disney Parks team in Orlando.