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Moving Ahead In The Action With . . . Sonia Gomez Baker

As more live sports return to ESPN platforms, meet some of the people working to deliver these events to fans

(Illustration: Emily Archacki)

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.

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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.

BIO BLAST



Name: Sonia Gomez Baker
Hometown/Residence: Anaheim, Calif. / Tustin, Calif.
Role/Dept./Years at ESPN: Senior Director, Programming & Acquisitions / 9.5 years at ESPN
Favorite Team: Manchester United
The thing I’ve missed most: The emotion…the wins, losses, trophies lifted, great goals scored, really just those moments of raw emotion from athletes and fans that sports delivers.
The ESPN game/studio personality I want to see back in action: [Soccer play-by-play commentator] Ian Darke calling EURO 2020 for ESPN which fans will now have to wait until next June to enjoy.
Personal sports highlight from time away from regular, daily live sports: Teaching my almost two-year-old son Rafa to say “kick” and “ball.”
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