MLS readies itself for regular 2020 campaign to start mid-August
Major League Soccer is set to resume its regular season in mid-August, following the league's MLS is Back tournament, currently taking place in Florida.
The first full league action since early March, when the 2020 season was initially suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, will take place on 21 to 23 August, according to the Washington Post, but two teams, Nashville SC and FC Dallas, will play each other twice first, between 12 and 15 August.
These two matches would take place because those clubs did not take part in the Orlando tournament, because of Covid-19 cases emerging shortly after they arrived in Florida.
The 2020 season would then carry on through the North American autumn, and finish with the MLS Cup in December.
MLS and the league’s players association are currently engaged in discussions about how, logistically, the season could resume in its normal format - testing protocols, transportation options (most teams usually take commercial flights to and from away games), and fan attendance are all reportedly being talked through.
It is anticipated that spectators will be allowed into matches again before the end of the season, with some teams in the second-tier United Soccer League allowed to fill a small percentage of their stadium’s capacity already.
The MLS is Back tournament at the Walt Disney World Resort complex finishes with the final on 11 August.
The fate of the league’s three Canadian teams also hangs in the balance. Media reports suggest that those sides will play games against each other in Canada initially, before relocating to the US for the rest of the season once the border between the two countries opens for business again.
Last month, MLS took the decision to delay the debuts of three expansion sides because of the pandemic.
The Charlotte franchise, which was due to join in 2021, will now have to wait until 2022, while a St. Louis club and Sacramento Republic FC have both had their elevation put back a year to 2023.
However, Austin FC will debut next year as scheduled.