Report: MLS Shortening Time Frame of Return-to-Play Tournament Amid COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 29:  The official MLS ball ahead of the game between the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution at Olympic Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Impact defeated New England Revolution 2-1.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Major League Soccer is amending its plans to resume the 2020 season so that its proposed return-to-play tournament would "fit within a shorter time frame," according to ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle.

The Athletic's Jeff Rueter reported May 21 that MLS was considering a format similar to the World Cup. Teams would be split into four groups. The top two group finishers after five matches would then move on to a knockout round.

Once the tournament concludes, a more traditional regular season would begin.

The Washington Post's Steven Goff reported May 11 that MLS was looking to have all 26 teams move to the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida, to train and stage matches. The NBA is exploring a similar plan to resume its 2019-20 season.

Carlisle reported MLS would have teams travel to Florida around June 21 and remain at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for roughly a month before the tournament begins.

According to Goff, the initial proposal would've had the Orlando training camp starting June 1 and games beginning July 1.

For the time being, individual clubs are left to practice in their home cities. Carlisle reported one justification for a shorter tournament is that players would be able to stay longer in their local markets and spend less time in Orlando.

Carlisle noted, however, one hurdle to the new plan is that the United States hasn't enacted a uniform approach to relaxing COVID-19-related restrictions. The Chicago Fire, D.C. United and San Jose Earthquakes are still unable to resume training, even on a limited basis.