MLS Announces Plan to Resume Regular-Season Games Aug. 12 in Home Stadiums

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2014, file photo, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber launches the league's new logo during a press conference  in New York. Garber said Tuesday, Dec 2, 2014, the league is not performing as hoped financially with the league and its franchises still losing more than $100 million combined annually.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Major League Soccer announced Saturday it's going to resume the 2020 regular season Wednesday with matches taking place in teams' home markets following the completion of the MLS is Back Tournament, which took place in a "bubble" environment at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida.

MLS noted clubs are going to play 18 more regular-season games, though Dallas and Nashville will add three head-to-head meetings to that total after withdrawing from the tournament because of positive COVID-19 tests.

"Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, Major League Soccer is working with the league's three Canadian clubs regarding plans to continue the regular season," the league stated. "More details on schedules for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future."

The MLS is Back Tournament group games counted toward the regular-season standings. Less than two weeks of matches had taken place before play was halted in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Portland and Orlando City will play in Tuesday's final.

MLS announced it will increase the playoff field from 14 clubs to 18. The postseason is scheduled to run from from Nov. 20 through Dec. 12 following the conclusion of the regular season.

The league is also planning to reduce the amount of time visiting teams spend on the road. In most cases, they will arrive and depart the opposing city on match day.

"At this time, the majority of the matches will be played without fans in attendance," the announcement stated. "MLS and club leadership are working with local health authorities and government officials on a plan for limited capacity at certain games where allowed."

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Wednesday the league will carry over what it learned from putting together a successful bubble in Orlando to the resumption of a standard schedule.

"We learned a lot in the bubble," he told reporters. "We learned about testing. We learned about the incredible commitment of our players wearing masks and social distancing and taking real responsibility for keeping themselves safe. And that really will give us the sense of what we need to do to finish the season, have playoffs and have an MLS Cup before the end of the year."

Finishing the season by Dec. 12 should allow MLS to begin its 2021 campaign on time in late February or early March.