Major League Soccer will resume its regular season with teams playing back home in their own markets soon after its MLS is Back final on Tuesday in Orlando.
In some cases, that will include playing with a limited number of spectators where local health regulations allow.
In a halftime interview with FS1 of Wednesday’s semifinal, MLS commissioner Don Garber said the league soon announce a schedule that gets teams out from under that bubble and back home. That announcement is expected as soon as Friday.
The league’s tournament has two games left, including Minnesota United taking on Orlando City on Thursday night, in its 51-game, 35-day event conducted in a protective “bubble.”
“We will get back to our markets,” Garber said. “We’re going to be able to play with fans where we can and not play with fans in most of our markets.”
Minnesota United has not yet played a game at its Allianz Field in this 2020 season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its March 15 home opener was among the first weekend of games the league canceled when all major U.S. professional sports shut down.
On Tuesday night a socially distanced and masked audience of 1,489 fans attended the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball game at 8,000-plus capacity CHS Field for the first time this season.
Major League Baseball teams, including the Twins, are playing games in their home markets outside a bubble, without fans and with some postponements where testing revealed viral outbreaks. MLS, the NBA, the NHL and the WNBA so far have played all of their games while players have been regularly tested for the virus and quarantined in hotels and arenas/facilities without fans.
FC Dallas and Nashville, which both withdrew from the MLS tournament after multiple players tested positive for the virus upon the teams’ arrival in Orlando, are scheduled to play twice late next week. The first full weekend of play would be Aug. 21-23, the Washington Post reported.
Garber said the league intends to finish a regular season, hold playoffs and have an MLS Cup played before year’s end.
“What drives MLS is this soccer culture and getting into our markets, getting our players back, getting them home,” Garber said. “Getting them to be able to play in their stadiums and being able to train in their training grounds.”
Garber said league officials “learned a lot” under the bubble about conducting games in a pandemic.
“We learned about testing,” he said. “We learned about the incredible commitment of players wearing masks and socially 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.”
MLS, Portland Timbers, Philadelphia Union, Orlando City SC, Minnesota United FC
Actu monde – GB – MLS to resume in-market games after Orlando tournament in ‘bubble’ ends Tuesday