May restart ‘unlikely’ for MLS

Amid discussions around a potential return to normal play, Major League Soccer (MLS) has revealed that it is ‘extremely unlikely’ that play will resume in time for the originally targeted mid-May date due to the ongoing health crisis. 

Having suspended all play on March 12 due to impacts arising from the COVID-19 outbreak and further extending that suspension of play on March 19 for a further eight weeks, the MLS followed guidance received by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and originally targeted a return date of May 10. 

That said, and due to the fact that the health crisis is still ongoing, the return date for the North American soccer competition is now having to be revised, with the MLS also recently extending the training moratorium on all franchises until April 24. 

The MLS statement read: “Major League Soccer continues to regularly evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how it will affect our plans for the 2020 season. Although we hoped to return to play in mid-May, that is extremely unlikely based on the guidance of federal and local public health authorities. 

“Our goal remains to play as many games as possible, and while we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so. 

“We continue to learn more every day from the medical experts, and we expect to have additional details in the coming weeks regarding when we can return to play. As we have throughout this process, we will update our fans with every decision, and we thank them for their support and understanding during this extremely challenging time.”

Unlike its European soccer counterparts, the MLS has only seen two rounds of fixtures played and, as a result, any restart to play will now have to take into account potential congestion of fixtures as to not impact or delay its 2021 calendar.