MLS could plan to restart play in Orlando in June with a tournament-style format with groups


As Major League Soccer targets a return in June or July, the league is considering several options for returning to the field. One of those potential plans includes playing in Orlando or possibly splitting games between two cities, according to The Washington Post. Games could be in a tournament format and begin the third or fourth week of June, according to ESPN

If a plan involving one or multiple neutral sites does come to fruition, it would involve players isolated in a bubble and routinely tested with the hopes of eventually returning to home markets when possible. Games would initially be held without spectators, as expected. 

Any plans would need to be approved by the MLS Players Association. ESPN’s report says that one of the scenarios would see teams divided into groups, with each team playing five games in the group stage. From there, a tournament would decide the champion, and there would also be consolation games

It’s unlikely that this format would be in place of the regular season, serving more as an in-season tournament to get action back underway before a return to home stadiums for each team becomes feasible. 

Several MLS teams got back to the training field last week following the league’s decision to allow voluntary individual workouts as long as it was permitted by the government and health policies for the specific localities. The training sessions were the first since the league stopped on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Play remains suspended until at least June 8. The 2020 regular season saw each team play two matches before it was suspended. MLS Cup is set for November while the league has acknowledged the possibility of it being moved to December. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said reiterated his desire to play as many matches as possible, while he’s also open to different formats to complete the season if deemed necessary. 

Most leagues in the world are stopped at the moment due to COVID-19, while some countries have seen their seasons end early like France, Netherlands and Belgium. Germany’s Bundesliga announced last week that play would resume behind closed doors on May 16 with all 18 top-flight teams in action this weekend.

This is MLS’ 25th season, a monumental milestone for the league, especially considering two expansion clubs were brought on in Inter Miami and Nashville SC. 





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