MLS to resume season August 12 but Canadian teams uncertain

Marco Green
August 10, 2020

Major League Soccer today announced its schedule for the initial phase of the continuation of the 2020 regular season, with Sounders FC set to play its first match following the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando on Sunday, August 23 against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park (7:00 p.m. PT / FS1).

FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play an additional three matches to make up for the ones they withdrew from in the MLS is Back tournament.

A majority of games will be played without fans because of local regulations.

Teams will travel using charted flights, arriving and departing on match days.

"Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition". "And if we can't do that in a way that is safe and one that's ensuring the health of our players, then we'll have to address it".

Due to ongoing travel restrictions between the US and Canada, MLS is speaking with its three Canadian teams about their plans for a return to play.

The league will announce its fixtures in a phased approach, with each American club scheduled to play six matches against other American teams by September 14. "Hopefully being able to watch our club play with the appropriate safety measures provides enjoyment for our community during these trying times, as we all continue to do our part in the fight against COVID-19", said Seattle Sounders FC President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey.

"We're looking at all different things on parallel tracks, ideally we'd be playing our home games at Saputo Stadium and we have to plan as though we will", Gilmore said. Because travel between the USA and Canada remains restricted, the schedule will be regionalized for each opponent. Almost 5 million people have contracted COVID-19 and 161,000 have died.

"We understand that getting back to play is going to have some challenges".

"There was risk involved in Orlando, and it wasn't easy", Garber said. "We know that we might have issues that are going to disrupt us and might even force us to postpone games".

That competition, which is taking place in a bubble environment that contains all players and team personnel, will conclude on Tuesday with the final between the Portland Timbers and Orlando City. Only the group stage games of the tournament counted towards the regular season.

All 26 MLS clubs had played two regular season games when action was suspended in March because of the virus, and the league then chose to stage a month-long World Cup-style tournament at Orlando's Walt Disney World. The third match will be held at a point later in the season.

MLS is Back appeared that it might be derailed at the start when Dallas and Nashville had to drop out.

After playing Orlando City at home on August 22, Inter Miami will host Atlanta United on August 26 at 8 p.m. and then hit the road for a pair of road games - August 30 at Nashville SC (8:30 p.m.) and September 2 at Atlanta United (7 pm).

"Having suffered the heartache of the Orlando Tournament, it's wonderful to be preparing for our first game in five months", Nashville coach Gary Smith said in a statement.

The announcement also means FC Cincinnati will get a chance to say "goodbye" to Nippert Stadium, potentially with fans at some point this year, before the opening of the West End stadium in the spring of 2021. Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City also announced that a limited number of fans will be allowed into games.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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