Bowing to the realities of the situation, MLS announced Thursday that the season would be further delayed until at least May 10, conforming with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations against mass public gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That would bring the total number of postponed Seattle Sounders matches to seven, with their road game against the San Jose Earthquakes the next game currently on the schedule.
It was only a week ago that MLS put an official halt to the season, suspending games for at least 30 days.
“In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to postpone events involving more than 50 people over the next eight weeks, Major League Soccer has extended the postponement of its matches during this period of time,” according to a release.
Once the CDC issued its new guidelines, it appeared inevitable that MLS would have to extend the moratorium on matches. On Tuesday the USL announced they would extend their suspension of USL Championship and USL League One matches until at least May 10.
With the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation, and social distancing in most parts of the country taking hold, MLS will now settle in for the long haul as they wait — and hope for some sense of normalcy to return. When that will happen is entirely unclear, given estimates of a vaccine being ready for market between 12-18 months. However, MLS says their intent is to complete as much of the 2020 season as is possible. That could include modifications to its previously announced schedule, previously set to end on November 7 with MLS Cup. It’s also looking increasingly likely that MLS teams will be forced to bow out of the U.S. Open Cup.
“MLS remains focused on playing the entire 2020 season and is evaluating all options, including pushing back the end of the season and playing MLS Cup in December, as the league did prior to the 2019 season,” according to the release. “The league is also identifying other available dates.”
MLS has not yet announced when they will allow teams to return to training. The previous hold on practice was set to expire after the close of business on March 20, though in light of this announcement, it seems highly unlikely teams will be training this weekend.