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MLS extends moratorium on training through April 3; NWSL announces delay to start of 2020 season

Growing coronavirus pandemic makes it tough to predict when we’ll get close to anything like normal.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Update, 3/25: Major League Soccer announced on Wednesday (3/25) that the moratorium on team training has been extended through Friday, April 3. Thus, the earliest any team could resume training is Saturday, April 4. The Seattle Sounders are under a “Stay at Home” order issued by Governor Jay Inslee, which will not expire until April 8.

Original story: On the heels of further postponing their seasons, MLS, the NWSL and the USL extended the moratorium on team training sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the NWSL has announced that their season will be delayed.

Both MLS and the USL had previously announced postponements of their regular seasons until May 10. While the USL is pushing the extension of the training moratorium until April 5, MLS only moved their deadline through the close of business on March 27.

“During this time, MLS players are expected to remain in each club’s respective market and have been advised to exercise safe social distancing measures,” MLS said in a release “At this time, team training facilities may only be accessed for physical therapy purposes at the direction of club medical staff to ensure adherence to safety protocols.”

It’s unclear why MLS announced such a short extension in light of the fact that the earliest they will return to the field is May 10, but it presumably allows the league more flexibility in bringing players back into training early in the event they feel comfortable that the pandemic shows signs of abating.

The NWSL was the last of the professional leagues to announce a delay to their season, as they were not set to begin play until April.

“As we continue to follow the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Women’s Soccer League has extended its training moratorium through and including Sunday, April 5, 2020,” NWSL said in a release. “As a result, our regular season start, scheduled for April 18, will be delayed. We are considering all possible implications for the preseason and regular season schedules while prioritizing the health and safety of our players, staff and fans.”

The USL announcement also follows a report that multiple teams were in training this week, despite the CDC guidance against public gatherings of 10 or more people. MLS and USL in their release added that they remain in close contact with the Center for Disease Control as well as local officials, and will provide additional updates as necessary.

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