As the MLS is Back Tournament winds down, MLS Commissioner Don Garber suggested the regular season is about to ramp back up.
During halftime of the Portland/Philadelphia semifinal game Wednesday evening, Garber briefly commented on how well he believed the tournament has gone in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and also noted that the restart to the 2020 could be here sooner rather than later.
Like Major League Baseball, the intent of the league is to get teams playing back in their home markets for the remainder of the season, according to Garber. Both the NBA and NHL are finishing their season in “bubbles,” though both leagues were near the end of their seasons, unlike MLS and MLB.
“We will get back to our markets,” Garber said. “We’ll be announcing our schedule soon.”
"We will get back to our markets. We will be announcing our schedule soon."@MLS commissioner @thesoccerdon confirms plans for a regular season after the #MLSisBack Tournament. pic.twitter.com/h7giOlYhsn— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2020
As first reported by The Athletic, the 2020 season would resume on Aug. 22, with each team playing 18 games through November. The season would then conclude with an 18-team playoff and the MLS Cup final on Dec. 12. Steven Goff from the Washington Post is further reporting that the first set of games will start on Aug. 21, with New England hosting Philadelphia.
Garber touted the fact that there had been no positive tests of MLS players, coaches or staff during the month-long tournament, and expressed hope that the league would be able to scale the operation to the home markets of its teams.
“We learned a lot in the bubble. We learned about testing,” Garber said. “We learned about the incredible commitment of our players, wearing masks and social distancing and taking real responsibility for keeping themselves safe. And that really will give us a sense of what we need to do.”
Garber also said that they will allow fans inside the venues wherever they are permitted pursuant to federal and local officials. As previously reported by Sounder at Heart, the Seattle Sounders are unlikely to be allowed to host fans, if the season resumes in August. However, the Sounders have not foreclosed the possibility of fans in-stadium later this year.
One issue Garber didn’t comment on is the status of the Canadian teams. The Canadian government is not allowing games to be played against U.S. teams in their markets, meaning the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact might have to find alternate locations to play in. Early reports have suggested they’d start out playing against one another.