MLS Set For Full Return In August

Tanya Simon
August 13, 2020

Games will air nationally in the US on ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision platforms, as well as regionally through individual club broadcast partners.

Buoyed by the MLS is Back tournament and confident of its coronavirus protocols, Major League Soccer will resume its regular season with teams playing in their home cities. The MLS Cup final is scheduled for December 12, the latest date the league has played its championship game. FC Daily on ESPN+.

MLS suspended the season on March 12 because of the pandemic after teams had played two games each. Inter Miami will play home-and-away matches against regional, eastern conference opponents Atlanta United, Nashville SC and Orlando City SC from August 22 to September 12.

Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and has been the University of Miami basketball beat writer for 20 years.

Following the conclusion of the tournament, the league is taking a multi-phased approach in terms of scheduling. Each team will play an additional 18 regular-season games and the games will be played in a home-and-away format with majority played in empty venues.

The USL Championship, the highest-ranking professional sports league in the U.S.to allow fans, saw eight players on Galaxy II recently test positive, leading to the postponement of more than a half-dozen games involving five teams.

"I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament - players, coaches, staff and partners - for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25 season and reconnect with our passionate fans", said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

The return to play in home stadiums will feature comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19. In a bid to make up the three league games they missed, the two sides will play each other three times.

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After their game at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday, Dallas and Nashville will play again August 16. The third match will be held at a point later in the season.

The league's 26 teams will each play 18 games, with the first between FC Dallas and Nashville set for Wednesday. The three Canadian franchises, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are not on the initial schedule because it is uncertain whether the Canadian government will allow travel between the United States and Canada.

The league will continue working with those teams to see what is possible regarding the remainder of the league schedule.

The rest of the schedule will be released early next month.

Garber said no plans have been approved for any teams to have fans in attendance and few probably will in Phase 1, but the goal is to allow them if local and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are followed.

All clubs are forming testing partnerships with a local certified lab, and all players, technical staff, and essential club staff will be tested every other day, including the day before each match day.

Another focus of the new schedule is efficient, safe travel.

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