MLS regular season to begin April 3

Tanya Simon
January 26, 2021

All 27 teams will play a customary 34-game regular season, the league announced, with the regular season concluding on November 7.

In December, Bob Foose, the executive director of the MLS Players Association, said nearly 20 percent of MLS players were infected with COVID-19 in 2020.

MLS also announced Monday that its six-week preseason training starts on February 22. Upon reporting to their clubs, players are required to quarantine and first train individually.

Minnesota United and the league's 26 other teams, including expansion Austin FC, can begin training February 22.

MLS will see the opening of three new stadiums for Austin FC, FC Cincinnati, and the Columbus Crew SC.

MLS had originally targeted a mid-March start date, but a source with knowledge of the situation said that when the CONCACAF Champions League would start in April, that gave MLS additional flexibility to delay the start of the regular season by two weeks.

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This season, dozens of players will also compete for their respective national teams in FIFA World Cup Qualifying, along with the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the European Championship, Copa America and the Summer Olympics. There will be 13 teams in the Western Conference and 14 in the East.

The Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC, and the newly named Club de Foot Montreal all had to relocate to American cities for most of last season due to the closed Canada-USA border. "More details on plans for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future".

Testing protocol will continue for players, coaches, technical staff and essential club staff during the season, meaning each delegate with be tested every other day for COVD-19. Clubs also will continue to take chartered flights for all road trips until further notice.

Negotiations continue for a labor agreement between MLS and the Major League Soccer Players Association.

Earlier this month, MLS proposed paying the players their full salaries this season in exchange for a two-year extension of the current CBA - effectively freezing wages for two additional years. On January 23, the MLSPA submitted a response to the league's proposal. MLS said it remains committed to reaching an agreement before the deadline.

Major League Soccer will announce the complete 2021 regular season schedule, including the national broadcast schedule for the league's media partners in the USA and Canada, in the coming weeks.

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