MLS says it will not resume play in mid-May as planned, will likely restart without fans

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

While MLS commissioner Don Garber remains “focused at getting in as many games as possible,” he said the league is brainstorming a variety of options accommodate the coronavirus pandemic, including playing games without fans.

Garber spoke with ESPN host Taylor Twellman on Monday night, outlining several ideas the league is considering, including changing the structure of the playoffs and utilizing neutral-site venues to avoid contamination.

MLS stated it hoped to play a full 34-game season following the suspension of play due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the league released a statement Tuesday morning saying it is “extremely unlikely” that play can resume by May 10 as it had originally planned.

“Our goal remains to play as many games as possible, and while we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so,” the statement read. “We continue to learn more every day from the medical experts, and we expect to have additional details in the coming weeks regarding when we can return to play. As we have throughout this process, we will update our fans with every decision, and we thank them for their support and understanding during this extremely challenging time.”

When the league does resume, Garber told Twellman it’s likely matches will initially be played without fans in the stands. These games would be called “MLS Studio” games and would still offer broadcast options for fans to watch from home.

Garber added the MLS training moratorium — which currently ends on April 24 — will be extended for “at least a couple weeks.”

The commissioner said the league has not formally discussed a reduction in player salaries; however, he said that will be expected if the suspension continues.

The commissioner noted he is watching the progress of leagues in Europe to gain insight into how to proceed with a return to training or matches.

“Our hope is to still continue to do that but that decision can’t be made sitting here today,” Garber said. “The plan is to play as many games of the 34 game season as possible.”

Source- Pro Soccer USA

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