After the MLS is Back Tournament, the season continues with games in home markets
18 teams will qualify for the postseason and battle for the Audi MLS Cup
MLS Cup will be played December 12
NEW YORK (8 August 2020) — Major League Soccer announced that the next stage of the sesaon will take place across the 26 cities in the league beginning on Aug. 12 and ending on Sep. 14. Each U.S.-based team will play six games. The restart of games in home markets will be in compliance with all state and local protocols, which will include frequent test of players, coaches and essential team personnel for COVID-19.
It has now been determined that each team will play 18 games this season, down from the normal 34 games. The final round, which MLS prefers to call “Decision Day” will be on Sunday, Nov. 8.
The two teams that were excluded from the Disney tournament, FC Dallas and Nashville, are going to get to know each other very well: they will play each other three times during this phase, in addition to their six other games in this phase. Two of those matches will occur before the other teams continue their seasons, on Aug 12 and 16; the third will be played at a later date to be determined.
The postseason is being expanded to 18 teams for 2020, an increase of four over last year. MLS Cup will take place on Dec. 12.
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Games for Canadian Clubs
Because of the restrcitions in place against most crossborder movements between Canada and the United States, the games in this next phase of the 2020 season for the 23 American teams will be against fellow American MLS teams.
Major League Soccer said it is continuing to work with its three Canadian clubs on a plan for the regular season. Details are expected to be announced shortly. It has been speculated that duing this phase, the three Canadian teams would play six games against each other. This apparently has not become the final decision. One of the problems is the fact that Vancouver is on the other side of the continent from Toronto and Montréal, and one of the safety protocols in place in MLS is limits on distances travelled. Options are still being explored, and sources indicate this may include the three Canadian teams playing in a temporarily “substitute” home in the U.S. The Impact de Montréal have reportedly looked at playing games in Burlington, Vermont or at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
MLS will announce the remainder of the calendar sometime before the beginning of September.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in the MLS is Back Tournament – players, coaches, employees and partners – because they have contributed to helping us regain the momentum we had at the start of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate supporters,” declared MLS commissioner Don Garber. “Since the interruption of the competition in March, we have worked to elaborate the plans that will permit us to place as many games as possible, beginning with the Florida tournament, and now to restart the season in our local markets. We continue to pay particular attention to the health and security of our players, our coaches and our employees, and we are rejoicing that the season can continue in our home markets.”
Each team has partnered with a local certified laboratory, and all players, members of the technical staff as well as essential employees of each team will be tested every other day and also prior to each match. Moreover, players, coaches and essential employees have been given directives to help avoid contracting or transmitting COVID-19 when they are outside of team facilities.
In addition to sanitation protocols, the new calendar pays attention to making travel less of a risk. As much as possible, teams will use airplanes and motorcoaches that are specially equipped with all possible sanitation and distancing procedures. Teams will arrive in their opponents’ territory the day of the game and leave right after the game.
For now, the majority of games will be played behind closed doors. MLS will follow local rules and government regulations before deciding whether any of the games might be allowed to have a limited number of fans.
- FC Dallas and Nashville will play each other three times: Aug. 12, Aug. 16 and one other date to be determined.
- Each American team will play six games in this first phase.
- Games for Canadian teams are still to be determined.
- The postseason begins on Nov. 20; 18 teams will qualify this season.
- The two new teams this year, Fort Lauderdale-based Inter Miami CF and Nashville will play each other twice: Aug. 30 in Nashville and Sep. 6 in Fort Lauderdale.
- There will be some rivalries during this phase, including the Hudson River Derby between New York City and their New Jersey neighbours, the Red Bulls on Aug. 20; The Texas rivalry between Houston and FC Dallas on Aug. 21; the Los Angeles derby that some call “El Tráfico” on Aug. 22, and a Cascadia derby match between Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders on Aug. 23.
- The two Ohio teams, Columbus Crew and Fc Cincinnati, will renew their “Hell is Real” rivalry with a home and away series on Aug. 29 and Sep. 6.
Nov. 8 Last Day of the regular season “Decision Day”
Nov. 20 Beginning of the playoffs
Dec. 12 MLS Cup