Amid rumors that MLS could opt to delay the start of the 2021 season with the coronavirus pandemic still raging, came public indication from the league that they want to maintain business as usual to the best possible extent.
Notably, MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott told The Athletic that the plan at this point is to kick off next season in early March.
“Based on the crowded international calendar next year, we are targeting to start our season in early March as usual,” Abbott said. ”The restrictions on our ability to have fans in our stadiums this year contributed to very significant financial losses. Like all leagues, we are concerned about those restrictions continuing for a second year and are continually evaluating how to manage through the impact of the pandemic in 2021.”
MLS started the 2020 season earlier than ever, in late February, but had to shut down two weeks into the season as the pandemic first took hold in the United States. The games returned in the summer for the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, an experience that was seen as very positive by the San Jose Earthquakes, before teams resumed play in local markets in mid-August, wrapping up the regular season last weekend.
Of course, the Earthquakes will look to extend their 2020 season, with an upcoming playoff game coming Nov. 22 against Sporting Kansas City, but there appears to be a firm target date for the league for next season. Of course, a target and the ability to carry it through are two different things, and with the country bracing for yet another spike in coronavirus cases, who knows what things will look like by the start of March.
But that’s the plan. Don’t put money on it at this point, but it’s a date to aim for at this stage. We’ll see how it shakes out.
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