MLS Commissioner Don Garber was the guest on Taylor Twellman’s new show “Banter with Taylor Twellman” on ESPN this week, and in a preview of Wednesday’s episode, Garber discussed options for bringing MLS back from the coronavirus shutdown.
Put simply, the options are being evaluated at the moment. Garber said they’re looking at various ways to return when the shutdown measures are lifted.
“From tournament formats and neutral locations, ultimately playing an abridged regular season, but doing everything to get as many games,” Garber said, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.
The commissioner noted that because the stay-at-home orders differ from state to state, it’s complicated to bring back the league at once, which presumably explains why they are looking seriously at a tournament format and/or neutral locations.
Garber also said the league is pondering whether to play “studio games,” presumably meaning games behind closed doors.
It sounds like the league would like to initiate an event to resume the season, presumably at a neutral site, and then after some time take games back to home venues but without crowds, as a step towards resumption of everyday life.
But Garber seemed to be clear there’s no decisions and no definitive actions on tap just yet. Carlisle reports that Garber said the current training moratorium for MLS teams will be extended beyond the current April 24 date “at least a couple weeks.”
This interview would seem to provide some hope MLS could come back this year. With projections becoming cloudier by the week that live sports will be out for months longer, not weeks, I think even those full of optimism were starting to flag. Whether Garber’s comments are realistic is another matter entirely, and MLS, like all other entities in the world, will need the approval of public officials to get back in action, no matter how they do it.
We’ll keep you posted when more information and developments emerge.
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