NEW YORK – Major League Soccer Saturday announced that following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, the league’s 25th season will continue in the home markets of the 26 clubs with the first game Wednesday, Aug. 12.
The MLS Is Back final will be played between Portland Timbers FC and Orlando City SC in Orlando, Fla. Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The return to play in home markets will feature comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19.
Each club will play 18 additional regular season games in a phased approach, culminating with Decision Day on Sunday, Nov. 8. To make up the three matches missed from the tournament, FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play an additional three matches, against each other, with the first two games on Aug. 12 and 16 and a third game to be scheduled in the fall.
In an expansion of the postseason for 2020, 18 clubs will compete in the MLS Cup Playoffs — up from 14 teams last year. MLS Cup will be played Dec. 12.
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Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, MLS announced the initial phase of the league’s revised schedule with each U.S. club playing six matches against other U.S. teams by Sept. 14.
MLS said that will continue to work with the league’s three Canadian clubs regarding plans to continue the regular season. More details on schedules for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future.
The plans to announce the balance of the regular season schedule by early September as the league continues to work with infectious disease experts, league and club medical personnel, and government officials in all markets.
“I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament — players, coaches, staff and partners — for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets.”
Following the MLS is Back Tournament, COVID-19 testing protocols will again play an important role in MLS’ competition framework. MLS continues to work closely with the league’s infectious disease advisors as well as advisors for the MLSPA on the plan for testing. All clubs are forming testing partnerships with a local certified lab, and all players, technical staff, and essential club staff will be tested every other day, including the day before each match day. Also, guidelines will be provided to players, coaches and essential staff to avoid the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 during their time away from club facilities.
In addition to adhering to health, safety and medical protocols, another focus of the new schedule is efficient travel. Teams will take chartered flights, or buses, and for the majority of road trips will arrive in the host market on matchday and depart after the match later that evening.
Aug. 12 FC Dallas vs. Nashville SC at Toyota Stadium in Frisco
Nov. 8 Regular season ends on Decision Day
Nov. 20 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs begin
Dec. 12 MLS Cup