NEW YORK – Major League Soccer Thursday announced that the league’s three Canadian clubs will continue the regular season in their respective home markets beginning Aug. 18.

The Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will play matches against each other during the first phase of the revised regular season schedule. Each Canadian team will play the other two Canadian teams three times for a total of six games.

MLS decision to have the three Canadian teams play each other during phase one of the schedules is a result of the Canada-U.S. border being closed for non-essential travel until Aug. 21. Today’s announcement follows the Aug. 8 news regarding the schedules and comprehensive health and safety protocols for the 23 MLS clubs based in the United States.

There had been rumors and reports that the Impact and Toronto would call Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. home, but they had not come to fruition.

The return to play for the Canadian teams will feature the same strict protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19. All players, technical staff, and essential club staff with Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be tested every other day, including the day before each match. Guidelines to avoid the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 during time away from club facilities will also be provided to players, coaches and staff.

Continuing the league’s commitment to protecting the health of the players and all participants, the schedule for Canadian teams was built to maximize travel efficiency. Teams will take chartered flights and matches between Montreal and Toronto will see the visiting club arrive in the host market on matchday and depart after the game. Due to the long distance between Vancouver and the other two clubs, the Whitecaps will open their schedule with a road trip in which the club will play matches in Toronto on Aug. 18 and 21, and in Montreal on Aug. 25.

The Canadian team that earns the most points against the other Canada clubs during this first phase of the revised regular season schedule in home markets will qualify for the 2020 Canadian Championship final. The final will be a winner-take-all final against the winner of the eight-team Canadian Premier League Island Games. The winner of Canada’s Battle of the North will lift the Voyageurs Cup and qualify for the next edition of Concacaf Champions League.

MLS 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.