Ready or not, the Major League Soccer season is rolling along.
The league announced today the schedule for the resumption of the 2020 regular season, which will continue in the home markets of all teams. Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back tournament, this “first phase” of the restart will see MLS teams will play six games between August 20 and September 14.
FC Dallas and Nashville SC will be playing three additional games against each other in order to make up the matches they missed due to being pulled out of the MLS is Back tournament. Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the three Canadian teams have yet to schedule matches for this first phase, and are working with the league to finalize the details of their restart.
The Portland Timbers 2020 regular season will restart at home on August 23 against the Seattle Sounders. Their slate for phase one of the MLS restart will also feature home matches against Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy, and away matches at the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles FC, and a rematch against the Sounders in Seattle.
Health and safety protocols for the first phase will feature players and club staff being tested every other day, including the day before each match. Teams are expected to limit away game travel to charter flights or buses, and teams are anticipating conducting all travel on matchday, wherein they would arrive in home markets the day of the match and depart later that same evening after the match concludes.
MLS has also kept the door open to some markets opening up games to fans in a reduced capacity. From the official press release: “At this time, the majority of the matches in local markets will be played without fans in attendance. MLS and club leadership are working with local health authorities and government officials on a plan for limited capacity at certain games where allowed.”
Some teams, such as FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City, have already announced their intentions to play home games with a limited amount of fans in stadiums. All of Portland’s home matches will be played without fans in attendance, and as of writing all of Portland’s away matches will be played behind closed doors as well.
The above represents just the first phase in the league’s restart plan. The intention is for each club to play 18 additional games in a phased approach over the next three months, concluding on decision day on November 8. More regular season dates are expected to be announced in early September, as the league works with health and safety officials, medical personnel, and local officials.
You can find Portland’s full phase one schedule and read the full press release here.