“We will get back to our markets,” Garber said. “We’ll be announcing our schedule soon. We are going to be able to play with fans where we can and not play with fans in most of our markets.”
Local health guidelines would dictate which stadiums could open to small numbers of spectators. The second-division USL Championship and third-tier League One have been using the same approach for a few weeks.
Major League Baseball is playing in home markets but without fans. The NBA, NHL and WNBA are playing exclusively in bubbles.
FC Dallas and SC Nashville, multiple people close to the planning said, would get the MLS plan started by playing twice in Frisco, Tex., late next week. The first full weekend would be Aug. 21-23, those sources said.
D.C. United is expected to reopen Aug. 21 at FC Cincinnati, host the New England Revolution on Aug. 25 and also play at the Philadelphia Union, home against New York City FC and home and away against the New York Red Bulls as part of a six-game phase ending Sept. 12-13.
The three Canadian teams would initially play among themselves in Canada because of travel issues and government restrictions. (MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays will play home games in Buffalo.)
MLS is expected to provide further information in the coming days, then, barring complications, announce the schedule shortly thereafter.
The league is aiming to schedule additional stages of the regular season in blocks of six through the fall for a total of 18 matches per team, then organized the playoffs in November and December.
MLS was two weeks into the regular season in March when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown. The league returned last month in a closed environment at Disney World, with 24 teams staying at the same resort and delegations undergoing regular testing.
“We learned a lot in the bubble,” Garber said. “We learned about testing. We learned about the incredible commitment of our players, wearing masks and social distancing and taking real responsibility for keeping themselves safe. And that really will give us a sense of what we need to do to finish the season, have playoffs and have an MLS Cup before the end of the year.”
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