Major League Soccer is still focused on playing an entire 34-game season once the league has been given the green light to resume, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on ESPN’s “Get Up” Tuesday morning.
Joining host Mike Greenberg, Garber said the decision last year to move up the end of the season and hold MLS Cup in early November (as opposed to early December), works in the league’s favor during the current postponement.
“Our intent is to play as many games as we possibly can,” Garber said. “That means moving our regular season later into November, it means moving the MLS Cup back to mid-December and we’ve had that for many, many years.”
What is not expected to change is the single-elimination format that was met with rave reviews a year ago and MLS Cup being hosted by the team that earned that right during the regular season.
“We are very confident that we can go back to that format,” Garber said. “Our plan is to still have single-elimination format that did so well on ESPN last season and to have MLS Cup hosted in the team market that earns it.”
When will play resume? Garber said the league continues to follow the CDC guidelines on mass gatherings and the league office and clubs are also consulting with local and regional health officials.
“Once we are comfortable we can get the players with three to four weeks of training and we have the guidance that we can get crowds back into our stadiums, then we will then begin the relaunch of our season,” Garber said.
In the meantime, Garber said there are discussions on ways to keep the league’s passionate fans engaged.
“Can we play something that might be fun and exciting during the postponement period that might be very, very different, whether it is unique and fun ideas or more competitive concepts?” he said. “We are working hard to put the ideas in place.”
Garber said he feels for those fans who are “so deeply connected with their clubs,” and the collective response from MLS and other major leagues across North America and the world is an “important statement of the power of sport.”
“Whether that is soccer or any other sport, all coming together to have a very, very strong and powerful voice to ensure that people are staying home, that they’re staying safe, that they’re staying clean and prioritizing the things that really matter, which is social distancing and also connecting to family and loved ones,” Garber said.