MLS May Return in June with 26-Team Tournament | Athletic Business

MLS May Return in June with 26-Team Tournament

Major League Soccer has reportedly sent a proposal to its 26 clubs that would bring the league back from its coronavirus shutdown with training and a tournament in Orlando, Fla.

According to ESPN, the plan calls for players and coaches to gather at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for a training session scheduled to begin on June 1, with a tournament three or four weeks later (without fans present).

In order to proceed, the plan needs approval from the MLS Players Association, which is reportedly in the midst of salary negotiations. The current league salary proposal asks for a 20 percent across-the-board cut, along with unspecified monetary concessions.

“This community is ready to do it, and Orlando is the perfect city to hold an event like that,” Orlando City Soccer Club coach Oscar Pareja told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. “Based on the experience, the infrastructure, everything. Orlando has everything to hold it. So if the league decides so … I think it will be a great decision to bring it here.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled his support for the plan, saying during a news conference that if the league wants to play matches in Florida, “do it.”

The tournament format wasn’t solidified, but ESPN reports that one proposal would divide teams into groups, with each team playing five games during the group stage. Afterward, a knockout stage with consolation games would proceed, providing each team the same number of matches.

Still, the proposed tournament could present a logistical challenge — ESPN reports that testing for COVID-19 would need to take place not just among players, coaches and team staff, but among hotel staff, as well. The league would also need to have contingency plans if someone connected to the event tested positive for the disease.

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