MLS plans for August season restart, MLS Cup in December

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Major League Soccer hopes to resume the regular season at the end of August and crown a 2020 champion in December, a league official told AFP on Friday (AFP Photo/Patrick Smith) (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File)

Miami (AFP) - Major League Soccer will try and resume its coronavirus-hit regular season in August with hopes of crowning a champion in December, league technical director Alfonso Mondelo told AFP on Friday.

MLS shut down the season in March after only two games for each team due to the COVID-19 pandemic and added three regular-season matches for most clubs in the group stage of this month's MLS is Back Tournament.

Knockout matches, which don't count to the season total, begin Saturday in the World Cup-style event in quarantine conditions at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with the final on August 11.

MLS hopes to resume the season at the end of August in home stadiums without spectators, Mondelo said, and complete 20-23 matches per club in the season, trimmed from the planned 34 before the deadly virus wiped out four months of the campaign.

"We're working with state governments to see how we can resume," Mondelo told AFP. "The idea is to start over at the end of August... so that we can reach November for the playoffs and that the MLS final can be held in the second week of December.

"The idea is there will be between 15 and 18 more from here to October so that you can reach between 20 and 23 regular season and then a few competitive playoffs."

MLS will continue to work on safety protocols to protect players when they return to team venues.

"We'll see the recommendations of the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and see what can be done," Mondelo said. "But we're not going to take any risks as the priority is the safety of players and the general public."

The league will have to figure out how to book extra games for Dallas and Nashville, who were dropped from the tournament before playing a game after multiple positive COVID-19 tests.