WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that the regular season will resume next week with most of the games to be played in empty venues.
MLS suspended the season on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic after teams had played two games each. The league restarted with the 'MLS is Back' Tournament which is being played in Orlando, Florida.
The tournament appeared in danger in July when Dallas and Nashville had to drop out after many of their players tested positive for the COVID-19. Apart from those two teams there have been only two confirmed positive tests; one from Sporting Kansas City and one from Columbus. Now the tournament is headed to the championship game next Tuesday when the Portland Timbers face Orlando City.
After the final, the regular season will resume on Wednesday with Dallas playing against Nashville in the first game, the league said.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said: "We believe we have a good plan, and we believe our players and our staff are focused on adhering to our protocols and if we're able to do that we should be able to get our games in. If we can't do that in a way that's safe and one that's ensuring the health of our players, then we'll have to address it. If it doesn't work, then we won't move forward."
As was the case during the MLS is Back Tournament, the regular season will feature comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19. Each team will play an additional 18 regular-season games and the games will be played in a home-and-away format with most of them played in empty venues.
"We understand that getting back to play is going to have some challenges," Garber said. "We're aware of those challenges, we're prepared for it, understanding that it's not going to be easy. We know that we might have issues that are going to disrupt us and force us to postpone games. We're aware of the need to be flexible, and we are aware that we're entering a new normal for our industry."