MLS suspends season for 30 days due to coronavirus

Major League Soccer has suspended its season for 30 days in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.

On March 11, MLS postponed games in Seattle and San Jose, which were scheduled for March 21 due to localized issues. The league also mandated that its teams take charter flights for road trips, among other measures, in an attempt to deal with the escalating public health crisis.

But now the league has moved further and followed the lead of the National Basketball Association by postponing all matches for the foreseeable future.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement: “Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees. We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

The eMLS Cup, which was due to take place at Austin’s South by Southwest conference, was indefinitely postponed earlier this month.

The United Soccer League also announced it will suspend the second-tier USL Championship for at least 30 days.

“It was very clear from our owners that the health and safety of players, fans and staff was their top priority,” said USL chief executive Alec Papadakis. “In consultation with local, state and national health authorities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security, we have temporarily suspended match play for a minimum of 30 days.”

Elsewhere, the USL suspended preseason activities and delayed the start of the USL League One season by a minimum of two weeks.  The third-tier National Independent Soccer Association has also suspended its season for 30 days.

Regional governing body Concacaf has also suspended the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, the United States Soccer Federation has decided to scrap four upcoming national team matches due to the coronavirus. The US men’s team were due to travel to Europe to play friendlies against Holland and Wales, while the women’s team were due to play exhibitions in the US against Australia and Brazil.

“With the health of our players, coaches, staff and fans as our main priority, US Soccer has decided it was in the best interest to cancel the majority of our upcoming domestic and international camps at all levels, including our senior Men’s and Women’s National Team games in March and April, due to the outbreak of COVID-19,” said US Soccer chief medical officer, George Chiampas. “We have been in communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local departments of public health, and after those conversations and continuously monitoring the situation, we strongly believe this is the best decision considering the ongoing worldwide health situation.”

US Soccer has also indefinitely postponed the 2020 SheBelieves Summit that was scheduled to take place in Chicago on March 14.

The Premier League has cancelled its Premier League Mornings Live Fan Fest, which was due to take place in Philadelphia on April 4-5. The National Women’s Soccer League said it was cancelling its pre-season schedule.

A planned international friendly between Greece and Costa Rica – which was scheduled to be held at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on March 29 – has been cancelled following a US Government ban on travel from European countries.