Update at 3:22 PM CST — No sooner do we hit publish than does the date change. The original story (which is included below) states play would resume June 22nd but now Sam Stejskal is hearing July 1st as the start of return to play in this current plan.
According to a couple of people I've spoken to since this was published, it's more likely that games would begin around July 1 than June 22. Start date of June 1 still the same. Adds extra week of training before the start of games, which would be crucial if this gets off ground. https://t.co/0vvJcghOi0— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) May 13, 2020
Reporting from The Washington Post and The Athletic has rumors swirling that a plan is forming for Major League Soccer to return. And the plan doesn’t include playing in Kansas City with Sporting Kansas City as hosts, as was originally rumored. Instead, all 26 teams will report to Orlando, Florida to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
The Athletic is reporting that teams will report on June 1st and that play would begin on June 22nd. It would be a brief second preseason where training starts off with individual training for a week, followed by small group training and then full team practices.
Then the teams would play games for “four or five weeks.” Families wouldn’t be permitted and that would leave players in Orlando for about two months. How the games play out is unknown but round-robin games followed by a tournament and consolation bracket are candidates.
Regardless, the plan is to get teams to play the same number of games. They also hope to have the games count towards a regular season that would resume later in the year, but one assumes if there never is a regular season, the winner of this competition could be the league champ, at least in terms of CONCACAF spots. Then again, maybe the teams from the previously unfinished Champions League would just step back in for 2021 assuming a return to normalcy next year.
The report doesn’t say anything about what happens if anyone contracts the coronavirus. Obviously, there will need to be a plan in place. And lots and lots of testing.
Right now it would seem the major hold up could be talks between the MLS and the MLSPA. The players would have to agree to these terms. According to Sam Stejskal, the new CBA which was agreed to during 2020 preseason “hasn’t been ratified.” Players are currently being asked to take a 20 percent pay cut across the board per ESPN but that would be better than potentially getting nothing further if the owners lock out the players and don’t ratify the CBA. It was previously reported the players are currently being paid.
There is also the question of if games should be happening at all. I’ll leave that for another time and another person. It’s oddly become very political to be on one side or the other so I’ll let others wade into that territory.
Matt Besler was on the Border Patrol and weighed in on the subject as well. He confirmed the proposal is real.
“I can talk about the Orlando thing,” Besler started. “It is real. It’s a real proposal. As of now it seems to be the best proposal or option that we have as a group to return to playing games. But the tough thing is, how do we make it work? We are on calls right now with the union and the league on a daily basis just trying to figure out ways to make it work.”
Besler lays it out in more detail in the full interview.
Peter Vermes had press availability yesterday where he discussed the current state of the league, practice and potentially testing players. More on that coming from The Blue Testament very soon.