Major League Soccer announced Saturday its plans to resume the regular season by returning to local markets following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament.
Orlando City and the Portland Timbers are scheduled to meet in the championship match on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 8:30 p.m.
The Lions will then resume the 2020 regular season, playing six matches (three home and three away) beginning on the road on Saturday, Aug. 22 against Inter Miami at 8 p.m.
Orlando City returns to Exploria Stadium on Aug. 26 when it hosts Nashville SC at 7:30 p.m.
At the moment, all games will be played closed-doors, but that could change.
“The club is also exploring the possibility of opening matches to a limited number of fans, which could see the venue operate at a reduced capacity in order to adhere to social distancing and safety guidelines. More information will be available at a later date, pending authorities’ approval,” Orlando City said in a news release.
The six matches scheduled to be played after the MLS is Back Tournament are part of Phase One of MLS’s plans to resume the 2020 regular season.
For Orlando City, the 2020 regular season came to a halt after week two because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down the league on March 12.
Nearly four months later, Major League Soccer’s returned with the MLS is Back Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney with the first three group stage matches being counted towards the regular-season standings.
With the regular season resuming later this month, MLS announced up to 18 additional matches will be played, beginning with Phase One and the announcement of a complete balanced schedule, expected by early September.
In all, the 2020 regular season will consist of 23 games — two pre-COVID, three during the MLS is Back Tournament, and 18 regular-season games following the competition in Disney World.
Part of the 2020 regular season resuming includes a new-look of the MLS Cup playoffs, which will feature 18 teams competing for the MLS Cup on Dec. 12.
The regular season will culminate on Sunday, Nov. 8.
Health and Safety
COVID-19 testing will be a reoccurring thing for all teams once the regular season resumes.
“All clubs are forming testing partnerships with a local certified lab, and all players, technical staff, and essential club staff will be tested every other day, including the day before each matchday,” MLS said in a statement. “Also, guidelines will be provided to players, coaches and essential staff to avoid the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 during their time away from club facilities.”
MLS also announced all teams will travel via chartered flights or buses. Visiting teams will travel on matchday and leave back to their markets shortly after their games.
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