Friday, May 22, 2020. 2:54 p.m.
The major soccer league, whose season has been suspended for more than two months because of the coronavirus, is developing a recovery plan in the form of a tournament involving its 26 franchises, behind closed doors in Orlando, Florida, several media reports on Friday .
MLS wants teams to go to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in June to resume group training, before starting the tournament in July.
According to ESPN and the site The Athletic, the format would be this: three groups of six teams and another of eight, the first two of each qualifying for the round of 16.
The details have yet to be finalized, according to these media which specify that the league and the players’ union must agree on the holding of this competition doomed to be televised.
According to ESPN, the players are concerned about the conditions inside the “bubble” and the prospect of being away from their families for 10 weeks.
The MLS sent the teams a plan including security protocols, limiting each delegation to 45 or even 47 people maximum.
Players and staff would be tested at COVID-19 three days before their departure. Those who test positive will not be allowed to travel.
The teams would then be quarantined at a hotel in this Orlando complex, also eyeing the NBA to end its season there. During a week, all would be subjected to medical examinations, temperature controls and other tests before the matches.
The defending champion Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles FC, the best team in the last regular season, are seeded to two groups of six Western Association teams.
The host of the tournament, Orlando, and Atlanta, winner of the 2019 United States Cup, or Toronto, would be the seeders of the Eastern Association, which would include a group of eight teams, Nashville moving d west to east to allow groups to be formed with an even number of clubs.
Each would play at least five games, the results of which would count toward the MLS season standings, suspended after just two days. MLS officials have not yet given up on the idea of resuming their championship later this year.
Direct elimination matches would not be counted for the season, however.