Report: MLS proposes June 22 return with 4-5 week tournament in Orlando
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Major League Soccer recently sent proposals to clubs and players detailing a plan to return June 22 with a four-to-five week competition, sources told The Athletic's Sam Stejskal.
The competition would be held in a hub city, with reports suggesting MLS has already identified Orlando as a strong candidate to host its 26 clubs.
The league is aiming for its squads to travel to and train in Florida beginning June 1. Players, coaches, and club staff would be "essentially quarantined" for that first week, but individual training sessions would be allowed. Training in small groups would begin in the second week before preparations step up with full sessions in the third.
Players would not be joined by their families in Orlando, Stejskal reports.
There is expected to be resistance to MLS' proposal. Players have been allowed to conduct individual training sessions at clubs' facilities since last week, but not all teams have opened their bases due to coronavirus-related restrictions from governments. That lack of preparation, followed by a small training window in Orlando before matches commence, could lead to fitness issues.
Problems are also anticipated due to the number of coronavirus tests that would be required. It's understood that at least 1,000 people would travel to Orlando and need to be tested at least twice a week. Additionally, other personnel connected to the event, such as hotel staff and broadcasters, would presumably be tested. Acquiring that many medical supplies could prove difficult for MLS and may cause wider unrest given the American public has generally struggled to obtain tests.
How the brief competition would shape up isn't entirely clear. Stejskal believes it would likely start with "some type of round-robin format followed by knockout matches and a consolation bracket that would ensure that all teams play the same number of games." MLS would also need to devise ways to make the games meaningful, such as a team's performance helping its standing in the regular season and potentially earning a CONCACAF Champions League berth.
Details are yet to surface on how the potential Orlando venture would cope if somebody tests positive for COVID-19. A two-week quarantine for a team during a four-to-five week tournament would be a potentially tricky logistical issue for MLS to overcome.