Teams that suffer a coronavirus outbreak during the MLS Cup playoffs could be forced out of the postseason altogether, sources told ESPN's Jeff Carlisle.
Major League Soccer's protocol for the playoffs reportedly states that it will make every effort to reschedule a match in which one or both of the teams are dealing with a spate of COVID-19 cases. However, if it is not possible to move a fixture, the coronavirus-stricken team will withdraw from the competition and its opponent will advance to the next round.
In the event that both teams have positive cases, the team with the highest points-per-game average during the regular season will progress.
MLS has little flexibility to reschedule games during its 22-day postseason window. Seventeen matches are slated to be played over that span, including the MLS Cup final Dec. 12.
MLS has dealt with numerous logistical issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. The regular season had to be placed on hiatus March 12, and FC Dallas and Nashville SC were removed from the MLS is Back Tournament - the return-to-play competition which ran in July and August - due to coronavirus outbreaks within their respective camps.
The pause of almost four months between the start of the campaign and the MLS is Back Tournament led MLS to adopt a modified, shortened format when the regular season restarted in August.
Since Sept. 25, MLS has canceled or postponed 11 matches due to COVID-19, primarily because of the Colorado Rapids' outbreak. The travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada also meant the league's three clubs from north of the border - the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps - had to play "home" games on American soil.