NEW YORK (August 8, 2020) – Major League Soccer today announced that following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, the league’s 25th season will continue in the home markets of the 26 clubs with the first game on August 12. The return to play in home markets will feature comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19.
Each club will play 18 additional regular season games in a phased approach, culminating with Decision Day on Sunday, Nov. 8. To make up the three matches missed from the tournament, FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play an additional three matches, against each other, with the first two games on Aug. 12 and 16 and a third game to be scheduled in the fall. In an expansion of the postseason for 2020, 18 clubs will compete in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs -- up from 14 teams last year. MLS Cup will be played on Dec. 12.
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, MLS announced the initial phase of the league’s revised schedule with each U.S. club playing six matches against other U.S. teams by Sept. 14.
Major League Soccer continues to work with the league’s three Canadian clubs regarding plans to continue the regular season. More details on schedules for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future.
MLS plans to announce the balance of the regular season schedule by early September as the league continues to work with infectious disease experts, league and club medical personnel, and government officials in all markets.
“I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament -- players, coaches, staff and partners -- for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets.”
As with the MLS is Back Tournament, COVID-19 testing protocols will again play an important role in MLS’ competition framework. MLS continues to work closely with the league’s infectious disease advisors as well as advisors for the MLSPA on the plan for testing. 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 match day. 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.
In addition to adhering to health, safety and medical protocols, another focus of the new schedule is efficient travel. Teams will take chartered flights, or buses, and for the majority of road trips will arrive in the host market on matchday and depart after the match later that evening.
The continuation of Major League Soccer’s 25th Season will air nationally in the U.S. on ESPN, FOX Sports and across Univision’s networks, as well as regionally through individual club broadcast partners. All matches not aired by an English-language national network will be streamed live in English on Twitter. Canadian broadcast schedules will be announced at a later date.
FOX Sports continues its coverage of the 2020 MLS regular season on Aug. 22, as the FOX Broadcast Network will air the El Trafico rivalry match that will see Los Angeles Football Club host crosstown rival LA Galaxy. During the first phase of the schedule, Univision’s flagship broadcast network will showcase Atlanta United vs. Orlando City SC match on Aug. 29. During the continuation of play, all regional broadcasts will be showcased nationally, out-of-market, on ESPN+.
At this time, the majority of the matches in local markets will be played without fans in attendance. MLS and club leadership are working with local health authorities and government officials on a plan for limited capacity at certain games where allowed.
- FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play twice – on Aug. 12 and Aug. 16 – before the other clubs kick off the continuation of their regular seasons. A third match will be played in Nashville later in the regular season.
- Clubs will each play six matches in phase one.
- The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will begin Nov. 20. Eighteen teams will compete in the Audi MLS Cup Playoff.
- 2020 expansion clubs Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC will play twice – Aug. 30 in Nashville and Sept. 6 in Miami.
- The continuation of regular season play will see six rivalries return to home markets as fans will be treated to the New York Derby on Thursday, Aug. 20, Texas Derby on Friday, Aug. 21, El Trafico and Inter Miami vs. Orlando City SC as well as the Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday, Aug. 22, and closing out with the Cascadia matchup of Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday, Aug. 23.
- The Hell is Real Derby will be played twice during the first phase of the schedule as FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC face off on Aug. 29 and Sept. 6.
Aug. 12 FC Dallas vs. Nashville SC at Toyota Stadium in Frisco
Nov. 8 Regular season ends on Decision Day
Nov. 20 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs begin
Dec. 12 MLS Cup
About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer – celebrating its 25th Season in 2020 – features 26 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, in addition to future expansion teams in Austin, St. Louis, Sacramento, and Charlotte. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.