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MLS extends suspension, eyes playing MLS Cup in December

The league is considering playing the 2020 MLS Cup in December and is still committed to playing a full season

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced the extension of the league's suspension of games to eight weeks. (AP Photo / Richard Drew)

Major League Soccer extended the temporary suspension of its season to May 10, is still committed to playing a full season and is examining the possibility of holding MLS Cup in December. 

The hiatus extension comes after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention outlined new guidelines earlier this week on limiting mass gatherings of more than 50 people to eight weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The original suspension was supposed to last until at least April 11. 

Every game that was supposed to occur before the suspension is expected to be rescheduled. MLS was in its third match week when the decision was made to halt the season. 

“In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to postpone events involving more than 50 people over the next eight weeks, Major League Soccer has extended the postponement of its matches during this period of the time,” the league said in a statement. “MLS remains focused on playing the entire 2020 season and is evaluating all options, including pushing back the end of the season and playing MLS Cup in December, as the league did prior to the 2019 season.

“The league is also identifying other available dates. Throughout the process, MLS will continue to prioritize the safety of our fans, players, employees and partners and to coordinate with federal and local public health authorities as well as other sporting organizations.”

MLS joins other leagues around the U.S. and around the world who have decided to extend their temporary suspensions of seasons. The USL announced on Wednesday it was extended its suspension of the USL Championship and USL League One through at least May 10

In previous seasons, the MLS Cup was played in December, but it changed last season when the league moved it up to November, ahead of the FIFA window to avoid a break in the playoff schedule. 

That was the plan again this year with the start of the season moved up to the beginning of February as two new expansions clubs, Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF, joined the league. 

COVID-19, the name of the disease, has changed things dramatically for MLS, which is in its 25th season. 

MLS commissioner Don Garber released a letter Sunday urging fans to take the necessary precautions to stay safe and be patient as the league deals with the outbreak. He encouraged fans to continue to support the league during the original 30-day hiatus that was set forth by the league. 

“During this rapidly changing time, we will take every necessary precaution, and I ask you to do the same,” Garber stated in his letter. “This moment in our history transcends sport. It is a time for all of us to come together and take care of each other. Your support has always meant everything to us, but never more so than now.”

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