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MLS extends suspension of play due to COVID-19 into June

D.C. United’s next possible game is now June 13 against FC Cincinnati

Caitlin Buckley / Black and Red United

April 24 update: MLS has pushed their moratorium on training to May 15, and with the league needing multiple weeks to get players back fit enough to play, it is safe to presume that there will be no league matches until at least June.

Major League Soccer has pushed its suspension of all games through to May, in line with the latest Centers for Disease Control guidance on large gatherings. With COVID-19 still rapidly spreading, MLS has effectively added another month to its shutdown.

The CDC issued their recommendation on gatherings over 50 people on March 15, which would run through May 10. For D.C. United, the earliest scheduled game following the end of the current suspension would be May 16’s home game against Orlando City.

For United, the suspension impacts the following games from the original schedule:

Nine games represents over 25% of the 34-game schedule MLS had planned before this outbreak began. MLS’s announcement says that they plan on playing all of those games, and are exploring the option of extending the end of the season from early October, with MLS Cup going back to December as it was played for most of the previous decade. Per the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, MLS has made no plans to play any games behind closed doors.

No announcement has yet been made about whether MLS teams will be able to participate in the U.S. Open Cup or the Leagues Cup, though the league will also face major difficulties in merely playing all of its regular season games at this point. Even adding another month to the end of the season would still leave MLS haing to schedule a slew of mid-week games, more or less taking up all of the windows in which those other competitions could be played.

MLS’s move comes a day after the USL Championship announced a suspension of play that covers the same span of time. That change impacts seven Loudoun United games, including the club’s planned home opener at Segra Field. The NWSL has not made an announcement yet beyond cancelling all originally-planned preseason games and suspending preseason training through this coming Sunday, March 22.