While Major League Soccer announced the first phase of a return to in-market play on Saturday, the league’s three Canadian clubs — the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps — are still in flux regarding their restart of the 2020 season.
The plan, according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, is for the three teams to play each other as part of a follow-up process to get approval on overall return to play in Canada.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to receive that approval and satisfy questions and concerns [Canadian authorities] have, then we could receive approval for what the future of that might be in phase two,” Garber said in a conference call with reporters Saturday “That’s work that has not been completed. The first phase is to have them return to train and the second phase is approval for them to play against each other north of the border in Canada.”
Impact president Kevin Gilmore said ideally his team would play all of its home games at Stade Saputo, but Montreal are “looking at all different things on parallel tracks.”
“Honestly we have things going on in three or four different tracks right now, talking to the league and our Canadian counterparts on a daily basis to make sure we do everything we can to maximize the number of games we play, which is obviously this return to play scenario,” Gilmore said in a call with reporters Saturday. “But also maximize the number of home games we get to play in market.”
Gilmore said one of the considerations has to be potentially playing “home” games at a venue in the US in phase two of the season’s restart.
“Are US clubs going to be unable to come to Canada for the remainder of the year? I can’t answer that question, but I’d speculate with the NHL and NBA coming back you’d probably see willingness under certain conditions to allow US teams to come in here,” Gilmore said. “If we happen to be at the forefront of that, great, but we have to plan on parallel tracks, that we’re playing all of our home games in Montreal, that we’re playing the start of our return to market schedule in Montreal and then possibly playing some of those 'home games' in the US with the possibility of coming back to Montreal once it opens up.”