MLS commissioner Don Garber joined Nashville SC television analyst Jamie Watson on the club's official YouTube channel for an interview on Thursday, giving his thoughts on a variety of topics related to the league's potential return to play in 2020.
While things remain uncertain at this juncture while the world attempts to continue flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, Garber said the league's thinking regarding how to return to the field this year has evolved in the last month, making him more hopeful than he was previously about playing how the 2020 season might play out.
"We're more optimistic about what a return to play plan could look like," Garber said. "I think a month ago we were very pessimistic. I think our country has done a pretty good job of flattening the curve, which is what the objective was. We need to be mindful of and focused on continuing to follow local guidelines because flattening the curve requires us all to be very focused and committed to all the guidelines local health authorities set out. So I would say we're cautiously optimistic."
Garber also commented on the MLS teams that were able to return to individual training sessions on Wednesday, as players from several clubs were cleared to retake the practice field under heavy distancing and safety restrictions. The commissioner said that so far the feedback he's received on the sessions has been positive and that the hope is that they represent the start of a gradual return to regular full-team training — although a timeline for that is impossible to project under the current circumstances.
"I think every player and every club that has been able to get back to individual training has been very pleased," Garber said. "There was a lot of coverage as we were one of the first leagues to be able to do that. That's not anything that matters much in the big swing of things, but you have to remember we only played two games of our season. We have a whole year ahead of us to try to get games in, get players back into shape, figure out what our plan will be for a broader return to training and then ultimately what will the rest of 2020 look like? It is too premature to talk about that, but obviously there is a lot of planning going into what those scenarios would possibly be throughout the league."
You can watch Garber's full interview with Watson below.