Major League Soccer revealed the schedule for the first phase of the return of the 25th season in home markets. As was the case during the MLS is Back Tournament, the continuation of the season will feature comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19.
The revised schedule will see each team will play an additional 18 regular-season games, in a phased approach. The first phase will consist of most teams playing six matches against regional opponents through Sept. 14. The exception to this is FC Dallas and Nashville SC: They will play an additional three games to make up for those missed after they were withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament.
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, Major League Soccer is working 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.
The regular season will culminate on Decision Day on Nov. 8, and the league aims to release the remainder of the schedule in early September.
Schedule by Club
FC Dallas and Nashville SC
To make up for the games they missed after being withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament, FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play three additional games, against each other. The two teams will face off in the first game of the resumption of the 2020 regular season on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, and again at the same location on Aug. 16. A third game between the sides will be played in Nashville at a later date in the regular season.
Audi MLS Cup Playoffs
A total of 18 clubs will qualify for the postseason in 2020, up from 14 last year. The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will begin on Nov. 20, culminating with MLS Cup on Dec. 12.
Health and safety protocol
MLS is continuing to work closely with the league’s infectious disease advisors as well as advisors for the MLS Players Association 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 matchday. 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.
Teams will take chartered flights, or buses, and for the majority of road trips they will arrive in the host market on matchday and depart after the match later in the day.
At this time, the majority of the matches 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.
One of the highlights of the revised schedule is four straight days of rivalry action, beginning with the New York Derby on Aug. 20 and the Texas Derby on Aug. 21. El Trafico (LA vs LAFC), the Florida rivalry (Inter Miami vs. Orlando City SC) as well as the Rocky Mountain Cup (RSL vs. Colorado) will be played on Aug. 22. The Cascadia matchup between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC takes place on Sunday, Aug. 23.
The Hell is Real Derby between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC will be played twice during the first phase of the schedule on Aug. 29 and Sept. 6.
Where to watch
The continuation of the season will air nationally in the U.S. on ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision platforms, as well as regionally through individual club broadcast partners. All national TV matches not aired by an English-language network will be streamed live in English on Twitter. All regional broadcasts will be showcased out-of-market on ESPN+ in the U.S.
Canadian broadcast schedules will be announced at a later date.