Major League Soccer said Tuesday that it’s “extremely unlikely” the league will resume play in mid-May, the target it set when it suspended operations before the season’s third week in March.
In a statement Tuesday, MLS said its goal remains “to play as many games as possible” despite the stoppage stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. “While we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so,” the statement said.
The league also said it learns more daily from medical experts and expects to have “additional details in the coming weeks regarding when we can return to play.”
MLS suspended its season March 19 after two opening weeks of games. It said it was following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that no public gatherings of more than 50 people be held for the next eight weeks.
Last month Minnesota United suspended season-ticket holder payments due April 1 until May 1. It informed season-ticket holders by email, saying, “We also know your lives have been turned upside. This really is a situation unlike any we’ve ever been through.”
The team has continued to pay players and full-time staff and sent e-mails regularly to game-day workers financially hurt by the league’s suspension when it said it still expected to play all 34 scheduled games per team.
Minnesota United had postponed all games through May 9 at Orlando.
Loons players are waiting this out, isolated and training at home, uncertain when there will be soccer again this season.
The league also has a moratorium on teams’ training through April 24. Players are not allowed to work out at their team’s facility unless they’re rehabilitating an injury under their athletic trainer’s supervision.
All Loons players have been told not to leave their market unless they apply individually to leave by car for another destination.
Goalkeeper Tyler Miller discussed the situation on Monday before MLS’ latest statement was released Tuesday.
“We really don’t know at this time,” Miller said. “It just depends when we’re actually able to get back to training and play. It depends which month we get back to playing and how creatively MLS can get making the schedule work, finding a way that makes sense for players and the league.”
Miller said it’ll take players at least three weeks to train their way back into shape for a season that started with the Loons winning road games at Portland and San Jose. Play was suspended before their scheduled home opener March 15.
“You can’t play a ton of games in a short amount of time,” Miller said. “It’s not healthy for players. Hopefully, when we have a better idea when we can get back, we can find something that works for both players and the league. It’ll be really beneficial to give us something to play for this season.”
Meanwhile, Miller stays in his Minneapolis apartment by himself as much as possible. He has tried to stay fit by running and does weekly yoga and strength-and-conditioning workouts by video calls.
“It hasn’t been easy this past month,” Miller said. “We recognize how necessary it is and how fortunate we are. We’re employed. We’re getting paid. The best we can do is do our part and realize this is much bigger than soccer. Everybody has to contribute collectively to slow down the virus, find ways to stay indoors and also be productive around the house.”
With no scheduled games in sight, Miller will virtually represent his team in the only way left: He will play for the Loons in a five-week, single-elimination eMLS Tournament Special, featuring players competing in EA Sports FIFA 20 video game and each team’s eMLS pros as well. The tournament, which begins Sunday and will crown a champion May 17, benefits food banks in the United States and Canada.
Games will be televised on Fox Sports, FSI and Fox Deportes. Miller and the Loons’ eMLS player Jay Adams open April 26 against Sporting Kansas City.
“It’s a great opportunity to give people who are longing for sports something to watch,” Miller said.