Minnesota United’s postponed home game against Chicago because of coronavirus now will be played Nov. 4 while another postponed at FC Dallas hasn’t been rescheduled and might never be.
The Loons are not alone in the scheduling challenges.
Seven Colorado Rapids games dating to September have been postponed because of an outbreak within players and staff in a league rethinking everything during a pandemic.
When the regular season ends with “Decision Day” on Nov. 8, not all 26 MLS teams will have played the same number of games — or the same number of home and away games. It’s an imbalance that will have the league contemplating formulas to adjust the standings and playoffs in the name of fairness.
On Friday, the Supporters’ Shield Foundation announced that it had reversed its decision not to award a silver platter that has been a league tradition since 1999 honoring the regular season’s best team.
It did so after reaction from supporters, coaches and players league caused it to reconsider. It decided after a week to present a Supporters’ Shield next month despite the imbalances and the fact there are no supporters at games here in the restarted regular season.
Loons coach Adrian Heath isn’t certain how the final standings that determine which teams are playoff-bound and which aren’t will play out. But he knows it is a subject of great debate.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think it’s something most clubs are talking about. I can’t see unless they extend the season and I’m not saying I heard this. I can’t see how Colorado is going to fit all its games in. It’s going to be virtually impossible, I think.”
The Loons very well could play 22 of their scheduled 23 regular-season games if the FC Dallas game isn’t rescheduled. If that happens and they have no more postponements, they will play two fewer games at home than away from Allianz Field.
The 2001 MLS regular season ended with teams not playing the same number of games after it was reconfigured because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It had minimal impact on the standings, and playoff seedings were determined by head-to-head competition rather than the traditional points method that awards three points for a victory and one for a draw in the regular season.
Loons veteran midfielder and MLS Players Association executive board member Ethan Finlay said he has “no inside knowledge” what the league will decide to do.
“Players are aware that points are going to be extremely important, whether they go points per game or however they decide to fix this thing,” Finlay said after Sunday’s 2-2 home draw with Houston. “It’s a crazy year. It has been crazy for everybody, so we have to worry about what we can control.”
Finlay called Sunday’s draw a “massively disappointing result here at home” for a team that has one victory and four draws in its past seven games.
The Loons’ 6-5-6 record places them fifth in the Western Conference. If the only determining factor became points earned per game, they’d still be in fifth place — tied with Dallas FC averaging 1.41 points per game — while Colorado would go from 11th place to fourth.
“I don’t think points per game is particularly fair for teams who had to play through Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday [schedules],” Heath said. “That isn’t fair. I’m glad I’m not the guy making that decision on what we do because obviously there’s going to be people who are pleased and people who are unhappy.
“It’s a strange, strange year.”
Heath said he agreed with the Supporters’ Shield Foundation’s initial decision not to award it this season.
“I thought it was a good decision for the simple reason you can’t have people having a completely uneven schedule,” Heath said
For his team that could have just five games remaining, Loons veteran striker Kei Kamara says there’s one thing to do: Just win, baby.
“It’s crunch time,” Kamara said. “You’ve got to win your games and maximize points because we want to be in the playoffs. That’s the only reason we’re still here. We have to maximize every point we get: Win every game we get here and try to sneak in a couple on the road.”