In response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, MLS has announced that it is immediately suspending its season for 30 days.
Declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, coronavirus—or COVID-19—is raising alarms around the United States as more and more cases and deaths are reported. MLS had already seen parts of its schedule affected by the ongoing response to coronavirus, with both the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC announcing on Wednesday the postponements of their respective March 21 home matches.
The league has now opted to suspend the season for 30 days, with the stop in play immediately taking effect upon Thursday’s announcement. In a statement, MLS said it will continue to work with its medical task force and public health officials to assess the ongoing impact of COVID-19. An announcement on the continuation of play, along with the status of league events, will be made at an “appropriate time,” according to Thursday’s announcement:
Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials.
At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events.
“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”
The Sounders’ postponement of their March 21 match came after Washington governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a ban in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties on gatherings larger than 250 people through at least the end of March. Meanwhile, the Earthquakes were expected to be affected after Santa Clara County issued a mandatory ban on mass gatherings of 1,000 people or more through the end of March, announcing that policy Monday after the death of a county resident who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
MLS is not the first major sports league in the United States to suspend play because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday, the NBA announced the suspension of its season until further notice after revealing that a player on the Utah Jazz—identified in other press reports as Rudy Gobert—preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19.