MLS shifts season start back as players given dates to return to clubs

February 15 – The new season of Major League Soccer (MLS) will kick off on April 17 instead of April 3, the league has announced. 

MLS players are now set to report to their clubs on March 1 for a seven-day quarantine period, medical exams and testing ahead of team training that will start March 8, said the MLS.

The new dates will give clubs six weeks of pre-season before the 2021 regular-season start. Pre-season training had been due to start on February 22.

Last week, the league and the players’ union finally concluded prolonged negotiations to ratify the Collective Bargaining Agreement that will govern their relationship over player wages until 2027, and preventing a potential lockout or strike before the new season’s kick-off.

“Major League Soccer announced an update to the start of the MLS regular season,” wrote MLS in a statement. “Following the ratification of the CBA on Feb. 8, the MLS regular season will now kick off on Saturday, April 17. MLS will announce the 2021 MLS regular season schedule in the coming weeks.”

Austin FC will became the latest franchise to play in the MLS this season. They will feature in the 14-team Eastern Conference. Thirteen clubs make up the Western Conference.

Other dates have been established for the regular as well, with  MLS Cup playoffs starting on November 19 and the MLS Cup final set to be held on December 11 to wrap up the 2021 season.

Last season was concluded behind closed doors, but the MLS remains hopeful that fans could return to stadiums at some point in 2021 with the US ramping up its vaccination rollout.

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