From League release:
NEW YORK (January 25, 2021) – Major League Soccer today announced the 2021 MLS season will begin on Saturday, April 3 and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs. MLS’ 26th regular season will conclude on MLS Decision Day, November 7, and the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will begin November 19. MLS Cup will be played on Saturday, December 11.
Clubs will be permitted to open preseason training on February 22, six weeks prior to MLS is Back opening weekend. In accordance with MLS health and safety protocols, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual trainings upon reporting back to their clubs.
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, Major League Soccer continues to work with the league’s three Canadian clubs regarding plans for the 2021 regular season. More details on plans for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future.
Similar to the 2020 MLS season, COVID-19 testing protocols will again play an important role in MLS’ competition framework. MLS continues to work closely with the league and MLSPA’s infectious disease advisors on health and safety protocols, including testing. During the regular season, all players, technical staff and essential club staff will continue to be tested every other day, including the day before each match day. In addition, clubs will take chartered flights for all road trips until further notice.
MLS continues to meet with the Major League Soccer Players Association and players to discuss working together to put MLS on a secure footing given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. On January 5 MLS presented the MLSPA with a proposal that committed to paying the players 100% of their salaries this year, in return for a two-year extension of the MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement. The MLSPA provided a response to the league’s proposal January 23. Although no agreement has been reached, MLS is committed to meet as many times as necessary with the MLSPA in the coming days to finalize an agreement.
Major League Soccer will announce the complete 2021 regular season schedule, including the national broadcast schedule for the league’s media partners in the U.S. and Canada, in the coming weeks.
Lot goin on there. It’s nice to have a target date – albeit pushed back a bit from the expected weekend in mid-March – and that probably indicates a little bit of confidence in getting a CBA over the line (or, more cynically, an attempt to pin any delays on the Players Association and push blame away from the league). I didn’t include the conference lists because we’ve already known the outcome there – Nashville to the East, Austin the West – and some other minutiae that aren’t directly relevant.
We shall see how CBA and pandemic situations play out in the next four weeks before getting too confident that the expected timeline is locked in.