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Major League Soccer says playing full season now looks 'extremely unlikely’

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake midfielder Damir Kreilach (8) nails a shot into Portland Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark (12) as Portland Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala (33) moves in as Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers play in their first MLS playoff game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

It looks like Real Salt Lake and the rest of Major League Soccer won’t be playing a full 34-game season.

The league announced Tuesday that while it hoped it could return to playing games in Mid-May, that timeline has now become “extremely unlikely.” MLS most recently extended its hiatus until at least May 10, following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Our goal remains to play as many games as possible, and 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 league said in a statement.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber told ESPN this week that the uncertainty of the season has led to him thinking of alternate ways to resume games. He’s thought of everything from tournaments at neutral sites to shortening the season. When games do come around, he said, they’d likely be without fans.

RSL coach Freddy Juarez said recently that the league has been careful about releasing a point-of-no-return date. He added that as far as he’s heard, the entire season could still be played if it resumed in July.

But that would mean several weeks of playing three games in seven days, which could put players at a higher risk of injury.

Juarez also said he’s heard rumors of a condensed season or teams playing only within their conferences.

“Honestly, I think they [the league] have been very tight-lipped of the things they want to say so they don’t get ahead of themselves,” Juarez said.

Now that the league acknowledged playing the full 34-game schedule is in jeopardy, the solutions Juarez mentioned could come to fruition.

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