MLS lays out tentative return to regular season play following tournament

Real Salt Lake defender Aaron Herrera (22) and Minnesota United midfielder Robin Lod (17) battle for the ball during the first half of a soccer match in Kissimmee, Fla., Friday, July 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Major League Soccer might just come back with a regular season after its monthlong tournament ends.

The league plans to resume its 2020 season in late August, with teams playing 18 games — nine at home, nine on the road — wiithin their own conferences, The Salt Lake Tribune confirmed Saturday. The Athletic first reported details of the league’s plan Friday.

The season would start Aug. 22 and go through two phases — six games in Phase 1, the remaining 12 in Phase 2, per The Athletic. The three teams in Canada will only play each other in the first phase due to the current travel restrictions in the country.

FC Dallas and Nashville, which had to withdraw from the MLS is Back tournament due to COVID-19 outbreaks in their ranks, will play three games to make up for ones lost in the tournament that counted toward the regular season standings, per The Athletic and the Nashville Tennessean.

Playoffs are slated for November and December, the Tribune confirmed. The Athletic reported that the knockout-style postseason would begin Nov. 20, with the MLS Cup final slated for Dec. 12.

The current plan is considered tentative, per the Athletic.

“It’s nice to see that there [are] plans to move forward after this tournament,” Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman said Saturday. “We haven’t really looked too far ahead. Right now, it’s let’s get through this tournament and then see where we go from there. But that they do have already plans in place to kind of move forward is a good thing for the league, good thing for the players and fans. So hopefully that’s the case.”

The MLS is Back tournament just entered its knockout phase, which starts Saturday evening. The tournament final is Aug. 11, which is just 11 days before the proposed resumption of the regular season.