Major League Soccer suspended its season for 30 days on Thursday, effective immediately, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“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,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”
On Wednesday, the Union strongly encouraged fans to come to Subaru Park for their home opener Saturday night. That stance came before the NBA suspended its season. Now MLS headquarters has made the final decision for the Union and the rest of the league.
A Union statement said the team “is in full support of Major League Soccer’s decision.” The team said concerned fans can contact the team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of now, five Union games are off: Saturday vs. the San Jose Earthquakes, March 22 vs. D.C. United, March 28 at the Portland Timbers, April 5 at Inter Miami and April 11 vs. the Montreal Impact.
U.S. men’s and women’s national team games scheduled for March and April have been canceled. The senior men were to play at the Netherlands on March 26 and Wales on March 30. The women were to host Australia in suburban Salt Lake City on April 10, and host Brazil in San Jose, Calif., on April 14. Youth national team camps scheduled through the end of April have also been canceled.
U.S. Soccer said all tickets bought to the two women’s games through direct sources will be fully refunded. Fans who have bought tickets through secondary outlets should contact those outlets.
The USL, which runs multiple lower-division leagues in the U.S., suspended games in the second-tier USL Championship for 30 days. That affects at least three games for the Union’s reserve team in the league: Saturday at North Carolina FC, March 28 at the Charleston Battery and April 3 vs. Atlanta United 2. The April 12 game vs. Indy Eleven falls on the first day outside the 30-day window, so it might also be affected.
USL League One, in the third tier of American soccer, delayed the start of its season by two weeks. A separate third-tier league, the National Independent Soccer Association, suspended games for 30 days.
The Athletic reported that the USL office told the U.S. Soccer Federation that USL teams intend to not play in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, in order to accommodate rescheduled league games. On Friday, U.S. Soccer announced a temporary suspension of the Open Cup, which has game windows March 24-25, April 7-9 and April 21-23.
The NWSL canceled its preseason games, which were to start in a few days, and Sky Blue FC canceled two upcoming events for fans. The regular season is still scheduled to kick off April 18, marking the start of new three-year broadcast deals with CBS and Twitch.
At the youth level, the U.S. Soccer Development academy — which has many teams in the Philadelphia area — suspended all operations through the end of April. Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has suspended all activity through the end of March.
Concacaf has suspended its Champions League. There were quarterfinal games Tuesday and Wednesday, and Los Angeles FC was to host Mexico’s Cruz Azul on Thursday. The Athletic reported that the confederation’s men’s Olympic qualifying tournament, which starts March 20, will not take place as scheduled, but that is not official yet.
The Union’s Mark McKenzie, Brenden Aaronson and Matt Freese are on the U.S. Olympic qualifying squad.
“We are continuing to discuss arrangements for other upcoming Concacaf competitions and will make a further public statement in due course,” the confederation said in its statement announcing the Champions League suspension.
In South America, FIFA and confederation governing body CONMEBOL jointly announced that World Cup qualifiers scheduled for late March have been postponed, with no new date announced. CONMEBOL has also suspended the Copa Libertadores continental club tournament.
In Europe, Champions League and Europa League games have been played behind closed doors this week in many countries. UEFA stopped all of next week’s games in continental competitions, after Manchester City-Real Madrid and Juventus-Lyon were already postponed.
UEFA, the continent’s governing body, is set to meet Tuesday to make formal decisions on this season and this summer’s European Championship, which is to be played in 12 cities across the continent.
Italy’s government suspended all sports on Monday, including Serie A soccer. Two days later, a player from Italian superpower Juventus tested positive for coronavirus.
On Thursday, France’s soccer federation suspended all of the country’s leagues and Spain’s La Liga stopped for at least two round of games. Real Madrid players were quarantined because one of the club’s basketball players (the Real Madrid organization runs teams in multiple sports) tested positive for coronavirus
Both clubs’ players and staffs are self-quarantining -- including Chelsea’s Hershey-born U.S. national team star Christian Pulisic -- and the teams’ training centers are being cleaned.
Germany’s Bundesliga wasn’t suspended itself until just four hours before the weekend’s first game, after wanting to play behind closed doors. Bundesliga officials were heavily criticized by players and politicians for not suspending sooner.
“This is crazy. Please stop fooling around and land on reality,” Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara wrote on Twitter. “Let’s be honest, there are much more important priorities than any sport.”
In the German second division, two players from Hannover 96 and one from Nuremberg have tested positive.