By Kim Margolis
Major League Soccer has confirmed that the Union will play the first game of their resumed regular season on Aug. 21 at the New England Revolution.
They will play their first home game of the restart on Aug. 25 against the New York Red Bulls.
The latter game will be the Union’s first home contest of the year after two road games in March before the coronavirus pandemic began.
The league’s 26 teams will each play 18 games, with the first between FC Dallas and Nashville set for Wednesday. Dallas and Nashville will play three games against each other, having been forced to withdraw from the MLS is Back tournament because of COVID-19 cases.
A majority of games will be played without fans because of local regulations. Teams will be subject to a rigorous testing protocol and will use charter flights or buses.
“We believe we have a good plan, we believe our players and our staff are focused on adhering to our protocols, and if we’re able to do that, we ought to be able to get our games in,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Saturday during a conference call. “And if we can’t do that in a way that’s safe, and one that’s ensuring the health of our players, we’ll have to address it.”
MLS continues to work with the Canadian teams because of travel restrictions. The Canadian teams — Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver — have not been included in the first phase of the schedule.
The plan comes as coronavirus cases and deaths mount across the country. Nearly 5 million people have contracted COVID-19 and 161,000 have died.
The monthlong MLS is Back tournament has been played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World. The championship match is set for Tuesday between the Portland Timbers and Orlando City.
Players and team personnel have been sequestered in two Disney resorts for the duration of the tournament, which started July 8. The group stage matches counted toward the regular season.
MLS suspended the season March 12 because of the pandemic after teams had played two games each. Celebrating its 25th season, the league had added two expansion teams this year, Nashville and Inter Miami.