Major League Soccer is looking to play as much of the regular season as possible, but matches might not be able to go on in Los Angeles.
Not until 2021, that is.
LA mayor Eric Garcetti told CNN on Wednesday that events comprising of large amounts of people, like sporting affairs or concerts, may not return in the city until 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to such gatherings across in Los Angeles and around the globe in recent weeks, as government officials and leaders attempt to mitigate the spread of the novel virus.
“It’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands any time soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year,” Garcetti told CNN. “I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly, but until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science.
“Public health officials have made very clear we have miles and miles to walk before we can be back in those environments.”
If LA ultimately goes the route of not having large-gathering events until next year, it would have a major impact on Major League Soccer’s decision-making for the 2020 regular season. MLS is trying to play as much of the remainder of the campaign as is possible this year, and as such is considering a number of options that include finishing the season out at neutral sites.
Such a scenario may be required if LAFC is not permitted to host matches at Banc of California Stadium again this year, and if the state of California follows the lead of its largest city, which would impact the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.
MLS issued a statement on Wednesday admitting that its goal of returning to action in mid-May was “extremely unlikely”, with an ESPN report suggesting the league is set to move its targeted return date to June 8.
LAFC played both of the first two MLS matchdays of the 2020 campaign at home, defeating expansion side Inter Miami before tying the Philadelphia Union.