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Report: MLS could return with short tournament

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League also proposes players take pay cuts.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at LA Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A new report concerning the restart of MLS from the coronavirus shutdown claims the league could return to play with a centralized tournament.

The games would be competitive games, and would count in the league standings, with a championship round in the tournament itself and consolation games to ensure all teams play an equal number of games, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Noah Davis on Monday.

In addition, the winner of this tournament could get a berth to the next edition of the Concacaf Champions League, on the expectation that the U.S. Open Cup will not be played this year. While MLS doesn’t run the Open Cup, U.S. Soccer does, the domestic cup competition is in jeopardy in the current pandemic based on the mind-boggling logistics needed to bring together teams from disparate leagues at all levels of the American soccer pyramid.

It sounds as though this idea of a kickoff tournament for MLS is still in the discussions stage, although this is the third report in recent weeks claiming MLS is considering bringing all teams to one or two cities, with Orlando most often mentioned as a candidate city.

This news came in addition to information in the same ESPN report of the league asking players to take a 20 percent pay cut across the board. That process is still in negotiations and is apparently the latest offer after the league proposed 50 percent pay cuts, with the lowest earners in the league remaining untouched by the pay cuts.

Time will tell on the pay cut scenario — much of it will depend on how many games MLS teams end up playing the rest of the season. But the tournament seems to be crystallizing as a legitimate plan to restart the season, the big question remains whether conditions will improve and stabilize enough for teams to restart play. With teams beginning to train in individual settings — the LA Galaxy could jump into that fray in the coming days — and locales, including California, beginning to open up, we’re at the mercy of the coronavirus and surrounding policies to see if sports can restart. But MLS could come back with a bracket tournament, and we’ll let you know if we see developments in that department in the coming weeks.

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