With rumors swirling about how MLS could restart its season and emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, LA Galaxy president Chris Klein confirmed some reports and made it clear that uncertainty still prevails.
Klein spoke to season ticket members during a “Virtual Town Hall” hosted by the club last week, and he was quite candid about the situation as of that moment.
First, he confirmed the widely reported proposal to restart the season, a short centralized tournament.
“We’re currently looking at — I’m sure you’ve all read — a tournament format, possibly in Orlando, to start our season off. We have to get the first step to get started. And so we’re spending most of our time looking at that,” Klein said.
But, with news like California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announcing pro teams could play behind closed doors in the state as soon as next month, Klein admitted it’s a moving target and the situation remains up in the air.
“We’re looking with the league and the rest of the clubs at really trying to get what is the safest, surest route to get back to play?” he said. “At least until now, that is in one location, all the players and all the staff being quarantined and let’s get started. But like you all we continue to learn everyday. Our governor came out last week and said he can see us host sporting events without fans in the beginning of June. So we’re looking to get the foot in the door, get started, and then hopefully we can progress from there.”
Because the reopening out of the shutdown is piecemeal around North America, Klein said the centralized tournament is likely to be the preferred format, although the Galaxy hope they will be able to play at Dignity Health Sports Park this year.
“Unless something dramatically changes, that is the way that we’re at least planning to start. It would be to possibly start in one location, come back to our home venue, without all of you in person, but hopefully watching on TV or on your phone or on your tablet. And then I’m still hopeful we’re going to have games with you all in our stadium this year. We can’t guarantee that, we don’t know what this is going to look like in a week or a month or two months, but I’m still hopeful that we’re able to do that.”
“We looked at this with the league, and there was a certain sense if we were going to one location, could we achieve both? Could we have a tournament, where you have a certain number of games that counted toward the regular season, but that still had something to play for, something to try and win. The rationale of doing that instead of resuming games and the regular season is because we think this is the quickest route to get back into play. If all of our venues were open to play behind closed doors I think that would be a first step, but it’s just not something we can forecast and guarantee at this point.”
Klein confirmed the proposal for all teams to play five games that would count in the regular season in the tournament, followed by a quick knockout tournament to cap off the centralized competition, before hopefully moving back to playing in home venues.
“I think the easiest answer about the tournament is we’re likely to get five games, regular season games in the tournament, and then a quarterfinal, semifinal, final. And we hope to get as many regular-season games in as we can after that. We are one of the leagues that is fortunate in that we were at the beginning of our season, and so we can still fit at least a majority of our season in, even if we don’t start until the middle of August. We still don’t have an idea of how many games that will be, but we’re hoping it’s most, if not all the season.”
One season ticket holder had a fantastic question about TV rights for this centralized tournament. Klein’s answer said it wasn’t decided but the games sound like they’ll be widely available, although he didn’t confirm the national TV broadcasters would therefore carry the games.
“Our guess is you’ll be able to see all of our games. We’re still working through a lot of details but one of the most important things that we have when you all can’t be in-stadium watching us is that you can watch us on TV, that you can watch us streaming live, because we know the connection all of you have to us and we know you want to see our guys back on the field and playing,” Klein said.
So there you have it. You can watch the full “Virtual Town Hall” below.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.