Garber more optimistic MLS can return from virus shutdown

New York (AFP) – With positive feedback from two days of individual workouts and states easing coronavirus lockdown rules, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber says he’s more optimistic about resuming the 2020 season.

Garber, speaking Thursday on the Nashville SC YouTube channel, says he is more hopeful that the league, which shut down in March after only two weeks of the campaign, can return despite the deadly virus pandemic.

«We’re more optimistic about what a return to play plan could look like,» Garber said. «I think a month ago we were very pessimistic. I think our country has done a pretty good job of flattening the curve, which is what the objective was.»

A timetable for such a return, however, and details on what a restart for the season might entail remain unsettled, Garber said.

«It’s too premature to talk about that, but obviously there is a lot of planning going into what those scenarios would possibly be throughout the league,» Garber said.

Updates from health experts and changes in stay-at-home regulations from state and local governments will also play a role in what MLS does.

«We need to be mindful of and focused on continuing to follow local guidelines because flattening the curve requires us all to be very focused and committed to all the guidelines local health authorities set out,» Garber said.

«So I would say we’re cautiously optimistic.»

Players from several teams have conducted individual workouts on fields at MLS team facilities for the past two days with major safety precautions and social distancing protocols in place.

Garber said the positive comments he has heard from the solo sessions could represent the first small step to full-team training, but again had no timeline for when such a move might be made.

«I think every player and every club that has been able to get back to individual training has been very pleased,» Garber said.

«We have a whole year ahead of us to try to get games in, get players back into shape, figure out what our plan will be for broader return to training and then, ultimately, what will the rest of 2020 look like.»