Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you’re gearing up for a soccer-filled weekend and beyond (UEFA Champions League AND the MiB final are set for the coming days).
Naturally, MLS is thinking beyond its new flagship tournament and is well on its way to firming up the details of the resumption of regular season play, with Commissioner Don Garber saying details will be released “soon” on their plans.
Now, its worth noting that MLS is doing this against the specter of a Major League Baseball season that has been beset by players and teams testing positive for COVID-19 as they move about the country. MLB is the first team to try the whole professional sports thing minus a bubble and the issues they’ve had should probably be enough to give other leagues pause from attempting the same thing except for, you know, the whole money part.
If The Athletic’s reporting is to be believed, FC Dallas and Nashville SC will kick off as soon as next week, with the two teams making up for matches missed in the Orlando tournament with a two-legged affair starting August 12. A third match will take place at a later date.
The two teams playing in home markets, while not great, probably will be OK. But the match will be played with fans, with Garber saying that such an arrangement will be allowed when state and local regulations allow.
Now, I’m not sure about you but risking life and limb to go watch two mediocre MLS teams duke it out in a weird facsimile of a regular season game. But while some local and state governments might be alright with fans in the stand, I just don’t see why the league should be. I get that gate receipts, however limited they may be, aren’t nothing for teams.
But given that MLS is a league filled with fans who are generally more progressive and who hopefully have been taking the virus seriously, the league should reflect that in its decision making process. Just because you can do something does not always mean you should of course.
And then there is the matter of what to do with the Canadian teams. Rumor has it that all three teams will mirror what the Toronto Blue Jays did and try and find a U.S. base to play in, rather than proceed with the initial plan of just playing amongst themselves.
Obviously from a standpoint of playing matches this is a win (I don’t think a round robin between the three Canadian teams made anybody happy). But this still raises a lot of questions. Guys from the Canadian teams will be away from their homes and families more—is that fair?
There are competitive balance questions as well. If Lucas Cavallini and Fredy Montero didn’t want to play in a relatively controlled environment, why would they want to base themselves in Portland and move about the country, mingling freely with potentially exposed individuals. The Caps’ depletion was sustainable in MiB given the relatively few number of matches but over something approximating a regular season? It just isn’t fair.
And finally, if Canada has the good sense to block something like this from taking place, maybe it should be a sign to the powers that be in the league that maybe, just maybe they should be giving this some pause.
Anyway, on with some links:
Best of the Rest
A nice profile on Thomas Hasal, also from The Athletic. Good to see his 15 minutes of fame still going
More from Garber on games having fans if possible
FC Dallas has cut goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez loose after allegations of domestic violence surfaced earlier this year