MLS making contingency plans for Cup final could use neutral site

15:54 PM ET

  • Jeff Carlisle

Shut up. American Football Correspondent

Jeff Carlisle reports on MLS and the American national football team ESPN.

  • Kyle Bonagura

Shut up. ESPN personnel

    • Cover the Pac-12.
    • He has been employed by ESPN since 2014.
    • Studied at Washington State University.

MLS is developing contingency plans for the MLS Cup finals, including the ability to play in a neutral location due to the impact of the COWID 19 pandemic, sources told ESPN.

The playoffs of the MLS Cup have reached the semifinals, Columbus hosted the New England Revolution in Sunday’s Eastern Conference final, and Minnesota United traveled to Seattle to take over Saunders in the Western Conference final the next day. The MLS Cup final will be held on the 12th. December.

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With the MLS setting a playoff during the regular season with points per game, the team has an internal track to the MLS Cup finals, followed by Seattle, Minnesota and New England.

However, the Covid 19 pandemic continues to plague the United States, with the number of new cases reaching 200,000 in the last two days and the number of deaths approaching 3,000 a day, according to the New York Times. MLS is preparing for the fact that prior to the play-offs, COVID-19 restrictions, such as those currently in place in some areas of California, may prevent the team from playing a play-off game.

A source pointed out that these plans are backed up and that MLS is still planning to play the finals at the location of the top team. However, it is not certain that the league will try to play the match in the home zone of the lowest ranked team if the highest ranked finalist cannot accept the match, or if they go directly to a neutral location.

In the event that the MLS Cup final is moved to a neutral location, Orlando’s Exploria Stadium was mentioned as a possible option due to its natural grass pitch and favorable weather conditions in December.

MLS could not be available for comment when reporting this story.

Last month Governor Mike DeWin from Ohio reinstated his mandate to wear masks outside and in companies when it is impossible to be within two meters of people. With a few exceptions, there is also an arrangement for staying at home from 10pm to 5am. Franklin’s Columbus County reported an average of 840 new cases in seven days, or 64 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Currently, the team allows a maximum of 1500 fans, as well as friends and family members to attend the games.

Two weeks ago, Governor Tim Wals of Minnesota announced the closure of bars, restaurants, nightlife and health clubs for four weeks to contain the COWID 19 pandemic. In Ramsey County, where Alliance Field is based in Minnesota, a seven-day trip averages 508 cases, or 92.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Minnesota United does not currently allow fans to attend matches.

In Norfolk County, where Gillet Stadium was located during the Revolution, the seven-day trip averaged 240 people, or 34 people per 100,000 people. Press Officer Revs said the team still doesn’t allow fans to attend the games. Wearing a mask is currently mandatory in public places in Massachusetts. Enclosed meetings are limited to 10 people and open air meetings to 25 people. There is also a similar scheme as in Ohio for home leave.

In the state of Washington, the law is valid until the age of 14. December a four-week hygiene regulation, which includes outdoor meetings limited to five people outside the same household and indoor restaurants in bars and restaurants are not allowed. As has been the case since the start of the pandemic, fans are not allowed to play Saunders’ home games. The seven-day moving average in King County is 581.4 new cases, or approximately 25.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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