The 2020 MLS season finished in the best way last December, closing out a campaign full of emotions and a lot of goals. The league has recently announced the start of the 2021 campaign and it's time to discover the big date.
The Seattle Sounders couldn't handle Columbus Crew in one of the most lopsided MLS Cup finals we've seen. Now, the league is ready to bring some changes, one more team and more players to the league next year.
After a tumultuous 2020 season, everybody is placing their attention on the next season, which is expected to be quieter than this one and will also bring the addition of another team to the competition. The MLS 2021 is going to be the 26th season of the league and now we’re going to see when it will start.
When does the new MLS season start?
MLS Commissioner Don Garber talked about the start of the league in his State of the League address, revealing that they have already identified a tentative date to start the new campaign of the competition. Garber explained that they were thinking of a March start to the 2021 season but recent updates have have revealed that the league is returning in April.
"Major League Soccer today announced the 2021 MLS season will begin on Saturday, April 3 and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs. MLS’ 26th regular season will conclude on MLS Decision Day, November 7, and the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will begin November 19. MLS Cup will be played on Saturday, December 11.
Commissioner Don Garber has revealed the league will start two weeks before the intial date, on April 17. The full schedule of the season will be unveiled in the coming days.
"Clubs will be permitted to open preseason training on February 22, six weeks prior to MLS is Back opening weekend. In accordance with MLS health and safety protocols, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual trainings upon reporting back to their clubs."
The league will have another addition with Austin FC, making it 27 teams in total across two conferences. It’s unclear what is going to happen now but they’re ready to start the new season in March. As for now, we only know that a champion will be crowned this Saturday and everybody will try to defeat them next year.
MLS and MLSPU CBA Issues
While the start of the MLS season has been officially announced, the league has another issue on the table, a restructuring of the current CBA with the MLS Players Union. According to the league, a restructuring is required given the economic losses the league suffered during the 2020 season. The losses were at an estimated $1 billion dollars.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber provided an update on talks with the players union, stating: "We understand that the MLSPA need some time to review the proposal that we made last week," he said. "But as of today, we have 20 days to work together to reach an agreement, and we are laser-focused to reach an agreement with our players, ready to sit down with them, day or night, to try to reach an agreement. So there has to be a real sense of urgency from both the MLS league office, our ownership and certainly from the player pool and the MLSPA."
The proposal put forward by the league is to extend the term of the existing CBA by two more years rather than seeking any salary reduction. According to MLS it would allow players to retain 100% of their salaries and the same free agency laws would still apply. The MLSPU will be commenting on said proposal shortly.