MLS suspends season over coronavirus concerns

MLS, which includes Atlanta United, is suspending its games for 30 days because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. The league announced the suspension Thursday. CONCACAF also is suspending the Champions League, of which Atlanta United is a part, with no return date announced.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement from the league. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

The league just finished its second of 34 rounds. Atlanta United (2-0-0) was scheduled to host Sporting KC Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

MLS becomes the second major pro sports league, along with the NBA, in North America and one of a handful of soccer leagues in the world to suspend games because of concerns about the virus.

Atlanta United’s games against Sporting KC, at Chicago and at Cincinnati will be rescheduled. Atlanta United is scheduled to host Portland on April 19.

A statement from Atlanta United president Darren Eales read: “As we receive additional insight from the leagues into the rescheduling of the postponed matches, we will communicate details at that time.

“We know there are a lot of questions that need to be addressed and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to gather information. As you know, this is a quickly evolving situation and we will do our best to keep you as informed and updated as possible.

“As always, we appreciate your support and value your commitment to the club.”

Ticket refunds, the team training schedule and additional information regarding the league suspension was not immediately available.

A benefit to the league suspension could be that it gives many of Atlanta United’s injured players more time to rehab and return. Currently out are centerbacks Miles Robinson, Franco Escobar and Laurence Wyke, fullback Edgar Castillo and midfielder Matheus Rossetto. Josef Martinez likely is out for the season with an ACL injury.

Atlanta United’s Champions League second-leg game against Club America scheduled for March 18 is postponed in the quarterfinal round.  Atlanta United was beaten in the first leg 3-0 on Wednesday in Mexico City. The Federation issued this statement Thursday:

“At Concacaf the welfare of everyone associated with our matches and competitions is of paramount importance to us. We have been closely monitoring the public health situation as it has been evolving in the US and across the entire region.

“Given the developments last night, including new guidance issued by countries, cities and states, we have made the decision to suspend the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League with immediate effect.

“We are continuing to discuss arrangements for other upcoming Concacaf competitions and will make a further public statement in due course.

U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that it is cancelling all men’s and women’s senior team matches through April. Also cancelled are most of the youth national team camps.

The USL Championship, which includes Atlanta United 2, announced Thursday that is suspending games for at least 30 days.

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