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MLS delays debut seasons for Charlotte, St. Louis and Sacramento over pandemic

MLS Commissioner Don Garber speaks during the league's 25th season kickoff event in New York on Feb. 26, 2020.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber, shown in February, said in a statement Friday that “it is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve.”
(Associated Press)

Major League Soccer delayed the first seasons of expansion teams in Charlotte, N.C.; St. Louis and Sacramento by one year each because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlotte will start play in 2022 and St. Louis and Sacramento will take the field in 2023, the league said Friday.

Austin, Texas, remains on track to begin next year, when MLS will have 27 teams. MLS said Austin FC had made significant progress before the pandemic.

Because of COVID-19, the MLS Is Back tournament is being played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and that’s created a surreal atmosphere.

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“It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”

MLS teams had played two games each when the coronavirus caused a shutdown March 12. Twenty-four teams are part of a resumption tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., that started July 8. Dallas and Nashville withdrew after numerous players tested positive for COVID-19.


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