Fire

Fire plug some holes with a pair of depth signings

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USA TODAY

Fire plug some holes with a pair of depth signings

Injuries have depleted the Fire's depth this preseason and with the season opener a day away, the Fire made a pair of signings to fill in at positions especially thin at the moment.

The Fire signed goalkeeper Patrick McLain, who played with the team in 2016, and defender Kevin Ellis, a seven-year league veteran who was a Sporting Kansas City homegrown signing.

McLain fills an immediate need with just two goalkeepers on the roster previously and one of them, expected starter Richard Sanchez, is listed as questionable for Saturday's game with a left elbow injury. McLain gives the Fire two fully healthy goalkeepers, joining second-year player Stefan Cleveland. The 29-year-old made one start with the Fire in 2016, the season finale, and has made three career MLS appearances.

McLain's deal is for one year with club options each of the next two years.

As for Ellis, he gives the Fire a healthy backup at center back. Both Jonathan Campbell (facial fracture) and Grant Lillard (knee) are out for Saturday's game, leaving the Fire with two center backs (Johan Kappelhof and Christian Dean) before Ellis was signed. Ellis was waived by Kansas City on Feb. 27 and joined the Fire as a trialist initially.

Ellis made five starts with SKC last year, but was a regular starter with the team in 2015. He made 26 starts in 2015 and combined for 58 starts and 68 MLS appearances in the past five years. Ellis is signed for one year with the Fire holding an option for 2019.

In addition to the injuries to Campbell and Lillard, and the ACL recoveries of Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic, four players are listed as questionable for the season opener: Sanchez, Luis Solignac (left hip), Rafael Ramos (right thigh) and Daniel Johnson (right ankle). This added urgency for the Fire to add extra players to the roster. Solignac was a regular starter last year and Johnson could be in line for more minutes with the departure of Arturo Alvarez, who was the first attacking midfielder/winger off the bench for most of 2017.

The Fire's roster is now at 27 with these two signings along with the recent signings of rookies Elliot Collier and Diego Campos. Trialists Omar Castro and Albert Ruiz are still with the team, but remain unsigned. Maxi Moreira, who was on trial with the Fire for much of the preseason, is no longer with the team.

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

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USA Today

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

MLS soccer is coming back this summer.

The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”

The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.

Here’s how it will work:

Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.

There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.

Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.

The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.

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MLS cancels three marquee events in wake of coronavirus, reschedules for 2021

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USA TODAY

MLS cancels three marquee events in wake of coronavirus, reschedules for 2021

Major League Soccer announced Tuesday the cancelation of three marquee 2020 events in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 MLS All-Star Game, Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup have all been canceled, the league announced Tuesday. Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. was set to host the All-Star game on July 29, and MLS said the 2021 event is now expected to take place at the same venue. 

MLS will resume negotiations with LIGA MX with hopes of squaring off in the 2021 exhibition match.

The second annual Leagues Cup tournament was set to occur between July and September, featuring top MLS and LIGA MX teams. The two leagues canceled the event in a joint decision and plan to play the tournament next year.

Similarly, MLS and LIGA MX jointly canceled the Campeones Cup, which features the reigning MLS champion against the LIGA MX's Campeón de Campeones winner. The 2020 event was scheduled for Aug. 12 at CenturyLink field, home of Seattle Sounders FC. It will return in 2021.