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MLS, USL announce return to training update

FC Cincinnati v Atlanta United FC

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 07: Atlanta United starters huddle prior to match against FC Cincinnati, which Atlanta won, 2-1, in front of a crowd of 69,301 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during a game between FC Cincinnati and Atlanta United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on March 07, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

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Both MLS and the USL have released statements saying clubs can allow players to return for individual training, based on advice from their local and state health authorities.

In MLS, training at club facilities has been banned since March 12 when the 2020 season was suspended but certain clubs can now allow players to return to training facilities.

Games in MLS are currently suspended until June 8 with the current training moratorium set to expire on May 15.

Atlanta United, Inter Miami CF, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers, Nashville SC, Orlando City SC and Sporting Kansas City will all welcome players back to training this week and open up facilities for voluntary individual training.

The United Soccer League (USL) announced that teams in the Championship and League One will be allowed to put on “non-contract training in small groups as well as training rooms for player treatment” from May 11. USL had previously canceled its League Two season.

For clubs in certain regions of the U.S. these training sessions will be possible but for many they will not be and that is a very difficult situation for MLS and USL.

In California, New York and other states which still have strict shelter at home orders in place, how can MLS and USL teams ask players and clubs to continue training and be on the same level as teams who have returned? In essence, two thirds of both leagues could be ready to restart games by the end of this month but what do you do about the other teams? Even if lockdown orders are eased in the likes of California and New York, teams there will now be behind other teams across the league who could have been training together for weeks at that point. Does it impact the integrity of the competition?

The road ahead is a complicated one for all sporting leagues across the world but is especially complicated across a huge country like the U.S. where so many states have different orders in place. Perhaps MLS could look at teams in New York and California playing away games for the foreseeable future? It would be tricky to arrange but is perhaps the only way the season will resume before or on the June 8 target.

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