MLS extends suspension of season to May 10 due to coronavirus

MLS has extended the suspension of its season to May 10 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the league announced on Thursday.

MLS had previously said that the season was suspended through March 30, but in light of the updated guidelines from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention banning all gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, a later return date was determined to be necessary. On Wednesday, the lower-tier USL announced that it was suspending its season through May 10.

"MLS remains focused on playing the entire 2020 season and is evaluating all options, including pushing back the end of the season and playing MLS Cup in December, as the league did prior to the 2019 season. The league is also identifying other available dates," the league said in a statement.

"Throughout this process, MLS will continue to prioritize the safety of our fans, players, employees and partners and to coordinate with federal and local public health authorities as well as other sporting organizations."

MLS said that at this point, it is still planning to play its entire slate of games, meaning no matches have been canceled. The latest extension may require pushing MLS Cup -- currently scheduled for early November -- into December, but the league "is evaluating all options" and also "identifying other available dates" for when the match could be held. MLS held the match in December from 2012 through '18.

At present, MLS teams are prevented from training through March 20, but there was no update on whether the moratorium might be extended.

The MLS announcement comes on the day that NYCFC revealed a staff member of its sporting department staff had tested positive for the virus. The club said in a statement that the individual is feeling well after displaying mild symptoms and is observing appropriate isolation protocols. No other cases at the club have yet to be identified.

"As a Club, we are closely following all advice and taking all possible preventative measures. Thankfully, I am pleased to say that the individual affected is at home and is feeling better after only a short illness," NYCFC CEO Brad Sims said in the statement.

A staffer for the Seattle Sounders tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week.