Coronavirus: MLS suspends season due to COVID-19 concerns; U.S. Soccer cancels friendlies

Major League Soccer is the latest professional North American sports league to suspend its season over coronavirus concerns. The league has put the season on hold for 30 days, effective immediately, MLS announced in a press release on Thursday.

The league plans to discuss future plans "at the appropriate time," adding, "the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events."

Here's what MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in the release:

"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,""We'd like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time."

With the uncertainty of the virus, there is no guarantee the league returns after the 30-day stoppage.

MLS joins the NBA as the second league to put its season on hold over the spread of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Soccer announced the United States men's and women's soccer teams have canceled their international friendlies in March and April. 

They released the following statement: "Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, U.S. Soccer has canceled the upcoming Men's and Women's Senior National Team matches in March and April, and the majority of Youth National Team and Extended National Team camps that were planned through the end of April."

The men's team had games scheduled against the Netherlands on March 26 and Wales on March 30. The women's team defeated Japan 3-1 in the SheBelives Cup in Frisco, Texas.   

U.S. Soccer emphasized the health and safety of their players, coaches, staff and fans as the reason for this decision. The call comes after they spoke to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as state and local departments of public health.

They will be communicating with CONCACAF over the status of the U-23 Men's Olympic Qualifying, U-17 Women's Championship and Futsal Championship.

With the recent developments and guidance issued in different states and countries, the CONCACAF Champions League was officially suspended "with immediate effect." Los Angeles FC and Cruz Azul were scheduled to play on Thursday and Atlanta United and Club America played on Wednesday night.

The coronavirus has caused great concern around the world, with many countries nearly shutting down to reduce the spreading of the virus.   

In order to ensure the safety of fans, media members, players and the general public, many leagues have decided to play without fans or suspend the seasons completely. Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League are currently expected to go on as normal, though with many areas banning large gatherings, teams are scheduled to play behind closed doors. 

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