(Reuters) – Major League Soccer is still planning to play a full season but said on Tuesday that it could soon run out of available dates due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
MLS had been planning and hoping for a mid-May return having shut down the season on March 12 after just two weeks.
“Our goal remains to play as many games as possible, and while we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so,” said MLS in a statement.
“We continue to learn more every day from the medical experts, and we expect to have additional details in the coming weeks regarding when we can return to play.
“As we have throughout this process, we will update our fans with every decision, and we thank them for their support and understanding during this extremely challenging time.”
With the U.S. death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, at more than 24,400 on Tuesday, the MLS said there was little chance of a May return.
“Major League Soccer continues to regularly evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how it will affect our plans for the 2020 season,” the league said.
“Although we hoped to return to play in mid-May, that is extremely unlikely based on the guidance of federal and local public health authorities.”
MLS had earlier extended its team training moratorium to April 24, limiting the use of team facilities to players needing treatment or rehabilitation.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)