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MLS suspends its season 30 days, CONCACAF Champions League off indefinitely amid coronavirus outbreak

Cristian Casseres Jr. of Red Bulls looks on

Cristian Casseres Jr. of Red Bulls looks on during a game against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 7, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Alex Goodlett

New York’s two Major League Soccer clubs have their seasons on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.

MLS has suspended its season for 30 days effective immediately because of the outbreak, the league announced Thursday. CONCACAF also announced it has suspended play in its Champions League competition, also immediately.

"At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events," MLS said in its statement.

New York City FC was scheduled to host FC Dallas in its MLS home opener on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The Red Bulls were set to play a road match at Minnesota United FC on Sunday.

“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,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

NYCFC chief executive Brad Sims released a statement supporting the decision.

“The health and safety of our fans, players and staff is – and always has been – our number one priority," Sims' statement said. "After monitoring the COVID-19 situation extremely closely with our partners at MLS and city, state and federal agencies, we fully support the League’s decision to suspend the 2020 season for a 30-day time period."

The statement said tickets for Saturday's scheduled home opener and other suspended matches will be honored once rescheduled. Should matches be canceled or played behind closed doors, NYCFC will "work closely with fans to provide refunds and/or credits for future games."

The Red Bulls also released a statement supporting the league's action.

"The Red Bulls have been continuously monitoring developments surrounding Covid-19 in the New York/New Jersey metro area and have worked closely with MLS, USL and local authorities to maintain up-to-date plans and protocols consistent with recommendations from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," the statement read. "Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our fans, players, and staff. As an organization we will continue to take precautions for the well-being of players and staff during the suspension and urge all of our supporters and the general public to do the same."

CONCACAF, which oversees soccer in North and Central Americas and the Caribbean,  announced the suspension of its Champions League competition. NYCFC played its home leg of the quarterfinal against Tigres UANL of Mexico on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, losing 1-0 on a stoppage-time goal. Official attendance Wednesday was 10,212. The club was scheduled to visit Tigres for the return leg next Tuesday.

"At CONCACAF the welfare of everyone associated with our matches and competitions is of paramount importance to us," the confederation said in a news release. "We have been closely monitoring the public health situation as it has been evolving in the US and across the entire region. Given the developments last night, including new guidance issued by countries, cities and states, we have made the decision to suspend the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League with immediate effect. We are continuing to discuss arrangements for other upcoming Concacaf competitions and will make a further public statement in due course."

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