MLS announces 2021 regular season starts on April 17

Major League Soccer has announced an updated start date for the 2021 regular season, with play now set to get underway on Saturday, April 17. This is following its’ original announcement to begin on April 3, 2021.

MLS has also announced that the MLS and the MLS Players Association have ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement through 2027.

MLS’s 26th season will feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs and will conclude on Decision Day, Nov. 7. The Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will get underway on Nov. 19, culminating with MLS Cup on Saturday, Dec. 11. Major League Soccer will announce the complete 2021 regular season schedule, including the national broadcast schedule for the league’s media partners in the U.S. and Canada, in the coming weeks.

In addition to regular-season matches, the 26th season will include the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Campeones Cup and Leagues Cup during the late summer window. MLS clubs also will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship and Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League in 2021.

The league also anticipates dozens of players competing for their respective national teams in competitions such as FIFA World Cup qualifying, Concacaf Nations League Finals, the Concacaf Gold Cup, Copa América, the European Championship and the Summer Olympics.

Conference Alignment

Austin FC will make their debut in MLS in the 2021 season and will compete in the Western Conference. As a result, there will be 14 clubs in the Eastern Conference and 13 in the West.

Health and Safety

In accordance with MLS health and safety protocols, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual trainings upon reporting back to their clubs for the start of preseason.

Similar to the 2020 MLS season, COVID-19 testing protocols will again play an important role in MLS’ competition framework. MLS continues to work closely with the league and MLSPA’s infectious disease advisors on health and safety protocols, including testing. During the regular season, all players, technical staff and essential club staff will continue to be tested every other day, including the day before each match day. In addition, clubs will take chartered flights for all road trips until further notice.

Canadian Clubs

Due to travel restrictions between the US and Canada, Major League Soccer continues to work with the league’s three Canadian clubs regarding plans for the 2021 regular season. More details on plans for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future.