Gonzalez: MLS Must Learn From Bundesliga

If MLS wants players to remain safe during the MLS is Back Tournament, implementing the Bundesliga's protocols would be a good start

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 18, 2020 - 10:21 am
MLS 2020

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Major League Soccer will return to the pitch for the MLS is Back Tournament, which begins July 8 at Disney World Resort near Orlando. The 26-team tournament will follow a World Cup-style format and feature 54 matches, ultimately culminating in a championship match August 11.

“It’s nice to see,” CBS Sports soccer insider Roger Gonzalez said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think the big thing is finding some incentive. There’s a pool of money that’s available. It's not all that much; I think it’s $1.1 million. Obviously that’s a lot, but when you think about the amount of players, I’m not sure how they’re going to divide that up. But being able to win the tournament and have the games count toward the regular-season standings and also qualify for the regional competition, which is the CONCACAF Champions League, I certainly think it makes it more enticing. So it’ll be fun. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the teams perform.”

The challenge, of course, will be keeping players – and coaches and staff – safe and virus-free. MLS would be wise to follow in the footsteps of the Bundesliga, which implemented thorough and effective protocols.

“It’s going to be hard for any team to match the level of dedication and thoroughness that we’ve seen in the Bundesliga, where they’re using disinfectant at halftime to clean off the soccer balls,” Gonzalez said. “They’ve taken it to, not an extreme, but they’ve just gone above and beyond. I think MLS can learn from that.”

If the virus proves opportunistic, MLS may have to alter the tournament accordingly. As it stands, though, the league has an excellent chance to gain new fans this summer.

“I certainly think there’s a growing concern among the players because of what we’re seeing in Florida and the rise in cases for coronavirus,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve seen how it’s impacted the NBA potentially as well. The players are concerned about the virus and the current situation we’re dealing with in the country when it comes to police brutality. But I think MLS is a league that knows it has quite the opportunity to showcase themselves in a fun tournament that should really pick up new soccer fans. Live sports on TV is certainly something that people want.”