While the NFL has had to become Tetris masters to rearrange their schedule in accommodating even more positive tests from both Tennessee and New England, MLS has been doing this dance for a while. And it also may be an indication that there won’t be a light at the end of the tunnel for the NFL.
Just today, MLS had to postpone three matches on its slate. Orlando vs. Columbus was banged thanks to two positive tests amongst the Columbus staff. Orlando had already announced that one of its players had tested positive yesterday. FC Dallas and Minnesota was also scratched because Minnesota had a couple of players test positive. This was added to the continued nullification of the Colorado Rapids’ existence, as their match with the LA Galaxy had already been postponed.
That was the fourth straight match for Colorado that hasn’t made the bell, and they haven’t played in nearly three weeks. And all of this was after MLS had made up their post-MLS-Is-Back tournament schedule on the go, which has featured goofiness like the three Canadian teams playing “home” games in the Northeast (or in Portland) to avoid Canada’s reentry protocols and quarantine. Or to keep the three of them from just playing each other repeatedly, as they had already started to do.
MLS has also expanded its playoffs to 18 teams, with unequal numbers from the West and East making the postseason. All of it, much like baseball, is a drunken snowmobile race just to get to the playoffs, where the TV money lies. This is exactly what the NFL is trying to careen toward: not having the Super Bowl disrupted in any manner.
It’s clear that having sports outside of a bubble just can’t really be done cleanly right now, though that would ignore how MLS only got through its midsummer Florida bubble tournament by throwing two teams out of it — Dallas and Nashville. NWSL has been out of a bubble, sort of, in the fall, but that has only involved four games for each team, all divided into regions.
For the MLS, Colorado is the one truly screwed here, as they now have two games to make up and every weekend and midweek slot from now until the conclusion of the MLS season on Nov. 8th is already taken. And that’s if they can get back on the field this Wednesday, which, considering they’re unearthing more positive tests, is looking highly unlikely.
The NFL doesn’t have midweek slots, although it’s found a way to make the rigid schedule a little more flexible today to get the Titans and Patriots caught up.
But any more cancellations/postponements and they’re up against it. MLS has been up against it since they decided to try and complete a 23-games season, and even with greater flexibility than the NFL schedule, they might not pull it off.