It’s been a wild year for Major League Soccer. Its 25th season, meant to be a season of celebration for the league, has been marred like every other league in the world by a global coronavirus pandemic that forced its shutdown for several months. When it returned, it returned in the form of a tournament, MLS is Back, followed by a truncated regular season where most teams will end up around half of a normal schedule.
However, despite the fact the regular season will end next month and the playoffs running through December 12th, the 2021 season may still be months off. According to a report by the Sports Business Journal, the league could be looking at an April 2021 start date instead of early March or late February. Some think the league start could be later than that.
Sources tell @markjburns88 that the #MLS is discussing delaying the start of its 2021 season to April, though multiple options still remain for the league.— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) October 26, 2020
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That would mean if a team doesn’t make the expanded playoffs, they could be looking at a layoff that will exceed 6 months. That’s a long time to wait for competitive league matches. Add to that the fact that 2021 will be an extremely busy year for the United States Men’s National Team and the youth teams. They will have the Concacaf Nations League playoffs, the Gold Cup, and the start of World Cup qualifying. For the U-23s, there will be Olympic qualifying and the Olympics, should they make it. And, there are also U-17 and U-20 World Cups scheduled for next season too.
The USMNT will not be the only team busy. Because of the many postponed events from 2020, 2021 is a loaded calendar. Copa América, the Euros, and Africa Cup of Nations qualifying will accompany World Cup qualifying around the world. That means for players on MLS teams, they could be at a disadvantage as they seek opportunities to stay match fit during the first part of 2021.
So, could short term loans to teams abroad be an option for USMNT players in MLS? It’s happened before. Landon Donovan notably had a couple of short-term loan stints at Everton and Bayern Munich during his time with the LA Galaxy. Sending players to clubs in Europe on short loans before the season starts could be a good thing to keep the players sharp and in peak physical fitness ahead of the March international window as they seek to get ready for the busy summer. It could also give them some high-level experience and put them on the radar of clubs that may be interested in signing them on a permanent basis. Still, you’ll need teams abroad to go for this, and there’s no guarantee every player would be able to secure a loan that could help them stay fit during the long layoff.
So, the Community Corner question is: should USMNT players in Major League Soccer seek a winter loan somewhere outside the league? Hit the comments and tell us where could be beneficial for the players, whether it be Mexico, the Championship in England, Spain, France, or somewhere else.