Months after the worsening coronavirus pandemic forced Major League Soccer to suspend the 2020 season after two matchdays, league commissioner Don Garber confirmed three expansion clubs will have debuts postponed at least a year.
In an official league statement released amid the ongoing "MLS is Back" tournament, the top flight explained that Charlotte, Sacramento Republic FC and St. Louis have all been pushed back one year. Charlotte will debut in 2022, while Sacramento and St. Louis will begin MLS tenures in 2023.
Austin FC remains on schedule for a 2021 MLS start.
In the prepared statement, Garber said:
“We have always taken a thoughtful and strategic approach to our expansion planning and have delivered successful launches for every new club. It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve. With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”
The MLS tournament held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex bubble site is set to end Aug. 11, and the league originally hoped to complete the third portion of a season unlike any other by allowing clubs to host in-market games.
With coronavirus cases spiking throughout regions of the United States, though, it's unknown if that's realistic, especially with Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps all temporarily residing in a country that is shut off to Canada through at least Aug. 21.