First MLS games postponed, first U.S. pro match played behind closed doors

As of Wednesday night, all 12 MLS games on the Week 3 calendar for this weekend -- 10 on Saturday and two on Sunday -- are still scheduled to be played, but the situation could change quickly on Thursday in response to the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the first two MLS postponements were announced -- Seattle vs. FC Dallas and San Jose vs. Sporting KC on March 21 -- in response to local bans on mass gatherings.

In addition, the first pro soccer match in the United States was moved behind closed doors when the Tacoma Defiance, the Sounders' second team, hosted in the San Diego Loyal in the USL Championship on Wednesday evening.

(On Wednesday evening, the California Department of Public Health asked for the cancellations at least through the end of March of large gatherings. There are three MLS teams and four USL Championship teams in California. The U.S. women's national team is scheduled to play Brazil on April 14 at the Earthquakes Stadium in San Jose.)

The Seattle area has been the epicenter of the COVID19 outbreak in the United States with 26 deaths in King County.

Addressing the Seattle media on Wednesday, Sounders president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said the Sounders' next game at Houston on Saturday was still scheduled and the team was planning to fly to Houston on Thursday.

“It could evolve," he said. "The situation is fluid, but we are going down to Houston with the intention of playing in front of fans.”

Lagerwey said decisions on future matches would be made in the interest of public health and the well-being of the Sounders' fans, staff and players.

“That’s what drives these decisions," he said. "But clearly stuff like this is going to have an impact not just on our business, but on lots of different businesses.”

MLS issued a statement, reiterating the measures and procedures clubs were taking to protect those who attend and work at league games, but it concluded by saying it will continue to monitor the situation and will provide any updates at the appropriate time.

MLS's statement was issued before the NBA announced it was suspending its regular season until future notice after a Utah Jazz player, reportedly French star Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the coronavirus minutes before the Jazz game at Oklahoma City was scheduled to tip off.

The Loyal also announced that it was moving Saturday's home game against Rio Grande Valley FC to July 29, and Hartford Athletic's home matches against Charleston on March 21 and Memphis 901 FC on April 4 were both postponed.

On Tuesday, U.S. Youth Soccer canceled all National League scheduled for the next two weekends in Las Vegas. The Players College Showcase at which the National League games were scheduled was also cancelled on Wednesday. U.S. Club Soccer postponed the id2 National Selection international tours to England and Scotland until later this year.

The U.S. government's travel ban to take effect Friday on non-Americans coming from Europe effectively kills the two friendly games Mexico was slated to play in the United States -- the Czech Republic March 26 in Charlotte and Greece March 29 in Arlington, Texas.

The U.S. men's national team is scheduled to face the Netherlands March 26 in Eindhoven and Wales on March 30 in Cardiff. A ban on club games is already in effect for the Dutch region of North Brabant around Eindhoven.

MLS, Week 3 Schedule ...
Saturday, March 14
NYCFC vs. FC Dallas 12:30 pm.
Inter Miami vs. LA Galaxy 2:30 pm.
Toronto FC vs. Nashville SC 4 pm.
Columbus vs. Real Salt Lake 5 pm.
FC Cincinnati vs. D.C. United 5:30 pm.
Vancouver vs. Colorado 7 pm.
Atlanta United vs. Sporting KC 7 pm.
Philadelphia vs. San Jose 7:30 pm.
Orlando City vs. Chicago 7:30 pm.
Houston vs. Seattle 8:30 pm.
Sunday, March 15
New England vs. Portland 1:30 pm.
Minnesota United vs. NY Red Bulls 7 pm.
Note: All times ET.

USL, Week 2 Schedule ...
Saturday, March 13
New York RB II vs. Hartford 7 pm.
Miami FC vs. Tampa Bay 7:30 pm.
LA Galaxy II vs. Austin 10:30 pm.
Saturday, March 14  
North Carolina FC vs. Philadelphia Union II 2:30 pm.
Real Monarchs vs. Phoenix 7 pm.
Sporting Kansas City II vs. Indy Eleven 7 pm.
Colorado Springs vs. San Antonio FC 7:30 pm.
Charlotte vs. Pittsburgh 7 pm.
Memphis 901 vs. Saint Louis FC 8 pm.
FC Tulsa vs. New Mexico United 8 pm.
El Paso vs. Timbers II 9:30 pm.
Reno 1868 vs. OKC Energy 9:30 pm.
San Diego vs. Rio Grande Valley (postponed)
Las Vegas vs. Sac Republic 10:30 pm.
Sunday, March 15
Atlanta United II vs. Louisville City 3:30 pm.
Birmingham vs. Charleston 5 pm.
Note: All times ET.

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