MLS has once again extended its training moratorium due to the coronavirus pandemic, this time through April 3, but it includes a change to the protocol.
Previously, MLS had required players to remain in their home markets, but on Tuesday the league announced a modification to that policy.
"While MLS players are expected to remain in each club's respective market, MLS will review individual requests by players to relocate to another market by car, taking into account the totality of a player's situation," the league said in a statement.
A letter went out to the general managers and sporting directors of each team and included a form by which a player can request to relocate to a different market. The team will file the form on behalf of the player, and then the league will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to approve the request.
Several criteria will be considered in allowing a player to leave his team's market. Teenage players -- some of whom are living on their own for the first time -- will likely be allowed to relocate to where their families reside. A player's current living arrangement (hotel, apartment, or house) compared to the arrangement at the requested destination will factor into the decision. Restrictions in both the local and destination market will be considered, with a request to move close to a coronavirus hot spot likely to be denied. The player's ability to meet his current training and treatment requirements will also factor into the decision. A player would also have to have the ability to easily return to the team's market at the conclusion of the training moratorium.
International travel outside the United States and Canada for players is prohibited, though it's unclear how a request to move between the U.S. and Canada will be handled. Presently all non-essential travel between the two countries is banned.
The rest of the policy, first instituted on March 13, remains in place, and applies to first-team trainings, reserve teams and academies. Team facilities can be accessed only for physical therapy purposes at the direction of club medical staff to ensure adherence to safety protocols. Tuesday marked the second time the moratorium has been extended.
Unlike the suspension of the season, which extends until May 10, MLS has opted to extend the training moratorium in short-term increments. Part of this is due to how quickly the situation related to the coronavirus is evolving.
In terms of the protocol once the moratorium is lifted, the league's thinking remains consistent, in that its teams will ease into a resumption of training. Teams will first hold individual workouts for players and then, if all goes well, progress to full team workouts.
The statement added, "MLS remains in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on this continually evolving situation and will provide further updates as they become available."