New York (AFP) – Major League Soccer’s three Canadian squads will play their remaining 2021 home games in Canada, the league announced Thursday, after teams started the season playing out of US venues.
Covid-19 safety and travel restrictions between Canada and the United States forced CF Montreal, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps to begin their campaigns playing home matches on American soil so they could face US rivals.
Teams were given limited approval to return to their Canadian venues earlier this month before the Canadian government approved a National Interest Exemption allowing all MLS players to compete in cross-border matches, provided they follow strict safety protocols.
Traveling players and staff will need to undergo Covid-19 testing before traveling into Canada and upon arrival regardless of vaccination status.
Those not fully vaccinated will be required to follow a modified quarantine protocol.
After a negative Covid-19 test, such personnel can participate in practices and matches but otherwise cannot attend functions through the remainder of a 14-day quarantine period or until they leave the nation.
MLS said Thursday that 96% of players and club staff who work closely with the teams are fully vaccinated.
Montreal, which played a home match in Canada before 5,000 spectators on July 17, played early season home matches at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while Toronto played out of Orlando and Vancouver played out of the home venue of Real Salt Lake.
Montreal ranks seventh in the Eastern Conference at 6-5 with four drawn for 22 points with Toronto 11th on 13 points and a record of 3-8 with four drawn. Vancouver ranks 12th in the Western conference at 3-7 with five drawn for 14 points.