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Larentowicz hints at MLS plans for drastically shortened season

One of Atlanta United’s captains and Players Association leaders said MLS could be planning for only nine games post-Orlando.

SOCCER: MAR 07 MLS - Atlanta United FC v FC Cincinnati Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In recent weeks, MLS and its executives, media, fans, players, and clubs have fixated on the soon-to-be-realized Orlando Tournament To Be Named Later™ and the collective bargaining happening around it.

What hasn’t been spoken about nearly as much is what lies beyond that tournament. Speaking with media on a video conference Thursday, a frustrated Jeff Larentowicz—who’s spent the better part of the last several days on conference calls as an MLS Players Association executive committee member—hinted at what lies next.

“Don Garber’s words were: ‘Just can’t do it guys. After Orlando, all we can fit in is nine games,’” Larentowicz revealed on the call. “Not sure what he meant there. I’ve heard rumblings of more than nine games, beginning almost directly after Orlando. So we’ll see.”

And just so everyone has the full context, here’s the audio of the exchange, including the questions posed by Doug Roberson from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Darren Eales spoke with the same press group moments later, but declined to comment on specifics of the bargaining agreement or what Larentowicz told reporters.

A nine-game post-Orlando tournament—were it to happen—would be a shocking twist to the 2020 MLS season, creating a season for some teams that could be shorter than half of the league’s typical 34-game schedule.

It’s particularly surprising consider what Eales has informally proposed in the past, where he’s said the 2020 season could actually extend beyond the calendar year.

On the positive side for Atlanta United, if the regular season is indeed chopped down to less than 17 total games, the Five Stripes already have 6 points in the bag from their wins against Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati to start the season.