Major League Baseball’s loss could be Major League Soccer’s gain.
With the Bundesliga season in full swing, La Liga back in action too and the mother of all domestic sports competitions — England’s wildly popular Premier League — set to return this week, it would’ve been easy for soccer fans to miss Monday’s huge baseball news.
Basically, the 2020 MLB season is in real jeopardy because of the ongoing and off-putting labor strife that has prevented the league and its players from reaching an agreement to restart amid the coronavirus. That puts baseball at odds with not just those European circuits, but also the NBA, NFL and NHL, who are well into their preparations to resume.
All of those entities stand to benefit if the MLB season doesn’t happen. Soccer, and MLS in particular, seems uniquely well-positioned to fill the void in live sports programming in July and August, traditionally the least congested months of the sports calendar. The National Women’s Soccer League will become the first North American sports league to come back when it kicks off a month-long tournament in Utah on June 27. The opening game will be carried nationally by CBS — the first professional women’s soccer league game ever to be aired on network television — as will the July 26 finale.
MLS will be the next league to come back. When it does, with a six-week-long tourney beginning July 8, it could enjoy more mainstream exposure than at any point in its 25-year history. The NBA and NHL aren’t looking to return until August. The NFL expects its 2020 campaign to begin in September, as usual.