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MLS delays St. Louis, other expansions due to pandemic

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer has delayed the first seasons of expansion teams in St. Louis as well as Charlotte, N.C., and Sacramento, Calif., by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

St. Louis and Sacramento will take the field in 2023, the league said Friday. Charlotte will start play in 2022.

Austin, Texas, remains on track to begin next year, when MLS will have 27 teams. MLS said Austin FC had made significant progress before the pandemic.

“It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

“With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”

MLS teams had played two games each when the coronavirus caused a shutdown on March 12. Twenty-four teams are part of a resumption tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., that started July 8. Dallas and Nashville withdrew after numerous players tested positive for COVID-19.

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