MLS says Supporters' Shield won't be handed out in 2020
Regular season leader will instead be awarded CONCACAF Champions League berth
Major League Soccer's Supporters' Shield will not be awarded this year, the league said on Saturday, due to the changes to the standard competitive environment forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
MLS was among the numerous North American leagues to suspend its season in March due to the outbreak, kicking off a quarantined and fanless tournament in Orlando, Florida, in July before resuming its regular season in August.
The Supporters' Shield Foundation board said in a written statement that while it commended the players on carrying out the season, it would not be awarding its eponymous prize.
"This is not an easy decision to make. With the inability for supporters to be in attendance and fill their stadiums with passion, however, we feel as though the current climate goes against the spirit of the Shield," the board said.
In addition to earning the top seed in the MLS Cup playoffs, MLS said that the regular-season leader will receive a bonus and a CONCACAF Champions League berth.
The MLS regular season is scheduled to end on Nov. 8, followed by the playoffs, and then the MLS Cup in December.
Toronto FC, currently sitting atop the league table, became the first club to book a playoff spot last week.
If TFC can finish the season in first place, they will earn the berth into the CONCACAF Champions League. They can also claim a berth with a win over CPL club Forge FC in the 2020 Canadian Championship final.
Canada Soccer unveiled a new format for the Canadian Championship earlier this year. The format includes a single-match, winner-take-all final to be held between TFC and Forge (date still to be determined) to see who will lift the Voyageurs Cup and qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.
With files from CBC Sports