Should the 2020 MLS season have an asterisk on it?

MLS (Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MLS (Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

There should be an asterisk next to the 2020 MLS season

Asterisk, the third most used term in the sports world in 2020, behind Covid and Bubble. Every sport has questioned whether or not there should be an asterisk next to the winning team’s championship.

That has been especially true in MLS. Teams have lost games due to positive Covid-19 cases, and MLS has had to restructure the way the standings get calculated. There hasn’t been a professional men’s league in North America that has had their season as disrupted by the pandemic as MLS. As a result of everything up to this point, we need to ask whether or not there should be an asterisk next to the winner’s names of the MLS Cup and Supporters Shield and how we should view this asterisk.

Now, this question isn’t as simple to answer as you might think it would be. To begin with, if there is an asterisk put on these championships and trophies, is it to acknowledge how difficult it was, or to say that these teams had it easier? That’s a difficult topic to discuss because both sides have very valid arguments. On the one hand, everyone in MLS has had to play games in the middle of a pandemic, on a condensed schedule, while risking their own safety and the safety of the people close to them.

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On the other hand, these teams have not been able to compete on an even playing field. Some teams have also caught the coronavirus, forcing them to miss multiple games, leading to an unbalanced schedule.

Another very valid question though, does it even matter which side of the debate you fall on? In my opinion, it doesn’t, because this season should have an asterisk on it no matter what. No matter how the season finishes, no matter what happens the rest of the way, these will be the most difficult championships ever won in the history of MLS, period.

As of right now, the team who wins the league (not Supporters Shield because I’m going off the Leagues currently rule of points per game) is probably going to be either Seattle, Toronto, or Philadelphia. All three of these teams have had to deal with numerous obstacles in their way.

Toronto has played away from home for two-plus months, only going back to Toronto a couple of times to see family. Seattle has had its schedule readjusted because of different outbreaks on teams in the Western Conference. Philadelphia will play as many games as any team in the league and had the most difficult schedule, according to Martyn Bailey, of all contending teams in MLS.

So, any team that is successful in 2020 has EARNED these trophies. They have had to deal with adversity after adversity to experience success while also having to face fewer teams. To add an asterisk to this season’s trophies and the names next to these teams is justified but not because they didn’t earn these awards. Having an asterisk next to these winning team’s names is there to show that this season was extraordinary. These players sacrificed more than we could understand. They literally had to put their health and safety on the line.

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This is why the initial decision to not award the Supports Shield this season is so baffling, but that’s a conversation for another article or podcast segment. But, the bottom line is, we need to put an asterisk on this season, not because of an unfair advantage for some teams or a schedule change, but because this season was extraordinary, and we need to remember it for what it was, a season like no other.