Inter Miami is set to open training camp Feb. 22 as the MLS season kicks off April 3

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Michelle Kaufman
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Inter Miami, under new coach Phil Neville, will open preseason training Feb. 22 and kick off its second season in early April.

Major League Soccer announced Monday that the 2021 season will begin Saturday, April 3, and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs. The regular season will conclude Nov. 7, and the playoffs begin Nov. 19. MLS Cup will be played Saturday, Dec. 11.

The season will feature the debut of expansion club Austin FC.

Players, coaches and staff will have to follow strict COVID-19 protocols, as they did last season, including quarantine before the start of training camp and testing every other day during the season. Also, teams will be required to take charter flights to all games until further notice.

It will be a busy year, as many players will be competing for their respective national teams in World Cup qualifying, Concacaf Nations League Finals, the Concacaf Gold Cup, Copa América, the European Championship and the Summer Olympics. MLS plans an All-Star event in late summer.

MLS continues to meet with the MLS Players Association to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. MLS invoked a force majeure clause in late-December to address massive financial losses due to the pandemic.

The league presented the MLSPA with a proposal that would pay the players 100 percent of their salaries in 2021, in return for a two-year extension of the current CBA. The MLSPA submitted a counteroffer on Jan. 23.