Will MLS Pause During the 2026 World Cup?

Date IconLast Updated: Oct 5th, 2023
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Will MLS Pause During the 2026 World Cup?
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Will MLS Pause During the 2026 World Cup?

Unlike Europe's soccer leagues, Major League Soccer does not play during much of the winter. The 2023 season runs from Feb. 25 through Oct. 21.

The 2022 World Cup was in Qatar and set in November and December, so the MLS season was in its offseason. With the U.S. men's national team in action, it was an early look at some MLS players. 

In 2026, the U.S. will jointly host the World Cup with Canada and Mexico. A regular World Cup schedule will resume from June 8 through July 3.

Will the MLS pause?

The 2026 World Cup format has not been finalized, but it's a given that the United States, Mexico and Canada will make the cut as host countries. The previous tourney winner also automatically qualifies — in this case, Argentina. 

The MLS is widely expected to pause during the 2026 World Cup. 

The tournament includes 80 games — 60 in the U.S., 10 in Mexico and 10 in Canada — and many of the league’s players will be with their national teams. Also, Americans' attention will be turned to soccer's biggest stage. 

The league is expected to pause longer than it did during the 2018 World Cup, because the U.S. and Canada are hosting. 

The MLS took a nine-day break for the 2018 competition. In 2014, the MLS played two Wednesday night games the day before the World Cup, but it had a longer break after. 

Once again, we expect the MLS to pause pretty close to the start of the World Cup and have a few days between the tournament final and the restart of domestic games. MLS clubs likely will still face one another in U.S. Open Cup games during the World Cup break.