Major League Soccer will return to play next month after details of the ‘MLS Is Back Tournament’ was officially confirmed.
MLS Is Back Tournament structure
The competition will involve all 26 MLS teams competing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida – between July 8 and August 11. A pre-tournament draw will determine the group stage assignments.
The group stage results will count toward the 2020 regular MLS season points. The eventual MLS Is Back Tournament champion will be awarded a 2021 Concacaf Champions League spot.
“The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play. We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its Clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long.”– MLS Commissioner Don Garber (Source: mlssoccer.com)
The Eastern Conference group stage will consist of two groups of four teams and one group of six teams.
Three groups of four teams will compete in the Western Conference group stage.
Groups seeds will be the four MLS Cup semi finalists from 2019, namely: champions Seattle Sounders, losing finalists LAFC, Atlanta United and Toronto FC. As a result of being the hosts, Orlando City will also be seeded, and because of their 2019 regular season performance, so will Real Salt Lake.
June 24 – Teams start to arrive in Florida
July 8 – Group stages of MLS Is Back Tournament begins
July 25 – Round of 16
July 30 – Quarter finals
August 5 – Semi finals
August 11 – Final
Strict safety measures
The tournament’s safety protocols will build upon the current routines that MLS teams have been using for their recent return to individual and group training.
According to mlssoccer.com, all 26 MLS clubs will travel to Orlando via charter plane and must arrive no later than seven days before their first match.
Prior to arriving in Florida, strict testing, tracing and screening protocols will be in place. Players and staff will then be tested every other day throughout the duration of the MLS Is Back Tournament.