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“We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer. 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.”
– MLS Commissioner Don Garber
With the major sports leagues in the US all in the process of either returning or talking about doing so, it was only a matter of time before Major League Soccer got in on the act. On Wednesday morning, the MLS officially announced their plans to return. Play will begin with a tournament featuring all 26 teams duking it out in Orlando, after which we will see a return to regular season play, with all games likely to be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
The MLS is Back Tournament
To get to this point, the MLS and the Players Union needed to ratify a new CBA, which they did about a week or so ago. There have been rumors swirling about an Orlando tournament for about a month now, but the details of how that would look were included within the new agreement. Now that we have all that sorted out, let’s take a closer look at the format for the MLS is Back Tournament.
With the announcement made, teams will all beginning heading to Orlando on June 24, which is just 2 weeks away. Players have been back in full training at club facilities for a little over a week now, so this extra conditioning will get them ready for the tournament proper, which will begin on July 8. Prior to the group stage, a draw will be made, separating teams into 6 groups. The Eastern and Western Conference will have 3 groups each, with the number of teams in each group based on the number of teams in each conference.
Each team will play 3 games on the group stage, with the top two teams in each moving on. The 4 best third-place finishers will also move into the knockout stage, which will begin on July 25 and run through to the 28th. The quarterfinal and semi-finals will be played between July 20 and August 6, with the final set for August 11.
The points earned in the group will count towards the regular season totals. When teams are eliminated from the tournament, they will immediately head back to their home base to prepare for the rest of the regular season. The draw for the group stage and arrangements for the remaining games in the regular season and MLS Cup Playoffs will be announced shortly.
This is fantastic news for fans of the MLS, especially given that the league and ESPN apparently have some treats lined up in regards access and how the games are covered. Now might be the time to get yourself the ESPN+ app, as this looks as though it is going to be a ton of fun.
As soon as schedules are announced, we will start posting odds and line for all MLS games, so be sure to keep up to date at