Finally, we’re officially back!
One week removed from both the league and the player’s union coming to an agreement to continue play in 2020, MLS has announced a World Cup-style tournament that will beging on July 8 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This marks MLS’s return to competitive play since temporarily suspending their season back in March due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The MLS is Back Tournament (yes, that is its actual name) will feature all 26 clubs divided into 6 groups — five of 4, and one of 6 — based on conferences. These groups will be drawn on June 11.
Following a series of group stage games — which will all count towards the regular season standings — the top two clubs from each group, as well as the four best third-place finishers advance to the knockout phase of the tournament. This will all culminate with a tournament final on August 11.
The winning team of the tournament will receive both a berth into the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League as well as $1.1 million in prize money. Good rewards indeed!
According to MLS’s press release, this is the full schedule of the tournament:
- July 8: Group Stage begins
- July 25-28: Round of 16
- July 30-August 1: Quarterfinals
- August 5-6: Semifinals
- August 11: Final
To combat the ongoing health crisis regarding COVID-19, MLS has committed to several health protocols. The full list of these protocols can be found here.
Upon the tournament’s completion, the league plans to resume its 2020 season proper. To my knowledge, no word has been given about when/if the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League plans to resume play which could be a source of disappointment for New York City FC supporters. But, I’m sure we’ll happily take more soccer any way we can get it, without or without the CCL.
It feels great to be back. We’ll see you for the group stage drawing tomorrow!