Major League Soccer officially announced the MLS is Back Tournament, which will see all 26 teams resume the 2020 regular season. The tournament will take place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida from July 8 to August 11.
According to the press release by MLS, the tournament will be played without fans in attendance and the winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. Also the group stage matches will count towards the regular season standings.
A press release by CONCACAF stated the berth for this tournament will be in place instead of awarding it to the Supporters Shield winner. Alongside the CCL berth, the winning team will also be awarded a prize of $1.1 million.
“We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber through a press release. “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.”
The tournament will feature a similar style of competition to a FIFA World Cup by having a group stage and then moving on to a knockout stage to decide the champion.
There will be six groups with three groups from the Western and Eastern Conference; all three groups from the Western Conference will consist of four teams while in the East, one group will include six teams and the other two groups will only have four teams each. For this tournament, Nashville SC will be moved into the Eastern Conference.
After three group stage matches, the top two places of each group along with the best four third-place finishers will advance to the round-of-16.
According to the release, if a match in the knockout stage finishes with a tied score, it will directly proceed to a penalty shootout.
The draw for the tournament will take place June 11 at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The six top seeds in each group will include Orlando SC (host city), Atlanta United, LAFC, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC (2019 MLS Cup playoffs semifinalists) and Real Salt Lake (the team with the next highest points total in the Western Conference from the 2019 season).
Major League Soccer will be implementing a plan all throughout the tournament when it comes to the safety of players and staff from COVID-19. For more information, click HERE.
According to the release, MLS plans to continue the 2020 season after the MLS is Back tournament but it will release more information in the upcoming weeks.
Here is a broad schedule of the MLS is Back tournament:
June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
July 8: MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins
July 25-28: Round-of-16
July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
August 5-6: Semifinals
August 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final