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Major League Soccer is back: All you need to know

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Major League Soccer has announced that the American league will return on July 8 amid the coronavirus pandemic. It will no longer run as a league for the rest of the season but in a tournament format which is tagged MLS is Back Tournament.

The tournament will last for four weeks and 54 matches will be played including the grand finale on August 11. The winner of the tournament will earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

MLS was suspended on March 12 due to the pandemic. Before it was suspended, all the 26 teams in the league had played 2 matches each. Since then, no football action was recorded across the United States of America and Canada until recently when clubs were permitted to resume training.

In the new arrangement of the Major League Soccer, all the clubs will converge at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, in Florida, where the MLS is back tournament will take place.

According to a statement from MLS commissioner Don Garber, the decision to bring all the teams to one controlled environment will help the MLS to ensure that the health of players, coaches and other personnel are protected.

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On June 24, the MLS teams are expected to start arriving at Disney World Resort to continue their preparation for the MLS is back tournament. Though there is room for teams to stay in their home markets to train, teams that decide to do so must ensure that they resume to the resort at least 7 days before the commencement of their first match.

The format of the Major League Soccer is Back Tournament

The format of the Major League Soccer is Back Tournament

The tournament is structured like the FIFA World Cup. It will have a group stage, knockout stage, quarterfinals, semifinals and then the final which will hold on August 11.

In the group stage, the 26 teams will be divided into six groups. Each team is expected to play three matches at the group stage. After the three matches have been played, the teams that finish first and second on the group table and four best teams in the tournament will progress into the knockout stage which is the round of 16.

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To ensure that all teams fall into a group, Nashville SC will join the Eastern Conference which will enable the conference to have three groups. One of the three groups will consist of four teams while the other two will consist of four teams. Also, the Western Conference will be made up of three groups which will consist of four teams each.

The tournament will start with three matches per day. Teams will know the group they fall into and the teams they will play against on Thursday, June 12, as the draw of the tournament will be done on the said date.

MLS said players will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool during the tournament. Teams will also be allowed to make 5 substitutions per match at the tournament.

The regular MLS season will commence after the ‘MLS is back tournament’ and the coronavirus pandemic has been put under control. The regular season will see matches return to home markets. Also, the MLS Cup playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup will take place after the tournament but no date has been agreed upon yet.

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The schedule of Major League Soccer is Back Tournament

Phase, Round and Match dates

Group stage

July 8 – 23, 2020

Matchday 1
Matchday 2
Matchday 3

Knockout stage

Round of 16 – July 25–28, 2020

Quarter-finals – July 30 – August 1, 2020

Semi-finals – August 5–6, 2020

Final – August 11, 2020

Here are the groupings

GROUP A (Eastern Conference)

  1. Orlando City SC
  2. Inter Miami CF
  3. New York City FC
  4. Philadelphia Union
  5. Chicago Fire
  6. Nashville SC

GROUP B (Western Conference)

  1. Seattle Sounders
  2. FC Dallas
  3. Vancouver Whitecaps
  4. San Jose Earthquakes

GROUP C (Eastern Conference)

  1. Toronto FC
  2. New England Revolution
  3. Montreal Impact
  4. D.C. United

GROUP D (Western Conference)

  1. Real Salt Lake
  2. Sporting Kansas City
  3. Colorado Rapids
  4. Minnesota United

GROUP E (Eastern Conference)

  1. Atlanta United
  2. FC Cincinnati
  3. New York Red Bulls
  4. Columbus Crew SC

GROUP F (Western Conference)

  1. LAFC
  2. LA Galaxy
  3. Houston Dynamo
  4. Portland Timbers

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