Major League Soccer has announced that it will resume its season on July 8th after being suspended since the second week of March.
But there will be a twist as the league will restructure how this season will continue, as well as finding a solution to earning a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League. All 26 teams will be located in Orlando where they will share lodging and facilities at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex owned by league media partner Disney.
There will be six groups, to begin with, five groups of four and one group of six. The draw will have six sides seeded for the top spot in each group as Orlando City will be the host team. Followed by the 2019 MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders, 2019 MLS Cup Runners Up Toronto FC, Atlanta United & LAFC as MLS Cup Playoff semi-finalists, finally Real Salt Lake who were the next highest total points in the Western Conference.
After the draw has been complete, there will be sixteen straight days of games with three at a time scheduled at 9 AM, 8 PM & 10:30 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time until July 23rd.
The top two sides in each group and the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament and then play in a sixteen-team knockout tournament. Group stage games will count towards the eventual regular season records of all clubs involved.
Once the tournament has been concluded. the regular season will continue with all sides playing in their respective stadiums and that revised schedule will be announced at a later date.
“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. ”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.”
New York Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett also weighed in about this tournament to restart the season. “We are all very excited about the return of our league with the MLS is Back tournament, our players and staff have been working hard to make sure we are ready to compete.
“It will be a new and unique experience for all of us. We look forward to getting back to competitive games in an environment that puts health and safety of everyone involved first.”
All matches during this tournament will be broadcast on ESPN, Fox Sports & Univision. But for now we can breath a bit easier as this season will continue and we can have a finished product to signal the end of the 2020 season.