On Wednesday the official schedule for the preliminary round of the MLS is Back tournament was announced by Major League Soccer with two weeks to go until the tournament kicks off at the Disney sporting complex near Orlando, Florida next month.
New York Red Bulls, as announced in the live group stage draw on June 11th, will face off in Group E against Atlanta United, Cincinnati FC, and the Columbus Crew. Needless to say it’s set to be a first round packed with intrigue and history alike. The Red Bulls and the Crew, both being original MLS clubs, have developed an underrated long-distance rivalry over years of intense playoff showdowns, and every RBNY-Atlanta showdown has been intense, dating back to the two clubs tangling in Atlanta’s inaugural MLS game in 2017.
In terms of specific match times, any Red Bull supporters who enjoy sleeping in can consider themselves lucky- the club avoided any matches falling in the 9 a.m. (EST) slot. For the most part, there won’t be a need to stay up late to follow the team in the opening round either, as only the July 16th contest against the Crew will be kicking off at 10:30 p.m. The other two matches, July 11th against Atlanta United, and July 22nd against Cincinnati FC, are scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m.
The Red Bulls made out particularly well in terms of television rights, with all 3 first round games being broadcast on easily-accessible major cable networks. The opening match against Atlanta is slated for the main FOX network, followed by a tilt with Columbus on FS1, before wrapping up group play against their second match of 2020 against Cincinnati on ESPN.
And if you’re seeking even more characteristically chaotic MLS soccer, you should stick around after seeing the Atlanta match. The Hell is Real Derby will kick off right after on Fox Sports 1, an Ohio Showdown currently deadlocked at a 1-1-1 all-time result stalemate.