MLS Is Back Tournament Scheduled for July
This week, the Major League Soccer announced its plans for the restarting of the 2020 season. All 26 MLS clubs will complete in a special MLS is Back Tournament at the Walt Disney World Resort Florida’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, kicking off on July 8. All games will be played without spectators physically present; the league has announced.
The league is of the opinion that the tournament, even without spectators in the stands, is the best possible way for the MLS to resume its 25th season and is a welcome alternative as opposed to no play at all for the remainder of the year. The league furthermore announced that all matches played in the group stages will count towards regular season standings. The ultimate winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
Format Similar To FIFA World Cup
Not unlike that followed by a typical FIFA World Cup, the format of the tournament will involve a continuous schedule of games played daily. All matches will commence at 8am, 7pm and again at 9:30pm. The league did however indicate that the majority of games played in the reopening tournament will be played in one or both of the evening timeslots.
Sixteen consecutive days of group stage play will eventually result in the two top teams from each of the three group stage matches qualifying for the knockout stage. The top performing teams will be joined in the knockout stage by the four leading third-place group stage finishers.
As for the format of the knockout stage, this will include a round of 16 games played, a quarterfinals match, a semifinals match, and finally, a championship match that will be played on August 11.
Canada & U.S. To Play Concacaf
Important to note too is that the winner of the MLS is Back Tournament will earn the mentioned 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions league spot irrespective of whether that team is a Canadian or a U.S. club. Also, the winning club will replace the spot earlier on awarded to the points leader in the Major League Soccer regular season as determined in the conference opposite of the 2020 Supporters’ Shield champion. In addition to points, players will be the special opportunity of being in a position to earn bonuses that will form part of a superb extra $1.1 million prize pool.
As for substitution limits, 5 will be allowed per match played. Also, teams will be allowed to pick up to 23 players to compete on every official match day. The entire MLS is Back Tournament will be subject to a comprehensive health and safety plan, which plan will include a elaborate testing plan.