SPORTS — Major League Soccer announced its return to competition on Wednesday, June 9 with the release of their World Cup style tournament to be held in Orlando, Florida. The tournament will kick off on July 8 with the finals set to be played on August 11.
The tournament will consist of 54 games total between the 26 MLS Clubs. Teams will be split into six randomly drawn groups for the Group Stage of the tournament. The group drawings will be conducted on June 11 at 12:30 p.m. PDT.
“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,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
The Eastern Conference will be split into three groups; two groups with four teams and one with six. The Western Conference will have three groups with four teams each. For 16 consecutive days, each will play three group stage matches.
Orlando City SC will be the top seed in the six-team group as they are the host city. Last season’s semi-finalist in the playoffs—Atlanta FC, Los Angeles FC, Seattle Sounders FC and Toronto FC—along with Real Salt Lake, the next highest points earned in 2019, will also be group seeds.
Nashville SC will move to the Eastern Conference and will remain there for the regular season.
The top two teams from each group along with the best four best third-place teams will advance to the Round of 16. The tournament will then undergo a single-elimination format until a champion is named.
The winner of the tournament will earn a berth into the Concacaf Champions League and $1.1 million in prize money, as well as be given points towards the regular season.
Upon conclusion of the tournament, the regular season will continue with a revised schedule, with the season hoping to end before the end of 2020.
The tournament will be played at Walt Disney World on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Teams can start arriving at the facility on June 24. All teams must be at the ESPN complex at least seven days before their first game. Personnel will be tested regularly and practice proper health protocol to ensure that illness does not run throughout the campus. No fans will be in attendance during any games.