The name of the tournament says it all: MLS is Back!
In just a few weeks, the Seattle Sounders will depart for Orlando, Fla., as they prepare to resume competition. Battling it out in a brand new tournament, the Rave Green will venture to Sunshine State with one objective in mind: adding another piece of hardware to their trophy case.
Here’s everything you need to know:
When and Where
The tournament will officially kickoff on July 8, with the title match taking place on August 11. Teams will begin to arrive in Florida as early as June 24 and no later than seven days before their first match, as clubs will get acclimated to their new environment and ramp up full-team training.
The teams will train and play matches at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a sporting paradise nestled inside the Walt Disney World Resort.
Designed with a World Cup-style structure, the MLS Is Back Tournament will begin with a group phase with games beginning at 6 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. PT. The vast majority of which will be played in the evening. Nashville SC will play in the Eastern Conference side of the bracket, taking the total teams in that division to 14. The remaining 12 Western Conference teams will be divvied into three groups of four, while the East will have two groups of four and one six-team group.
In total, there will be six seeded teams assigned as the top side in each group. As the reigning MLS Cup champions, Sounders FC received an automatic seeded spot. The next three seeded spots were awarded to the remaining three teams that competed in the Western and Eastern Conference Finals in 2019. Joining that quartet is Real Salt Lake, who had the next highest points total in the West, while Orlando City SC will be given the top seed in Group A, which will be the six-team group.
As for the rest of the teams? They’ll be assigned to groups based on an unweighted draw, which will take place on Thursday, June 11 at 12:30 pm. PT MLSsoccer.com, as well as MLS Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Each club is guaranteed a minimum of three matches, which will count towards the regular season standings when regular season play resumes after the tournament
- PRESS RELEASE: MLS is Back: All 26 Teams to Resume Season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Starting July 8
Following the group stage, the winners and runners-up from each group will automatically advance to the Round of 16, accompanied by the two best third-placed finishers. From there, it will be a single-elimination competition, with a champion crowned on August 11.
When all is said and done, the 26 teams will have combined for 54 matches played, all of which will be televised nationally.
Once the knockout rounds get underway, the teams will be vying for a $1.1 million prize, a trophy and an automatic berth in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. However, only the group stage matches will count toward the regular season standings, as teams that progress will play an uneven number of games.
As is the case in every competition they enter, the Sounders will be fixated on bringing home some hardware.
Teams that fail to advance to the knockout rounds will return to their home markets following the group stage, where they can continue training ahead of the regular season recommencing.
Keep up with the Club in Orlando
Stay up to date on all things Rave Green as they compete this summer. You'll get a run down of what to expect each time the team advances to a new stage and receive Tune In reminders on matchdays.