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MLS is Back: Details on the Orlando Tournament

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FC Dallas will hear who they will face in the group stage tomorrow.

Major League Soccer today announced the league’s plan to restart the 2020 season with all 26 MLS clubs competing in the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida beginning July 8.

The tournament, which will be played without fans in attendance, provides a way for MLS to resume its 25th season.

Here are the details as we know it from today’s press release:

When will clubs arrive in Orlando?

Clubs will begin arriving in Orlando as early as June 24 for preseason training. Clubs that can conduct full team training in their markets pursuant to the league’s medical and testing protocols must arrive no later than seven days before their first match.

Where will the games be played at?

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

How many games will FC Dallas and the others get to play?

A minimum of three games with a maximum of seven should they advance to the finals on August 11.

What time will the games be played?

Similar to a FIFA World Cup format, the tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 8 a.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. CDT. The vast majority of the matches will be played in the evening.

How will the group stage games be counted towards the 2020 season?

Each team will play three group stage matches, and those results will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings. After 16 consecutive days of group stage matches, the top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage. The knockout stage will include a Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and the Championship match will take place on August 11.

What does the winner get from this tournament?

The tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.

The winner would replace the berth previously awarded to the MLS regular season points leader in the conference opposite of the 2020 Supporters’ Shield winner.

Will this tournament allow more subs per the new FIFA rule for 2020?

Yes, the substitution limit for the tournament will follow the new protocol set by the IFAB and allow five substitutions per match. In addition, teams may name up to 23 players on each official match day roster.

When will we know who FC Dallas is playing?

Tomorrow actually. The 26 MLS teams will be drawn into one of six groups during a live draw that will take place tomorrow, Thursday, June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CDT. For the remainder of the 2020 MLS season, Nashville SC will be moved to the Eastern Conference. The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one consisting of six teams and two consisting of four teams each. The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.

Are there teams already seeded for the groups like in a World Cup?

As the host club, Orlando City SC will be given the top seed in Group A, which will be the six-team group, and will play in the first match on July 8. The five remaining seeds will consist of the four semifinalists from the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs – Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC – and Real Salt Lake (the team with the next highest points total in the Western Conference from the 2019 season). The seeded teams will be drawn into their respective groups first and then the remaining 20 clubs will be drawn and distributed across the conference-based groups.

How will this be televised?

Those details were not announced but given that this tournament is being hosted by Disney, which owns ABC and the ESPN family of channels, you can bet that a fair amount of games will appear on those channels.