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Major League Soccer unveils plan to return July 8 with tournament in Orlando

Sporting KC Celebrates
Posted at 9:27 AM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 10:41:39-04

Major League Soccer is back. The league fittingly announced Wednesday it will return with the "MLS is Back Tournament" next month in Orlando, Florida.

The tournament will be played without fans at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. It will feature three group-stage matches, which will count in the MLS regular season standings.

Sporting KC was undefeated through two games before the MLS season was suspended March. Manager Peter Vermes' squad leads the league in goal-differential, having outscored its first two opponents 7-1.

Group play begins July 8 among three four-team groups comprised of Western Conference teams.

The Eastern Conference will have two groups of four teams and one group of six teams. Each team will play three group stage matches. Following 16 days of group play, 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 from July 25-28 followed by quarterfinals (July 30-Aug. 1) and semifinals matches (Aug. 5-6), culminating Aug. 11 with the MLS is Back Tournament championship.

The winner of the tourney will receive an automatic bid to the 2021 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.

As the host club, Orlando City SC will be the top seed in Group A, the six-team group. The remaining top seeds will be giving to the four semifinalists from the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs and Real Salt Lake, which had the next highest point total during the West in the 2019 season.

A live draw for groups will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. Sporting KC will host an event at Children's Mercy Park for the draw,

Teams, which were allowed to resume full-squad practices this week, will begin arriving June 24 in Florida.

After the MLS is Back Tournament, the league plans to continue its regular season in home markets with a revised scheduled followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs.