While the return of Major League Soccer may not have always been at the top of the priority list for football fans around the world, there’s no denying the fact that it is one of the fastest rising leagues on the planet. Sure, it’s big and brash, but in an environment as competitive as this one, you have to be.
Many were wondering what they were going to do in terms of returning to action, and now, we have the answer: the MLS is Back Tournament.
It’s something very different to what the rest of the major leagues are trying to produce, as announced by MLS themselves.
“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 compelling way for MLS to resume its 25th season. Group stage matches will count in the MLS regular season standings and the tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
“We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season
and get back to playing soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “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.”
June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
July 8: MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins
July 25-28: Round-of-16
July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
August 5-6: Semifinals
August 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final
MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT – July 8 – August 11
Number of Matches: 54 (39 group; 15 knockout)
No. of matchdays: 26
Format: Group Stage, followed by Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals &
Minimum Matches: 3 (per club)
Maximum Matches: 7 (per club)”
Complicated? Maybe. Exciting? Definitely.
We all know that there are plenty of players and clubs out there who probably aren’t big fans of the idea, mainly because returning to any kind of competitive action seems a little bit dangerous. Still, in the current climate, it doesn’t appear as if they have much of a choice if they’re serious about getting back out there and playing.
It’s not like all eyes are going to be on the MLS for this anyway, as a direct result of the UFC and other sports already coming back, but perhaps they could draw in a few casual eyes to the product that may stick around in the long term.
Football is back, whichever way you look at it, and Major League Soccer is helping to lead the charge.