For the first time since play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, MLS teams will take to the field beginning on July 8 for a unique tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World Resort in Florida.
July 8 – August 11
54 matches (39 group stage; 15 knockout round)
Format: Group Stage, Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Championship
Minimum Matches: Three per club
Maximum Matches: Seven per finalist
June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
July 8: MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins
July 25-28: Round of 16 begins
July 30- Aug. 1: Tournament Quarterfinals
August 5-6: Tournament Semifinals
August 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final
Similar to a FIFA World Cup, the tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 am, 8 pm and 10:30 pm EST, with the majority of the matches to be played in the evening.
The 26 teams will be split into six groups.
The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one of six teams and two with four teams each.
The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.
Each team will play three group stage matches over the course of 16 consecutive days.
The top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage, beginning with the Round of 16.
If two or more clubs are tied on points in the group stage, MLS regular season tiebreaking procedures are used.
The tiebreakers for determining the four 3rd-placed clubs are: (1) points, (2) goal differential, (3) goals scored, (4) fewest disciplinary points.
Group Stage Tournament Draw:
A draw for the tournament will take place on Thursday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET to determine the placing of the 26 teams into six groups.
Nashville SC will be placed in the Eastern Conference and will remain in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the 2020 season.
As the “host” team, Orlando City SC will be the top seed in the six-team group.
The four semifinalists from the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs – Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC – will join Orlando as group seeds, along with Real Salt Lake (the next highest points total in the Western Conference from the 2019 season).
Full Group Stage Draw details
Knockout round matches that finish tied at the end of regulation will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.
What’s at stake?
Regular Season points: Each of the 39 group-stage games will count for points toward the 2020 regular-season standings.
Concacaf Champions League spot: In a one-time change to MLS berths to the annual Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, the MLS is Back Tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, regardless of whether it is a U.S. or Canadian club. This berth replaces the one traditionally awarded to the regular-season conference leader that did not win the Supporters’ Shield.
Prize Money: In addition to matches that count in the regular-season standings and competing for bragging rights, the MLS is Back Tournament will give players the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.