Major League Soccer is back.
The league will return on July 8 to kick-off the long-rumored 26-team tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. The World Cup-style tournament will see each team play at least three group stage games, with the top 16 moving on into the knockout stages of the tournament, which will conclude with the Final set for August 11.
The draw to determine the groups will be held on Thursday, June 11, at 3:30 p.m ET. As the “host” city, Orlando City will be the top seed of the tournament.
To this point, the stakes of the tournament have been unclear, but the league has announced that in addition to each of the three group stage games counting towards the regular season standings, the winning club will earn an automatic spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League (replacing the spot previously given to the conference winner that didn’t win the Supporters’ Shield), as well as player prize pool of $1.1 million.
What comes after the tournament is still in the works, but MLS did announce that the current plan is to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup.
- 54 games across 26 match-days
- Games will kick off at 9 a.m., 8 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. ET
- 26 teams split into six groups
- The Eastern Conference will have one group of six and two groups of four (Nashville SC will be placed in the East for this tournament)
- The Western Conference will have three groups of four
- Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC, and Real Salt Lake make up the other five top seeds in each group
- 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.
- Knockout games that end of ties will go straight into penalty kicks
- Match-day rosters of 23 players
- Five subs per game allowed
- All games will have VAR access
No details have been announced regarding the broadcast schedule as of now, but the expectation is that all games will air on national TV across the platforms of ESPN, FOX, and Univision.
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