NORTH AMERICA

MLS clubs gear up for special tournament as professional soccer returns in July


Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs have begun preparations for the special tournament that will usher in the return of the 2020 MLS season after the league was postponed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The special tournament dubbed the ‘MLS is Back’ will feature all the 26 teams housed in six groups. A total of 54 matches would be played with regular season points in the group stage and a spot in 2021 CONCACAF Champions League on the line.

The all-new tournament will begin on July 8 with group stage matches. Round of 16 encounters are scheduled between July 25 and July 28 with quarterfinal games taking place between July 30 and August 1. August 5-6 will see the semifinalists in action with the grand finale fixed for August 11.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida will host the tournament. The Western Conference side of the draw has pitched defending MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders in Group B alongside Cascadia rivals Vancouver. LAFC and the LA Galaxy headline Group F with Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers.

The highlights of the Eastern Conference draw saw Canadian rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact drawn against each other in Group C and 2018 MLS Cup champions Atlanta United paired with the Columbus Crew, FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bulls.

MLS is Back draw:

GROUP A (Eastern Conference): Orlando City SC, Inter Miami CF, New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Nashville SC

GROUP B (Western Conference): Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes

GROUP C (Eastern Conference):Toronto FC, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, D.C. United

GROUP D (Western Conference):Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United

GROUP E (Eastern Conference):Atlanta United, FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew SC

GROUP F (Western Conference):LAFC, LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers
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