MLS is Back tournament: 16 clubs battle for tickets to last eight

After weeks of intriguing preliminary fixtures laced with major surprises, the MLS is Back tournament enters the Round of 16 as clubs jostle for quarterfinal tickets.

On Saturday, Group A winners Orlando City SC will begin hostilities with Montreal Impact who qualified as one of the best third placed teams while Philadelphia Union clash with New England Revolution.

Toronto FC and New York City FC will rekindle their recent Eastern Conference rivalry as both sides fight for the all important ticket to the quarterfinal. NYCFC is hoping for a revenge over their Canadian nemesis who have remained a thorn in their flesh in recent time.

The New Yorkers who succumbed to Toronto in last year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs suffered a similar fate last March before the 2020 MLS was suspended, and this tie presents a perfect opportunity for revenge.

“Revenge is the right word here. When we started preseason, we still didn’t forget about the playoffs. When it mattered the most, we weren’t there. Of course we want to take revenge from last year”, " NYCFC defender Anton Tinnerholm told reporters on a video conference call Friday.

However, Toronto may have other ideas with young striker Ayo Akinola hoping to continue his scoring prowess in this competition. With five goals to his credit in the preliminary stage, coupled with the return of experienced striker Jozy Altidore, the Canadians boast of a firepower upfront that can scare every defender in the league.

The other Round of 16 encounter on Sunday is between Sporting KC and Vancouver Whitecaps.

San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake will clash on Monday before the Western Conference giants Seattle Sounders lock horns with LAFC.

On Tuesday, Group E winners Columbus Crew will entertain Minnesota United in a dicey encounter with Cincinnati FC doing battle with Portland Timbers.
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