Looks like the Union and the Sixers will be the first local teams to return to action following COVID-19.
The Sixers will resume play in Orlando on July 31st, and the Union will also be in Orlando, beginning a tournament on July 8th.
MLS released the following details today:
NEW YORK & LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Wednesday, June 10, 2020) – 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.
Clubs will begin arriving in Orlando as early as June 24 for preseason training. Clubs that can conduct full team training in their markets pursuant to the league’s medical and testing protocols must arrive no later than seven days before their first match.
Similar to a FIFA World Cup format, the tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EDT. The vast majority of the matches will be played in the evening. Each team will play three group stage matches, and those results will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings. After 16 consecutive days of group stage matches, the top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage. The knockout stage will include a Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and the Championship match will take place on August 11. Matches tied at the end of regulation in the knock-out phase will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout. Click HERE for the MLS is Back Tournament Competition Guidelines.
Games beginning at 9 a.m.? Gotta start early to beat the summer heat in Florida. Fine with me. Not like we’re watching any other sports at that time of the day.
I’d say the significance here is that MLS is going to be playing before the NBA, NHL, and MLB, which could potentially serve to get some eyeballs on teams that otherwise struggle for relevance in bigger markets. There’s an opportunity here for the Union to pick up some new fans while the “four for four” Philly guy is waiting for the return of football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. It also depends on whether or not these fans are getting a foreign soccer fix from England, Germany, and Spain. We’ll see how the TV numbers do and whether this domestic exclusivity helps Major League Soccer move forward.
Some more specific details here: