Orlando City, Inter Miami kick off league’s return on July 8
By Official Florida FC
Major League Soccer released its fixture list for its in-season tournament, MLS is Back. The five-week tournament will feature all 26 teams vying for a trophy and a spot in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
MLS is Back was devised by the league in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All matches will be played in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The MLS regular season will continue after the tournament’s conclusion on Aug. 11.
“The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a statement. “We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its Clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long.”
Floyd was killed by an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. Since that time, multiple MLS clubs and players have used their platforms to denouce racism, demand accountability for police and call for other reforms to systemic racism.
As important as those issues are, and remain, soccer is that platform that allowed players like 2019 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and FC Dallas midfielder Fafa Picault to speak out. Both men will play in the MLS is Back Tournament. Minnesota United is in Group D, while Picault and FC Dallas are in Group B.
The league’s 26 teams were placed into six groups. Five of the groups will have four teams while Group A, which is home to both of Florida’s MLS clubs, has six teams.
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D||Group E||Group F|
|Orlando City||Seattle||Toronto FC||Real Salt Lake||Atlanta United||Los Angeles FC|
|Inter Miami||FC Dallas||New England||Sporting Kansas City||FC Cincinnati||LA Galaxy|
|NYC FC||Vancouver||Montreal||Colorado||New York Red Bulls||Houston|
|Philadelphia||San Jose||D.C. United||Minnesota||Columbus||Portland|
The top three teams in Group A will advance to the Round of 16. The top two teams in the five other groups will also advance to the Round of 16. The three final entrants in the Round of 16 will be determined by points earned.
Though Group A has six teams, each team will only play three matches in the MLS is Back Tournament.