Major League Soccer’s efforts to restart its 2020 season are still in the early stages, but more details have emerged surrounding the proposed Orlando-based tournament MLS is hoping will get its teams back on the field.
A round-robin style tournament with the league’s 26 teams broken up into four groups, group stage matches counting toward the regular season, and a knockout round tournament at the end, is how the proposed MLS tournament in Orlando would be, according to The Athletic.
The tournament format will reportedly feature four different groups, split up by conferences. Each group will compete in five matches within itself with the top two teams from each group to be featured in an eight-team, knockout-style tournament. As the regular season will extend beyond this proposed Orlando tournament, the five group-stage matches would count towards each team’s 2020 MLS Regular season records.
According to The Athletic, The plan intends to split the 2019 trophy winners – Atlanta United (U.S. Open Cup), LAFC (Supporters’ Shield), Seattle Sounders (MLS Cup) – into different groups with Orlando City, the host city’s club, as part of the fourth group.
From there, the remaining clubs will be randomly drawn into groups based on their conferences. Nashville SC, one of MLS’s 2020 expansion clubs, will temporarily move from the West to the East, so the two western conference groups will feature six clubs each while the eastern conference group will include eight.
Should the regular season continue after the proposed Orlando tournament, it will be abbreviated. Nashville SC will remain in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the season. MLS would also expand the playoffs to nine seeds per conference, and there would be no inter-conference play.
MLS hopes to have all 26 clubs arrive in Orlando in early June and resume competitive play at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports athletic complex on July 3.