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Report: Format details revealed for proposed MLS tournament

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.


  1. Keep the games in Texas, Florida and Georgia.
    Maybe, some games in neutral ground (if the State is open).

  2. I dont get the “tournament”

    why not have the abbreviated season and with a MLS Cup champion?

    seems very doable

    • Could be a couple reasons, one might be tv contracts, if these were just regular season games they would then fall under regular tv deals with local broadcast rights and shared between fox and ESPN. It sounds like all games were going to be on ESPN. Another would be to drum up interest in casual viewers, these games really mean something, instead of the usual MLS regular season were games are pretty meaningless (4th best record playing 9th best record for title). Last encourages players to play and try since as mentioned above regular season record tends to not mean much in MLS.

  3. Especially unfair considering that Orlando will benefit from having pretty much their usual home attendance! :^)

  4. Orlando is absolutely the wrong place at the wrong time. It should be in several sites where it will be cooler and where the problem is less severe than Florida. Also, it should be later in the summer when the infection is less.

  5. I can’t believe they are going to a state where they are treating Covid like it’s the flu. If I’m a player I’m thinking twice about this. Orlando?!

    • It sounds like the NWSL is considering Salt Lake City as their isolation city – this seems a lot smarter. Florida is not taking the epidemic seriously (which might be one of the reasons why MLS chose it…).

    • You have to consider the industry around Orlando, though. How many other cities could host 28 groups of 35 people who all need to be quarantined separately? The hospitality industry in Orlando makes this perfectly doable.


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