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MLS announces ‘MLS Is Back Tournament’ to start July 8th

MLS is returning on July 8th with a 26-team tournament. We break down all the details of the announcement for that and the returning regular season.

A general view of Orlando City Stadium during the soccer match between the visiting Columbus Crew and the Orlando City Lions on October 21, 2018, at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, FL. Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Major League Soccer has finalized plans for its return to competitive play this summer. One week after the players and owners came to terms on economics and an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, the league announced plans for its “MLS Is Back Tournament.”

The tournament is scheduled to start on July 8th with a group stage involving all 26 clubs in six groups. One group would include six teams, and the remaining five would include four teams apiece. Orlando City SC is the host team, and will be placed in the six-team group. The four semifinalists from the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs – Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC – will join Orlando as group seeds, along with Real Salt Lake (the next highest points total in the Western Conference from the 2019 season).

The group stage would be followed by four rounds of knockout play featuring the top two clubs from each group and four best third place finishers. The winner of the tournament would earn the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League spot.

The group stage matches would count toward 2020 regular season standings. Once the tournament is complete, MLS will continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and the MLS Cup. The regular season will see Nashville SC placed in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the 2020 season.


  • June 11, 3:30 p.m.: Draw to determine the placing of the 26 teams into six groups
  • June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
  • July 8: MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins with matches at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET each day
  • July 25-28: Round of 16 begins
  • July 30- Aug. 1: Tournament Quarterfinals
  • August 5-6: Tournament Semifinals
  • August 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final