MLS To Return July 8 With Tournament In Orlando

Major League Soccer is returning to play with a World Cup-style tournament set to begin July 8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

The league's 26 teams will be split into six groups. Five groups will contain four sides and the sixth will feature six franchises.

The draw for the tournament will be held Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET on and the league's social media accounts.

All of the aspects of the tournament will make the competition feel like MLS' in-league World Cup.

Just like most international tournaments, teams have been assigned seeded positions for the draw based on host location and past performance.

Host Orlando City, 2019 MLS Cup playoff semifinalists Atlanta United, LAFC, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake (most points of remaining Western Conference teams) will be the seeded teams in the draw.

For the group stage, teams will only play opponents from within their respective conferences. To accommodate the tournament format, Nashville SC has been moved from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference for the 2020 season.

The group-stage games will count as official regular-season contests. Since each team played two games before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended play, the group-stage contests will be counted as regular-season games No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5.

At some point, MLS will announce its intentions for the rest of the season, including a full playoff tournament and MLS Cup.

The top two teams from each group and the four best third-place finishers from all groups will make up the knockout-round field.

The winner of the final, which is scheduled for August 11, will earn a place in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. MLS typically gives out four CCL berths, and the Orlando tournament champion will take the spot usually handed out to the team with the best regular-season point total in the conference opposite to the Supporters' Shield winner. In 2020, that spot was awarded to New York City FC.

Before the season was suspended, the Philadelphia Union earned one point from two games and played in the last MLS regular-season game before the shutdown, a 3-3 draw with LAFC.

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