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Everything You Need to Know About the MLS is Back Tournament

Written by: Christian Jope
Updated October 14, 2022
8 min read
Mls Is Back Tournament
  • On June 10, the MLS announced its return via tournament.
  • The MLS tournament will be held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
  • The MLS has been suspended since March 12, 2020.

“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.”

– Don Garber, MLS Commisioner

With the world slowly making strides against the coronavirus pandemic, the sports world has been one of the leaders in bringing normalcy back. Most major leagues in the United States have been on hiatus since mid-March, with only smaller leagues and the combat sports operating individual events at private locations.

The NBA and the NHL were the first to announce their return to play and now the MLS is joining the fray. Suspended since March 12, with only two matches played by every team, the MLS has lost more of its season than any other American Major League.

The point of the MLS is Back Tournament is not to replace the regular season and playoff, but to find a reasonable way to make up for missed matches before continuing the season at a later date. The MLS is Back tournament will be held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

How Will the MLS Return?

For the first time since MLS play was suspended in March, MLS teams are returning to the pitch. While some teams have been back to training since the beginning of the month, the tournament to replace part of the regular season will officially begin on July 8, 2020.

What fans will be seeing is a tournament format similar to how the FIFA World Cup is structured.

“MLS is Back Tournament” Breakdown

  • Tournament will take place from July 8th to August 11th.
  • There will be 54 total matches played, over the course of 26 matchdays.
    • Minimum number of matches: Three per club.
    • Maximum number of matches: Seven for each Finalist.
  • Progression: Group Stage > Round of 16 > Quarter Finals > Semifinals > Championship

Group Stage Information

With the introduced format, the MLS will be holding a draw on Thursday, June 11 at 3:30 PM EST in order to divide the 26 MLS teams into groups of six.

The top group seeds will be as follows:

  • The top four semi-finalists from he 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs
    • Toronto FC, Atlanta United, Seattle Sounders, and LAFC.
  • Orlando City SC, as the host city, will also be a top group seed.
  • With the next highest points total in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake will be the sixth and final top group seed.

The top two teams in each group and the four best third-place teams across the groups will  proceed into the knockout stages.

Five out of six groups will be comprised of four teams. One Eastern Conference group will be composed of six groups.

Knockout Stage Information

Any matches that result in a draw at the conclusion of regulation will immediately proceed to penalty kicks.


July 8: Group Stage
July 25 to July 28: Round of 16
July 30 to August 1: Quarter-Finals
August 5 to August 6: Semi-Finals
August 11: Final

What Are Teams Playing For?

There will be 39 matches played over the course of the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament. Each match played will count toward teams’ points total in the regular-season table.

In an agreement with CONCACAF, the MLS is Back Tournament winner will win an automatic berth in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League regardless of whether the team will be based in Canada or the United States.

There is also a cash prize involved. The winners of the MLS is Back Tournament will be able to earn bonuses on top of the $1.1 million prize pool.

How to Watch

The MLS intends to capitalize on the quiet sports market by broadcasting its 54 tournament matches across each of its partnered networks.

None of the matches are intended to overlap, so fans will be able to view up to three matches a day. Matches are expected to be played at 9:00 AM, 8:00 PM, and 10:30 PM EST.

How to Make Wagers on MLS is Back Tournament Matches

With the MLS coming back, there are now almost 50 different soccer leagues across the world that are available to make bets on.

The MLS will be the first American major sports league to return to play should their scheduled July 8th return maintain.

There are a number of sportsbooks that will be offering bets on the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament. For the best information on which sportsbook is for you, WSN has an excellent catalog of sportsbook reviews to help find your perfect match!

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Christian Jope

1489 Articles

Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.

Email: [email protected]

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