After the initial challenges that arose when multiple members of both FC Dallas and Nashville SC tested positive for COVID-19 before entering the tournament’s bubble, Major League Soccer has been able to contest the MLS is Back tournament with relatively few issues .
One game was delayed due to concerns about unclear testing, and another was delayed by lightning in the region, but the games were played largely on schedule and with no apparent additional absence due to coronavirus-related issues.
Stars have emerged (notably Toronto striker Ayo Akinola) and others confirming their excellence (Diego Rossi from LAFC). Those two lead the tournament with five goals each.
Portland striker Jeremy Ebobisse and Orlando midfielder Chris Mueller have taken the next steps towards excellence, each scoring three goals. Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan scored twice for the Columbus Crew and showed talent that the club record transfer fee was worth acquiring.
There was a stunning rise from Columbus to three wins in the group stage, the only team to win each of its games, and the amazing failure of Atlanta United that finished in the top four teams of its division over the past three seasons and won the MLS Cup title of 2018, but failed to register one goal in Group E.
It’s getting really serious now, as the remaining 16 teams advance to the elimination rounds.
When will the MLS Back Tournament knockout rounds begin?
- Round of 16: July 25-28
- Quarter-finals: July 30 – Aug. 1
- Semi-finals: August 5-6
- Last: August 11
The group stage of the tournament started on July 8, with a game between Orlando City FC and Inter Miami CF won by Orlando 2–1 on a late goal from Portuguese star Nani.
It was completed on July 23 and Inter, Chicago Fire, DC United, Colorado Rapids, Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy were eliminated.
The round of 16 begins on July 25 with two elimination games and the tournament continues through August 11.
The champion will receive an automatic berth in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.
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MLS is Back knockout rounds schedule, TV times
The Round of 16 started on Saturday with the Orlando City-Montreal Impact game at 8:00 PM ET, followed by 10:30 PM by Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution.
Each of the four Roundof 16 days contains two games.
Games are broadcast by ESPN, ESPN 2 and FS1 in the US and TSN in Canada.
In the US, games on FS1 are also streamed live fuboTV, which offers a 7-day free trial.
Round of 16
|Date||Time (ET)||Game||Result / TV / livestream|
|July 25||8 pm||Orlando City SC vs. Montreal Impact (Match 37)||Orlando City 1, Montreal 0|
|July 25||10.30 pm||Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution (match 38)||Philadelphia 1, New England 0|
|July 26||8:30 in the evening||Toronto FC vs. New York City FC (match 39)||NYC FC 3, Toronto FC 1|
|July 26||11 pm||Kansas City vs. Sporting Vancouver Whitecaps (Match 40)||0-0 (SKC wins 3-1 after penalties)|
|July 27||8:30 in the evening||San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake (Match 41)||FS1 /fuboTV (US), TSN (CAN)|
|July 27||11 pm||Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC (match 42)||FS1 /fuboTV (US), TSN (CAN)|
|July 28||8 pm||Columbus Crew vs. Minnesota United (Match 43)||ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)|
|July 28||10.30 pm||Portland Timbers vs. FC Cincinnati (match 44)||ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)|
|July 30||8 pm||Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City||ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)|
|July 31||7:30 PM||Orlando City SC vs. winner of Match 42||FS1 (US), TSN (CAN)|
|1 August||8 pm||Winner of game 41 vs. winner of match 43||ESPN 2 (US), TSN (CAN)|
|1 August||10.30 pm||New York City FC vs. winner of match 44||FS1 (US), TSN (CAN)|
August 5, 8:00 PM, FS1 (US), TSN (CAN)
August 6, 8:00 PM, ESPN 2 (US), TSN (CAN)
August 11, 8:00 PM, ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)
Where is the MLS is Back tournament?
The tournament will be held in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando, which contains 17 fields that can be used for football training or competition.
The match is limited to one main field, adjacent to the main arena of the complex, which is set up with video scoreboards, benches and a television tower.
Disney opened the complex in 1997, and it includes a basketball court house and other courts that will be used for the return of the NBA, as well as baseball and softball courts and a court.
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Explanation of the MLS is Back format
The MLS Back tournament is similar to a World Cup. It would originally be a 26-team “World Cup” that none of us have seen, but the bubble issues that FC Dallas and Nashville SC experienced with positive COVID-19 testing caused the field to shrink to 24.
The teams were then aligned into six groups of four teams, labeled A through F, with each team playing one game each against the other three members of its group. All games in the group stage counted as a classification in the regular season. Dallas and Nashville will have to make up the three games they each missed at a later date.
The top two teams from each of those groups qualified for the knockout stages and the top four third place finishers in terms of points accumulated. In rounds 16 and up, teams play a single elimination format.
There will be no overtime in elimination games. Any game that remains the same after the prescribed 90 minutes is decided by a penalty shootout.
Unlike the group stage of the tournament, which was divided into morning and evening matches, all matches in the knockout phase are played at night.