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MLS’s Back Tournament updated schedule, TV channels, format and more to know about 2020 reboot

In the days after the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world by the World Health Organization was declared a global pandemic, every major sports organization in the world closed its activities in the hope that quarantine participation would help prevent the disease even greater damage.

Until recently, the only top sports leagues to have successfully returned to football included the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga in Europe, NWSL here in the United States.

Major League Soccer launched its attempt with the MLS is Back Tournament this week.

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The league determined the quickest route to get its players back into action and taking to the field would be to create a “bubble” in a particular location with enough hotel space and practice fields to accommodate all teams. That brought them to Orlando and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

However, Florida gradually became (and quickly thereafter) one of the hottest areas of the country regarding the spread of the coronavirus, raising concerns about officials’ ability to prevent COVID-19 from entering the MLS bubble.

That didn’t help when several members of the FC Dallas squad tested positive for the virus after arriving in Orlando and several more were discovered in the following days. On Monday, Dallas was excused for the tournament. The league eventually added Nashville SC to the withdrawn list, after a total of nine players tested positive and the team had to stop training. The Colorado Rapids delayed their flight to Orlando because of two positive tests. Because of the two shots, the Chicago Fire was moved from Group A to Group B, giving the tournament six groups of four teams.

Overall, however, MLS has had relatively few players take positive COVID tests and should be able to complete their tournament – as long as the bubble approach limits the virus to the outside world.

All matches of the group stage of the tournament count towards the regular season records of teams. MLS hopes to resume competition in home locations (with or without spectators) upon completion of the MLS is Back tournament.

When does the MLS is Back tournament begin?

The opening game was Wednesday, July 8, and corresponded with Orlando City and Inter Miami CF, one of the two new franchises in the league for 2020. Both teams played two games when the league ended in early March.

Orlando City, led by longtime Nani international from Manchester United, had split the first two games. Inter has a potential league star in midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro and is still looking for his first MLS win. Nani finished the winning goal in extra time for a 2-1 win in Orlando City.

The first morning game, which matched the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC, took place on Thursday, July 9, with the Union winning 1-0.

The first start of the “West Coast”, which kicked off at 10:30 PM ET, was on July 11, a Hell is Real Derby between FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew. The Crew rolled into a 4-0 win.

MORE: The FC Dallas removal is not a sign that MLS’s Back tournament should go

MLS is back on schedule 2020

  • Group game: July 8-23
  • Round of 16: July 25-28
  • Quarter-finals: July 30 – Aug. 1
  • Semi-finals: August 5-6
  • Championship: August 11
DateMatchingKick-off time (ET)TV
8 JulyOrlando City vs. Inter Miami CF8 pmESPN / TSN
July 9New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union9 o’clockESPN / TSN
July 9Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution8 pmTUDN / TSN
10th of JulySeattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes9 o’clock in the eveningESPN / TSN
July 11Atlanta United versus Red Bulls from New York8 pmFox / TUDN / TSN
July 11FC Cincinnati against Columbus Crew10.30 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
July 12thKansas City vs. Sporting Minnesota United8 pmESPN / TSN
July 12thReal Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids10.30 pmESPN / TSN
July 13Toronto FC against DC United9 o’clockESPN2 / TSN
July 13Los Angeles FC vs. Houston Dynamo8 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
July 13LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers10.30 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
14th of JulyChicago Fire vs. Seattle Sounders9 o’clockESPN / TSN
14th of JulyOrlando City vs. New York City FC8 pmTUDN / TSN
14th of JulyPhiladelphia Union vs. Inter Miami CF10.30 pmTUDN / TSN
July 15Montreal Impact against Toronto FC8 pmTUDN / TSN
July 15Vancouver Whitecaps vs. earthquakes in San Jose10.30 pmTUDN / TSN
16th of JulyAtlanta United against FC Cincinnati9 o’clockESPN / TSN
16th of JulyDC United vs. New England Revolution8 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
16th of JulyColumbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls10.30 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
July 17Kansas City vs. Sporting Colorado Rapids8 pmESPN / TSN
July 17Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United10.30 pmESPN / TSN
July 18Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo8 pmESPN / TSN
July 18Los Angeles FC against LA Galaxy10.30 pmESPN / TSN
July 19Chicago Fire vs. San Jose earthquakes8 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
July 19Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps10.30 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
July 20Inter Miami CF vs. New York City FC9 o’clockESPN / TSN
July 20Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City8 pmTUDN / TSN
21 JulyToronto FC vs. New England Revolution9 o’clockESPN / TSN
21 JulyAtlanta United vs. Columbus Crew8 pmTUDN / TSN
21 JulyMontreal Impact vs. DC United10.30 pmTUDN / TSN
July 22Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City9 o’clockESPN / TSN
July 22FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls8 pmESPN / TSN
July 22Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United10.30 pmESPN / TSN
July 23Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps9 o’clockESPN / TSN
July 23LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo8 pmFS1 / TUDN / TSN
July 23Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers10.30 pmESPN 2 / TSN

Round of 16

DateTime (ET)GameTV / live stream
July 258 pmOrlando City vs. Montreal Impact (Match 37)ESPN 2 (US), TSN (CAN)
July 2510.30 pmPhiladelphia Union vs. New England Revolution (match 38)ESPN 2 (US), TSN (CAN)
July 268:30 in the eveningToronto FC vs. New York City FC (match 39)FS1 / fuboTV (US), TSN (CAN)
July 2611 pmKansas City vs. Sporting Vancouver Whitecaps (Match 40)FS1 / fubo / TV (US), TSN (CAN)
July 278:30 in the eveningSan Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake (Match 41)FS1 / fuboTV (US), TSN (CAN)
July 2711 pmSeattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC (match 42)FS1 / fuboTV (US), TSN (CAN)
July 288 pmColumbus Crew vs. Minnesota United (Match 43)ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)
July 2810.30 pmPortland Timbers vs. FC Cincinnati (match 44)ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)

Quarter-finals

DateTimeGameTV
July 308 pmWinner Match 38 vs. Winner Match 40ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)
July 317:30 PMWinner Match 37 vs. Winner Match 42FS1 (US), TSN (CAN)
1 August8 pmWinner Match 41 vs. Winner Match 43ESPN 2 (US), TSN (CAN)
1 August10.30 pmWinner Match 39 vs. Winner Match 44FS1 (US), TSN (CAN)

Semi-finals

August 5, 8:00 PM, FS1 (US), TSN (CAN)

August 6, 8:00 PM, ESPN 2 (US), TSN (CAN)

Last

August 11, 8:00 PM, ESPN (US), TSN (CAN)

What channel are MLS games on?

  • U.S: ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TUDN
  • Canada: TSN

MLS games are televised on the ESPN and Fox networks, along with TUDN in the US and TSN in Canada.

Games on Fox, FS1 and TUDN in the US are also available to stream via fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.

Explanation of the MLS is Back format, groups

The MLS Back Tournament is similar to a World Cup – a World Cup with 24 teams.

There are 24 teams in the tournament after the departure of FC Dallas and Nashville SC, and MLS had to change the original format. There are six groups, with Eastern Conference teams divided into Groups A, C, and E. Western Conference teams are divided into Groups B, D, and F, with the exception of the Chicago Fire, an Eastern team that has been moved to Group B to take into account the recordings. Each team plays three group stage matches.

The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout round of 16 teams.

The remaining four places are occupied by the teams that finish third with the most points.

The knockout rounds start with the round of 16 between July 25 and 28, with two matches every day. The championship game will be played on August 11. The winner automatically gains access to the CONCACAF Champions League 2021.

Here’s how the teams are broken down by group:

Eastern conference

group A.Group CGroup E
Orlando City SCToronto FCAtlanta United
Inter Miami CFNew England RevolutionFC Cincinnati
New York City FCMontreal ImpactNew York Red Bulls
Philadelphia UnionDC UnitedColumbus Crew

Western conference

Group BGroup DGroup F
Seattle SoundersTruly Salt LakeLos Angeles FC
Fire in ChicagoSporty KCLA Galaxy
Vancouver WhitecapsColorado RapidsHouston Dynamo
San Jose earthquakesMinnesota UnitedPortland Timbers

Where is the MLS is Back tournament?

  • MLS is Back site: Orlando, Fla.

The tournament will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, which contains 17 fields that can be used for football training or competition.

Disney opened the complex in 1997 and it includes a basketball court 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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