MLS Orlando Tournament Takes Shape with Four Ranked Groups


Details surrounding the proposed MLS “mini-tournament” in Orlando are finalized, with the league dividing the 26 teams into four groups and the top two teams from each group qualifying for the round of 16, ESPN confirmed.

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Athletic was the first to report the new details, sources confirming that the situation remains fluid and that many details have not been finalized. The league and the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) should also agree on the details of the tournament before it can be played.

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At one point, the plan for the league teams was to go to the Walt Disney World Wide World of Sports during the first week of June, with the teams using much of this month to get back in shape. (ESPN belongs to Walt Disney Co.) The games would then start about a month later.

But sources told ESPN that with only 10 days left until a possible travel day for players and staff, there is a feeling that it could be mid-June before all of the teams can arrive in Orlando . Once in Florida, the teams would be tested regularly and quarantined.

Sources confirmed the Athletic report that there would be three groups of six teams and a final group of eight, giving the teams a minimum of five games each. The two best teams from each group to qualify for the round of 16. Shield holders LAFC, defending champion of the MLS Cup, Seattle Sounders FC, winner of the US Open Cup last year, Atlanta United FC, and his hometown team, Orlando City SC , would have the best seeds in each group. Toronto FC would also be a team classified in the group of eight teams. Nashville SC would settle in the Eastern Conference, representing unbalanced groups. Group stage matches would count in the league table, but not knockout matches.

Regarding the league plans after the tournament, one possibility is to schedule 18 regular season games with only intra-conference clashes, with nine teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs. Similar to the mini-tournament, Nashville would be in the Eastern Conference.

But the Orlando part of the plan meets resistance from players, who hesitate to be separated from families for more than 10 weeks while also being quarantined, hotel staff being able to come and go as they please, creating a vulnerability in the MLS “bubble”. At a minimum, there are a lot of questions that will need to be answered before players agree to travel to Orlando.

“I would start by saying that I think each of us agrees that we want to start playing again,” Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told ESPN Taylor Twellman. “I want to go back, be competitive, [playing] Games. The staff want to be there, the fans want to watch the games, but I would say it all seems a bit rushed. ”

Bedoya added later: “I think the players are taking all the risks going down [to Orlando], being isolated is a strong term to say, but it’s like being in a luxury prison. ”

ESPN previously reported that the MLSPA had sent a counter offer to the league regarding player salaries for the 2020 season, with the union confirming that the amount of economic assistance would exceed $ 100 million.


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