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MLS is Back Tournament format: Your essential guide to the event

July 8 - August 11

54 matches (39 group stage; 15 knockout round)
26 matchdays
Format: Group Stage, Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Championship
Minimum Matches: Three per club
Maximum Matches: Seven per finalist

How will the tournament work?
Similar to a FIFA World Cup, the tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 am, 8 pm and 10:30 pm EST, with the majority of the matches to be played in the evening.

Group Stage:
The 26 teams will be split into six groups.
The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one of six teams and two with four teams each.
The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.
Each team will play three group stage matches over the course of 16 consecutive days.
The top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage, beginning with the Round of 16.
If two or more clubs are tied on points in the group stage, MLS regular season tiebreaking procedures are used.
The tiebreakers for determining the four 3rd-placed clubs are: (1) points, (2) goal differential, (3) goals scored, (4) fewest disciplinary points.

Group Stage Tournament Draw:
A draw for the tournament will take place on Thursday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET to determine the placing of the 26 teams into six groups.
Nashville SC will be placed in the Eastern Conference and will remain in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the 2020 season.
As the “host” team, Orlando City SC will be the top seed in the six-team group.
The four semifinalists from the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs – Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC – will join Orlando as group seeds, along with Real Salt Lake (the next highest points total in the Western Conference from the 2019 season).
Full Group Stage Draw details
Knockout Stage:

Knockout round matches that finish tied at the end of regulation will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.

 

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SCHEDULE OF MATCHES
  • July 8: Group Stage begins
  • July 25-28: Round of 16
  • July 30-August 1: Quarterfinals
  • August 5-6: Semifinals
  • August 11: Final
BRACKET
 

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The group format will play out like this:

mlssoccer.com
Orlando City (Hosts), Toronto FC (Eastern Conference Champions) and Atlanta United (U.S. Open Cup Champions) will be the three seeded teams in the East. Seattle Sounders (MLS Cup Champions), LAFC (Supporters Shield Winners) and Real Salt Lake (Next highest Western conference points total) are the three seeded teams for the West.

All groups will contain the normal four teams except for Orlando’s Group A which will have six.

The draw procedure will take place like this, according to MLSSoccer.com:

The names of the remaining two East seeds (Atlanta & Toronto) are each placed in a ball and those two balls mixed together in a pot.

A ball is randomly selected by the host and that East team will be designated as Group C seed. The remaining ball in the pot is the Group E seed.

Similarly, the names of the three West seeds (LAFC, RSL, Seattle) are each placed in a ball and those three balls are mixed together in a pot.

A ball is randomly selected by the host and that West team is assigned as Group B seed. The next selection by the host will be the Group D seed. And the remaining ball will be designated as Group F seed.

The top two teams in each group after three matches will advance to the Round of 16, as well as the four best third-place finishers.

The remainder of the tournament will play out like the FIFA World Cup, except matches will go straight to penalties if tied after 90 minutes.

Thursday’s draw will be broadcast all over MLS’s social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their official website. Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET.
 
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