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MLS is Back Tournament Preview and 2020 Schedule

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MLS is Back Tournament Preview and 2020 Schedule
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez #14 of Los Angeles Galaxy. Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP

Professional soccer in the US restarted in June with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the MLS is Back Tournament will kick off on July 8th and end on August 11th.

Where Will the Games Take Place?

The 54 games of this competition will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World. This will be a 29-matchday special event made to serve as the lead up to the return of the 2020 MLS season. Major League Soccer was temporarily postponed on March 12th due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure the safety of everyone involved, the MLS decided to play all of their games in one location. The 26 teams have been able to prepare since June 4th when the moratorium on training was lifted. Their plans to resume workouts had to include strict COVID-19 testing policies, all approved by medical staff and infectious disease experts.

The teams are starting to arrive on campus and a guaranteed spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League spot will be on the line.

MLS is Back Tournament Format

The MLS is Back Tournament divides all 26 teams into five groups of four and one group of six. The teams will play three group stage games.

The top three teams from Group A and the top two teams from Groups B, C, D, E, F will advance to the Round of 16. The next three teams with a better position in the standings will move on as well.

Regular MLS tie-breaking procedures will be implemented. If there’s a tie during a knockout round games, the winner will be determined in a penalty kick shootout.

The games in the knockout rounds will not count toward MLS regular season points totals, but as explained before, the winner of the tournament will earn a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.

MLS is Back Tournament 2020 Schedule

Group play: June 8-23

Round of 16: July 25-28

Quarterfinals: July 30-Aug. 1

Semifinals: Aug. 5-6

Final: Aug. 11

A detailed view of an MLS soccer ball at Audi Field on March 7, 2020. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

Betting Odds

The best sportsbooks recently released MLS odds for this tournament. You can find betting odds for which team will win this event and for who will win each of the six groups.

BetOnline favors Los Angeles FC to win the MLS is Back Tournament at +500. The Seattle Sounders, the defending MLS Cup champions, have the second-best odds at +800.

Having to play every game in a neutral field hurts their chances to win it all because their raucous crowd in Seattle gave them a huge advantage in their home games. 5Dimes has the Seattle Sounders at +220 to win Group B.

MLS Is Back Tournament Group Odds at 5Dimes

Group A Winner

  • New York City +335
  • Philadelphia Union +350
  • Inter Miami +400
  • Orlando City +400
  • Chicago Fire +450
  • Nashville +800

Group B Winner

  • FC Dallas +220
  • Seattle Sounders +220
  • San Jose Earthquakes +220
  • Vancouver Whitecaps +500

Group C Winner

  • Toronto FC +160
  • New England Revolution +275
  • Montreal Impact +330
  • DC United +330

Group D Winner

  • Minnesota United +225
  • Sporting Kansas City +225
  • Colorado Rapids +300
  • Real Salt Lake +300

Group E Winner

  • New York Red Bulls +200
  • Atlanta United +200
  • Columbus Crew +240
  • FC Cincinnati +600

Group F Winner

  • Los Angeles FC -110
  • Portland Timbers +350
  • Los Angeles Galaxy +350
  • Houston Dynamo +600

Predictions

Two teams caught my eye for this competition: the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles FC. Depth is vital in a tournament like this and both teams have it all over the field.

Lucas Zelarayán and Gyasi Zardes can be difference-makers for Columbus Crew and help them make a deep run. This team has what it takes to put up a fight in Group E against New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United.

Josef Martinez had surgery to reconstruct his torn right ACL in March and not having him in this tournament is a big blow for Atlanta United. They still have a formidable team but Martinez’s absence can help the Columbus Crew.

Los Angeles FC won the 2019 Supporters’ Shield with a record-setting 72 points, they’re well-coached by Bob Bradley and they’re incredibly talented in the final third, led by Carlos Vela.

The reigning MLS MVP had a league-record 34 goals and 15 assists last season and this year he had two goals in the first two games. Los Angeles FC almost won the 2019 MLS Cup and they come to Orlando with a lot to prove.

Author’s note: Carlos Vela decided to not participate in this tournament due to his wife’s ‘risky pregnancy.’

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