Jul 8, 2020 - Sports

Major League Soccer kicks off its coronavirus comeback

A chart
Graphic: Axios Visuals

The Major League Soccer is Back Tournament kicks off Wednesday at Walt Disney World with a hometown clash between Orlando City, which played its home games there in 2014, and first-year franchise Inter Miami.

Worth noting: Though all 26 teams were slated to participate, FC Dallas has withdrawn due to nearly a third of the team testing positive for coronavirus.

  • Nashville's opening match, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has also been postponed after five players tested positive.

How it works: The tournament is broken into a group stage (July 8–23) and a knockout stage (July 25–Aug. 11).

  • Group stage: The top three teams from Group A, the top two from Groups B–F and the next three teams with the best record advance to the Round of 16. All group stage games (three per team) count towards regular season records.
  • Knockout stage: Beginning with the Round of 16, the remainder of the tournament will be played for two things — a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League and a share of the $1.1 million prize pool. These games do not count towards the regular season.
  • Remainder of season: After the tournament, MLS hopes to conclude its regular season in teams' home markets. No schedule has been set yet.

What to watch: Thanks to the format, fans will be treated to four great intra-"state" rivalry matches in the group stage.

  • Orlando vs. Miami: The tournament opener is the first Florida Derby in 19 years.
  • LAFC vs. LA Galaxy: El Tráfico is just two years and six meetings old, with LAFC finally getting its first win in last year's playoffs.
  • Toronto vs. Montreal: The 401 Derby pits Eastern Canada's dual powers against each other.
  • Cincinnati vs. Columbus: The "Hell is Real Derby" debuted last season, with each side picking up a win and tying the third game.
Go deeper