Vancouver Whitecaps forward Tosaint Ricketts, second from left, celebrates after scoring against the LA Galaxy with midfielder Russell Teiert, left, midfielder David Milinkovic, second from right, and midfielder Andy Rose during the second half of an MLS soccer match in Carson, Calif., Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

MLS Clubs Arrive to Orlando for Return

Major League Soccer (MLS) is almost back with the arrival of soccer clubs to Orlando, Florida. The league will restart their season with the MLS is Back Tournament.

The tournament kicks off on July 8 and will run until the championship on August 11.

Along with other leagues, the MLS saw its season get suspended on March 12th due to the coronavirus spread. To ensure the safety of all participants, the league decided to resume its season in Orlando and play all of their games in one location.

This single location is the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The first team to land in Florida was the San Jose Earthquakes who arrived on Wednesday afternoon. This team wanted to arrive as soon as possible so they could have as much training time as they could. They were not able to conduct a full-team training back home.

Other teams are expected to start flying into Florida in the next few days. All teams must arrive no later than seven days before the start of the tournament. They are also required to start health protocols on the same timeline.

How the Tournament will Work 

Health Protocols

Before the teams fly to Orlando, athletes and all essential personnel must undergo two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. They will also have to go through a baseline serology (antibody) testing. The latter test includes a physical test as well as a temperature check and screening questionnaire.

Los Angeles FC’s Diego Rossi (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) 

Upon arrival, athletes and essential personnel will have to undergo the same testings as before. Players, coaches and referees will then be tested for the virus every other day for two weeks after they arrive.

You can read the full detailed health protocols for the MLS is Back Tournament here. 

Tournament Structure

For this tournament, all 26 clubs will be divided into five groups of four and one group of six. Each team will play three group stage matches in 16 consecutive days.

Top three teams from Group A and the top two teams from Groups B, C, D, E, F advance. The next three highest-ranked teams in the group stage based on points total advance to Round of 16.

If a tie between teams is encountered, the league will follow regular MLS tie-breaking procedures. If there is also a tie during a knockout round, the match will proceed to a penalty kick shootout.

Games in the knockout rounds will not count toward regular-season points totals, but the tournament’s winner will earn a place in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.

You can check out the full tournament bracket here. 

About Camila Maffuz

Camila is a senior at the University of Florida, who served as a beat writer for the women's basketball team from 2019 until the 2021 season. She was also a beat writer for the Gators football team during the 2020 season. Camila is also WUFT's news director as well as a sports reporter/anchor.

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