MLS is Back Tournament, Format, Predictions
On June 10, MLS announced an impactful return to play with the MLS is Back Tournament that will take place from July 8 to August 11.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the tournament will look like.
It will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL
The tournament will follow a World Cup-style format, group stage followed by knockout rounds
There will be six groups
All 26 MLS clubs will participate
The group stage will take place over 16 consecutive days
The winner receives part of a $1.1m prize pot
For the full details about the tournament, click here
Despite the MLS’ relative lack of popularity in the US, I could not be happier about this announcement. I’ve been experiencing MLS withdrawals for a while now, and the prospect of games being played constantly for a month has me practically salivating.
One other strong point of this tournament is the fact that it does not replace the 2020 MLS season. The group stage games in the tournament count towards the regular season points tally for each team, making every single game truly count. Even if a team has no hope to advance in the tournament, there is still something to play for every game, which I love.
This tournament is very beneficial to the MLS as a whole as well. Americans love tournaments; have you ever noticed how every four summers people all of the sudden become very into soccer, and then about a year after that they start to care about women’s soccer? Big tournaments are a draw, and the MLS playoffs haven’t been enough to give America that big-fight feel every single game.
I’m not saying this will be anywhere near as popular as the World Cup, it has no chance of that, but it has the potential to put a few more eyes on the MLS.
The groups haven’t been announced yet, they will be announced after this is written, so I just have to make a pick.
I think LAFC will win this tournament.
LAFC has something to prove. After a disappointing end to last year’s season, they need to come out swinging. Not enough games were played in the MLS season before the pandemic, so I can’t base my pick off that, because whatever form they were on has been erased due to inactivity. LAFC should be ready to almost kill anyone on their way to their first trophy, and they only need a month of dominant play to bring something home. This is their tournament to lose.