The Philadelphia Union will be joining the other 25 teams in Major League Soccer for a World Cup-style tournament in Orlando next month, the league officially announced Wednesday.
Three group games from the tournament will count toward the regular season standings and the tournament winner — whether from the U.S. or Canada — will earn a berth into the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. A total of 54 matches will be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
“The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a news release.
Matches will be played almost daily at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. eastern time. The schedule and broadcast plans will be announced at a later date. A live draw will be held on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. eastern.
There will be five four-team groups and one with six teams. The top two finishers in each group and the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stages. Host Orlando SC is the top seed in the six-team Group A. Atlanta United, LAFC, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake are the top seeds in the other five groups. The other 20 teams will be seeded into the groups based on their conference.
This means the Union will only potentially face one of the three seeded Eastern Conference teams out of Orlando SC, Atlanta United and Toronto FC. It’s possible they won’t play any of those four teams if they are seeded into the six-team Group A and don’t match up against Orlando.
The league plans to resume the regular season with a modified schedule in home markets after the completion of the tournament.
- June 11: Live Draw
June 24: Teams begin reporting to Orlando (they are required to report within 7 days of first match)
July 8: Group Stage begins
- July 25-28: Round of 16
- July 30-August 1: Quarterfinals
- August 5-6: Semifinals
- August 11: Final