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MLS is Back schedule: Union to play NYCFC first, followed by Nashville and Inter Miami

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Change to Group A will see top three teams advance to the knockouts

The Philadelphia Union will return to the field against rivals NYCFC on July 9 at 9 a.m. and will play Nashville SC at 8 p.m. on July 14 followed by Inter Miami at 10:30 p.m. July 19, according to the schedule released by Major League Soccer on Wednesday.

As part of the official release of the group stage schedule, the league also announced that the third place team in the Union’s six-team Group A will automatically qualify for the knockouts and that the fourth place team still has a path if they are among the top three of the teams that haven’t already advanced. Previously, the rules stipulated that the top four third place finishers would advance.

“I think they got that one right in terms of just the fairness of the competition,” head coach Jim Curtin said in a Zoom call with media on Wednesday. “I think that it’s unique that one team has a group with six teams in it and to add a third team from that group to advance to the Round of 16 was necessary.”

The boys in blue will have just four days between their first two games and five games between the second and third match. They will get at least six days rest between the final group game and the start of knockout play on July 25. They’ll play July 25 if they finish first or second place in the group, July 26 if they finish third and July 27 if they advance as a wild card.

Schedule

Thursday, July 9
New York City FC vs. Philadelphia, 9 a.m. (ESPN/ESPN Deportes, TSN)

Tuesday, July 14
Philadelphia vs. Nashville, 8 p.m. (TUDN, TSN)

Sunday, July 19
Miami vs. Philadelphia, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN, TSN)

July 25: A1 vs. Wildcard B/C/D/E
July 25: A2 vs. C2
July 26: B1 vs. A3
July 27: C1 vs. Wildcard A/B/D/F