ORLANDO, Florida, (WTVN)--After the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the 2020 Major League Soccer season shortly after it started in March, the league has announced plans to resume the season, beginning with a tournament in Orlando.
The "MLS is Back" tournament will begin July 8th at Disney's Wide World of Sports, featuring all 26 teams in a FIFA World Cup style tournament, with group stages, a round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and the "MLS is Back" Tournament Final on August 11th.
A draw for that tournament will be held June 11th, with the groups split based on conference. The Eastern Conference, with the Columbus Crew, will consist of three groups, one of six teams, and two of four teams.
Each team will play a minimum of three games, and could play a maximum of seven games. Points earned in the tournament will count toward each team's season total.
MLS officials say the games will be played in a controlled environment, with the health and safety of players top of mind. Rigorous health and safety protocols will also be in place for the tournament.
Once the tournament ends, all 26 MLS teams will resume operations in their home markets.