How MLS plans to return this summer

It has now been nearly a week since Major League Soccer came to terms with the players’ union on a modified Collective Bargaining Agreement that cleared the way for returning to play in 2020. The games would be the first since the league put a halt on its 25th season on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic with the 26 teams having played just two games apiece.

Despite that agreement, the league has yet to officially unveil its exact plan nor what the season might look like after. There have, however, been many reports surrounding those plans. While there are still a lot of unknowns, there’s at least enough out there that we have a good idea of what this season might look like. (Update: MLS made it official on June 10.)

What is the plan?

Keeping in mind that this has not been formally announced and is therefore subject to change, there’s been solid reporting suggesting that the basic framework has been set. The basics are these:

  • Teams would each play three games in what could broadly be called a “World Cup-style” group stage at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Fla. These three games would all count toward the regular-season standings.
  • At the end of the group-stage, teams would move on to a 16-team knockout tournament where they’d play as many as four more games. These games would NOT count toward the regular-season.
  • In addition to some sort of cash prize and the glory of being crowned champion of a trumped-up preseason tournament, the winner will also get a spot in Concacaf Champions League.
  • The longest any team is expected to be in Orlando is six weeks, with teams eliminated earlier in the tournament going home once they’re done.

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