After the New England Revolution returned to full team training earlier this week, the club is poised for a return to regular season play. MLS has officially announced the MLS is Back Tournament, which is set to begin on July 8th in Florida at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports and concludes on August 11th.
The behind closed-doors (no fans in attendance) tournament draws similarities to what would be seen in a World Cup style tournament, featuring a group stage followed by four knockout rounds: the Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and a Championship. The Eastern and Western Conference will have three groups each, where all groups will have four teams with an exception of one group in the east having six teams.
A group stage tournament draw will take place tomorrow, Thursday, June 11th, at 3:30 p.m. ET to determine the makeup of these groups and can be streamed on MLS or it’s social channels. The Revolution will be one of 20 unseeded teams and can be drawn into a group with Orlando City, Atlanta United, or Toronto FC; who are the seeded teams for being the host city and 2019 MLS Cup semi finalists, respectively.
This tournament’s group stage was also designed to kick-start the return of the regular season. Every team will play three games within their group, and these results will carry over to the 2020 regular season standings. For tournament purposes, the top-two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, as well as four of the best third-place teams advancing.
Although the knockout rounds will not matter for the 2020 regular season, over $1 million and a berth to the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League is at stake for the eventual winner. This also means the winner of the 2020 MLS Supporters Shield will not be given an automatic berth to the Champions League.
MLS is Back Tournament is also set to feature new rules that have been adopted throughout professional soccer leagues that have already returned. Teams are allowed to make up to five substitutions per match, and have 23-player squads.
Strict protocols around testing and preventive measures will be implemented as the threat of COVID-19 still looms to the general public. Prior to arrival to Florida — which teams are allowed to arrive on June 24th — and throughout the duration of the tournament, players and essential staff will regularly undergo tests to detect active infections and the presence of antibodies.
Although teams aren’t able to hold any preseason games, the Revolution have already been training individually for a few weeks and may have a head start over some of their competition, having already returned to full training. This should also act as a good restart to the season for the Revolution after a disappointing loss and draw to begin the season, as they welcome back captain, Carles Gil, who missed the first two games, and will look for positive results to build momentum for the 2020 season.
How excited are you for the return of the MLS? Tell us below in the comment sections and any thoughts you have on the MLS is Back Tournament! Go Revs!