It’s official: MLS will return from the coronavirus shutdown with a centralized tournament in Orlando, Florida. The news, reported for several weeks, was officially confirmed by the league Wednesday.
The plan will be for all 26 teams to head to Orlando, where they will be housed at Disney World and use their sporting facilities at Disney Wide World of Sports. All teams will play three games in group play, with those games counting towards regular-season standings. Top finishers in group play will enter a 16-team knockout phase, with the winner of the tournament picking up a slot in the Concacaf Champions League, although details on the resumption of that regional competition are to be determined.
Los Angeles Football Club will emerge from their unexpected three-month hiatus in game action in unprecedented circumstances, with MLS never before holding a full bubble tournament like this before. The club was two games into the MLS regular season, posting a 1-0 win over Inter Miami on opening day before settling for a wild 3-3 draw in week two against the Philadelphia Union, both games at home. LAFC are technically still alive in the 2020 CCL, but again, no word has come regarding what’s happening with that competition.
LAFC, like other teams, will continue to train in their home markets until the end of this month, when they’ll travel to Orlando by June 24 for an abbreviated acclimation/training camp run before games begin. The tournament will kick off on July 8, with it being a World Cup format of games every day, teams rotating through game days, until all teams have played three group-stage games. The Round of 16 will be July 25-28, quarterfinals July 30-Aug. 1, then the semifinals on Aug. 5-6 and the tournament final on Aug. 11.
LAFC will be a top seed for one of the six groups, with the draw for the competition coming Thursday at 12:30 pm PT.
The timing is a bit strange, with current events overshadowing the lack of sports of late, but the path is lit for LAFC to return to the field, and we’ll be here to cover it every step of the way. Let the preparations begin.
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