Major League Soccer has announced that it will restart the season on July 8, after being shut down for almost three months by the Covid-19 outbreak, with a behind-closed-doors tournament at Walt Disney World, Florida.
The tournament will include all 26 teams, beginning with groups of 4 teams, with the top two and the four best third placed teams qualifying for knockout stages. The knockout stages will be a carbon copy of the World Cup-style including a round of 16, quarterfinals, semi-finals and the final. The competition will run until August 11 and is being billed as the ‘MLS is Back Tournament’.
Group stage matches will count in the MLS regular season standings and the tournament winner will earn a sport in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League. Following the tournaments completion, the MLS said it plans to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup.
The venue will be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex within the Walt Disney World Resort where fans will not be allowed to attend throughout. This is also where the Teams will stay at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex within the Walt Disney Resort for the duration of the month-long tournament as testing will be applied to all teams including players and all staff for a 14-day period, including temperature screenings and PPE provided to prevent the spreading if a player has the virus.
Tests will also take place before every game, in the case of a positive result, the player or staff member will be released from the tournament in order to prevent spreading. Teams must arrive seven days before their first match in order for the rigorous testing to be thorough and it's most effective.
The National Basketball (NBA) has also approved to restart its 2019/20 season at Walt Disney World with a ‘tentative’ start date of July 31.
Author: Bradleigh Amis