SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — The San Jose Earthquakes will join all 25 Major League Soccer clubs in Orlando to restart the 2020 season to compete in the MLS is Back Tournament.
The tournament will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida beginning Jul. 8.
Each team will play a minimum of three group stage matches throughout 16 consecutive days of group stage matches all of which will count in the MLS regular season standings — 16 to 26 advancing to the knockout round.
The tournaments winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the tournament will be played without fans in attendance to resume its 25th season.
“We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.
“The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play. We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women.
The MLS has had a longstanding relationship with ESPSN Wide World of Sports Complex dating back to hosting the 1998 preseason at the complex. The league also hosted events for the 1998 and 2019 MLS All-Star games at the facilities.
“Sports have the power to unify and inspire, particularly during challenging times,” Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products said.
“And we’re looking forward to bringing this exciting sport back to millions of fans, while prioritizing the health and well-being of the players, coaches and support staff as well as our cast members.”
Clubs will arrive in Orlando as early as Jun 24 for preseason training and clubs that are able to conduct full team training in their markets must follow the league’s medical and testing protocols arriving no later than seven days before their first match.
The tournament will feature continuous schedule of matches everyday with games beginning at 6 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. pacific time — with a majority of the matches to be played in the evening.
After group stage matches, the top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage.
The knockout stage will take place on Aug. 11 and will feature a round-of-16, quarterfinals, semifinals and championship matches.
Matches ending in a tie at the end of regulation in the knock-out phase will result in a penalty kick shootout.
The tournaments winner will earn a sport in the 2021 Soctiabank Concacaf Champions League regardless whether it is a U.S. or Canadian club — the winner will replace the berth previously awarded to the MLS regular season points leader in the conference opposite of the 2020 Supporter’s Shield winner.
After the tournament is completed the MLS plans to continue its regular season with a revised scheduale in home markets followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup.
To learn more click here.