The MLS is Back Tournament is expected to be a creative restart for the American soccer league. Disney’s Wide World of Sports plays host to a 25-team World Cup style tournament as the MLS resumes after a nearly four-month long hiatus.
MLS players are staying at Disney in a makeshift bubble but there has already been one team forced to withdraw. F.C. Dallas announced it would be leaving Orlando after mounting COVID-19 cases for players and coaches. According to MLS, there have been a total of 13 positive tests out of the 557 players participating in the tournament indicating the spread of the coronavirus has been mostly limited to Dallas so far.
“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber noted in a statement. “The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.”
The MLS Is Back Tournament Is Using a World Cup Style Points System
Fans of the World Cup will notice a similar structure to the MLS is Back Tournament. Teams have been split up into five groups of four teams and one group of six. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Knockout Stage with the exception of Group A. Since the group has six teams, the top three squads will automatically advance.
The remaining spots will go to the three highest-ranked teams based on total points. Each team is awarded three points for a win, one point for a tie and no points for a loss. According to MLS, goal differential will be the first tiebreaker if teams are tied with same number of total points.
The next three highest-ranked teams in the group stage based on total points advance to Round of 16. The following procedure (in order of priority) will be used to determine which teams advance: 1. Total number of points, 2. Goal differential, 3. Goals for, 4. Fewest Disciplinary Points.
The Group Stage Matches Will Count Towards the MLS Regular Season Standings
Each team is scheduled to play three group stage matches which will count towards the regular season standings. The remaining part of the MLS is Back Tournament will only be part of the event and will not count towards the standings. With most pro sports leagues still on hiatus, the MLS is hoping the tournament can drum up increased interest in the league.
Here is a look at the MLS is Back Tournament groups and standings.
Group A Standings
Group B Standings
Group C Standings
Group D Standings
Group E Standings
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Group F Standings