For the first time since play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic on 12 March of this year, MLS teams will return to action in an official competition that’s set to begin on 8 July. The unique tournament, inventively dubbed ‘MLS is Back’, will be hosted at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World Resort in Florida.

While the pandemic affected European leagues in full swing, the MLS 2020 season had only just got started. So, not content with simply resuming the league and dealing with the consequent fixture shifts and potential pile up, Major League Soccer have opted to host an all-new tournament with regular season points and a spot in 2021 Concacaf Champions League on the line, and it’s set to take place at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida. Only in America.

54 matches, 26 teams, six groups, one champion. So how does the format for the tournament work? Basically, the top two teams in each pool along with the top four third-place finishers will advance to the knockout rounds. Nashville SC will move to the East for tournament purposes. All games will count toward the 2020 regular-season standings, and the tournament champion will earn a berth in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League. Got all that? Good. After the tournament, MLS plans to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup. Yep, just back to as you were before this whole crazy debacle. Only in America.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said about the tournament: "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 recognise 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. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long."

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