On Wednesday morning, MLS and the Rapids announced plans for a league-wide World Cup style tournament to begin in Orlando on July 8. There are a lot of questions surrounding what this tournament means and what it will look like, so we're here to help. Here are five frequently asked questions and answers about the MLS is Back Tournament.
How many games with the Rapids play? Will they be like preseason matches?
There will be six groups, five of which will have four teams and one that will have six. Being in the Western Conference, the Rapids are poised to be in either Group B, Group D or Group F - which are all groups set to have four teams total. Regardless of group size, each team will play three matches, and all of those group stage matches will count toward the regular season standings. The groups will be announced on via live stream on Thursday at 1:30 PM MT on the MLS website and social channels.
Following the three group matches, the top two teams from each group and four additional top-ranked third place teams will then move on to a knockout style tournament. The results for the knockout style tournament will not count toward the regular season, but the winner of the tournament will receive a Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League spot for 2021 and a $1.1 million prize. Click here to view the bracket and layout.
What does the match and broadcast schedule look like?
The schedule will be similar to the FIFA World Cup. Matches will take place at 7 AM, 6 PM and 8:30 PM MT, in order to avoid the Orlando heat. The idea is that matches will take place nearly every day for 16 days during the group stage, and there will be no overlap in time slots across games. The broadcasts are poised to feature new technologies, camera angles and fan integration opportunities. The specifics of the schedule and national television partner networks broadcast information will be announced following tomorrow’s group reveal. Click here for more broadcast and streaming information.
What does this mean for the rest of the season?
The goal of MLS continues to be to play the remainder of the regular season in-market. Once a team is eliminated from the tournament, they will have the opportunity to return to their market to continue to train. The announcement of this tournament does not intend to have far-reaching implications of the remainder of the regular season, but it is rather a good opportunity for the players to return to action, while staying as safe as possible during the current climate. Click here to read Don Garber's comments on the current status of the remaining 2020 schedule.
How long is the team going to be in Florida?
The Rapids are poised to travel to Orlando between June 24 and July 5. The tournament will begin July 8 and the knockout round begins July 25. The tournament ends August 11.
Is this tournament safe? Can fans attend?
There are many new safety protocols that will be in place in order to make it as safe as possible for the players and select staff traveling with the team. We encourage you to read about the MLS heath and safety protocols to learn more. Unfortunately, in order to abide by these safety restrictions, all matches will be closed to fans.
For more information, check out the MLS is Back Tournament hub.