Orlando, Miami to meet in opener of MLS return tournament
Orlando City will play expansion Inter Miami in the opening match of the Major League Soccer tournament starting next month in Florida.
The July 8 matchup is a nod to the tournament’s host state. Games will be played without fans in attendance at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.
The draw for the group stage field for the World Cup-style tournament was held Thursday, a day after the MLS is Back event was announced. MLS will be the second pro team league in the United States to return to the field. The National Women’s Soccer League will play a tournament in Utah starting on June 27.
LAFC and the rival LA Galaxy were selected in the same group in the Western Conference, while Canadian rivals Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact also wound up in the same group in the East.
Apart from the opening match, the schedule for the other games has not been announced.
The league’s 26 teams will be divided into six groups for the opening round of the tournament. Group matches will count toward the regular season standings.
Sixteen teams will advance to the knockout round, with the winner earning a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.
Teams had played just two games to start the season when the league suspended play March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The groups for the tournament:
Group A (Eastern Conference): Orlando City, Inter Miami, New York City, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Nashville SC.
Group B (Western Conference): Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes
Group C (Eastern Conference): Toronto FC, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, D.C. United.
Group D (Western Conference): Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United.
Group E (Eastern Conference): Atlanta United, FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew.
Group F (Western Conference): LAFC, LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports