After weeks of intense discussions and much deliberation on every finite detail, Major League fans around the country can finally begin looking forward to seeing soccer’s return thanks to the MLS Is Back Tournament. Following in the wake of soccer returning in Spain, Germany and England, the league have organised this World Cup-styled tournament as a way of keeping the action going, sorting out qualification for the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League and, most importantly, ensuring things are kept as safe as possible.
With players returning to training across the league over the past two weeks or so, we thought this would be the best time to guide you through the ins and outs of the tournament and offer you a little insight into who might be the top sides in our MLS betting picks.
The first official time any MLS player or team has competed since March 12th, the MLS Is Back Tournament is a unique, one-off tournament featuring all 26 sides from the 2020 season.
Taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida, the tournament has been styled after the FIFA World Cup with a group stage and then a knockout round, with the winner earning automatic qualification to the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
The 26 teams have been split into five groups of four and one group of six.
However, as things stand, this tournament is not a replacement for the MLS Regular Season but simply a way of bringing back the action in a safe environment until the league can resume again with a planned return in August.
Teams are allowed to begin travelling to Florida for the tournament as early as June 24th, but no later than seven days prior to their first scheduled match.
The group stage kicks off on July 8th with Orlando City taking on expansion side Inter Miami in a local Eastern Conference derby. The group stage will run on until the 23rd with three matchdays for each side in the competition.
The last 16 fixtures will take place between the July 25th-28th, the quarter-finals across July 30th-August 1, the semi-finals will follow on across August 5th-6th and the final, which holds a $1.1 million prize purse for the winner will be held on August 11th.
After what was a record-shattering season for Bob Bradley’s LAFC in 2019, it’s unsurprising to see them as the pre-tournament favourites in our MLS betting markets. They were put in a group with El Trafico rivals LA Galaxy (+1200), Houston Dynamo (+5000) and the Portland Timbers (+2500), widening their initial odds of +400 to +450 at the time of writing.
That is still some ways ahead of their nearest rivals Atlanta United (+750), 2019 MLS Cup Winners Seattle Sounders (+750), NYCFC (+900) and 2019 MLS Cup Runners Up Toronto FC (+1000) however.
For those of you out there that love an underdog story, the biggest outsiders for the tournament are FC Cincinnati (+6000), Vancouver Whitecaps (+6600) and expansion side Nashville SC (+7500).
As ever, we’ll be on hand throughout to keep you in the loop with all the latest updates in odds and possible MLS Parlay picks from the tournament.
Whilst this is still a tournament forced to be played in eerily empty stadiums hundreds of miles away for most clubs, it’s been a long time since any of us MLS soccer fans have had anything to cheer about so we’ll happily take what we can get. The MLS Is Back Cup promises to be an exciting and unpredictable tournament which we cannot wait to begin covering as it all unfolds!
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