MLS is Back Tournament confirmed for July and August

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MLS will return from a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic with a new competition starting on July 8.

The MLS is Back Tournament will see the 2020 season – which has been suspended since March 12 – resume for all 26 teams and be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World Resort in Orlando, with 54 fixtures taking place over 26 matchdays.

Teams will be drawn into six groups – the Eastern Conference will have three pools, one with six teams and two with four, while the Western Conference will have three sections consisting of four clubs.

Sixteen teams will progress to the knockout stage, which will begin on July 25 ahead of an August 11 final.

Results in the group stage will count towards the regular season, which is planned to resume after the tournament finishes, while the winner of the competition will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.

It has also been confirmed each side will be able to use up to five substitutions per match during the MLS is Back Tournament, with teams able to name a matchday squad of 23 players.

In order to ensure the health and safety of players, coaching staff and club delegates, MLS confirmed all essential members of each travelling party will be tested for COVID-19 prior to flying to Orlando.

They will then be tested once more upon arrival, with additional testing then taking place every other day during the following two weeks.

Substitutes, coaches and officials on the bench or in the technical area will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing measures where possible, while players involved in the match must not exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.