With Inter Miami CF set to kick off the MLS is Back Tournament against Orlando City on Wednesday, July 8, it’s time to break down everything you need to know.
Inter Miami has been placed in Group A with Orlando City SC, New York City FC, Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, and Nashville FC.
Miami’s opening match versus host Orlando City will be on ESPN on July 8th at 8 p.m. Their second will also be on ESPN at 9 a.m. against the Chicago Fire, with their final match against the Philadelphia Union being televised on Fox Sports 1 on July 19 at 10:30 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time.
The only six-team group, Group A, will advance their top three teams into the knockout stage of the tournament. In the other groups, the top two teams get automatic berths while the top three third-place teams in the remaining group advance to the knockout stages.
Points in the group stage will count towards the regular season and the winner of the tournament will get a CONCACAF Champions League spot.
According to SI.com the opening gambling favorites to win the tournament are LAFC with 5/1 odds. Atlanta United — 8/1 odds — are the second most likely to win in the opinion of the bookkeepers. Sporting Kansas City, the Seattle Sounders, and Toronto FC all had 12/1 odds when the tournament betting began.
Inter Miami started with a 40/1 chance of winning the tournament but have since had their odds changed to 30/1 odds to win. SI.com considers the squad as a sleeper to win the whole thing.
Nashville FC and Cincinnati FC are the two teams least likely teams to win the tournament, holding 100/1 odds to lift the trophy.
The League’s protocols include regular screening, testing, social distancing, PPE, and a mandatory quarantine for all individuals upon arrival at the hotel until they have a negative test. As of July 4th, there have been a total of 14 positive tests that have been reported in the MLS tournament delegation since June 28, 12 of which were players.
Those protocols led to FC Dallas withdrawing from the tournament after 14 positive test cases from their traveling camp, including 10 players.
Now Group B will only have three teams, most groups have four while Group A has six. It will be interesting to see if these development causes MLS to add one team into Group B from Group A to even out the number of teams in each group.
The league originally postponed the opening Group B game between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps, originally scheduled for July 9, to a later date.
Since arriving at the host hotel on June 27, FC Dallas currently have all players and staff on quarantine, according to MLSSoccer.Com
Vancouver’s trip to Orlando was delayed after dealing with two inconclusive COVID-19 tests. However, the tests later came back negative and the team will now travel to Orlando on Monday.
Inter Miami’s Robbie Robinson will be out of the MLS is Back Tournament due to personal reasons.
Carlos Vela, the MLS MVP last season, will also not participate in the tournament as his wife’s pregnancy is considered risky and the MLS bubble does not allow family and friends inside.
Nonetheless, the coming days ahead July 8’s tournament opener between Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC will lay the foundations for how thing will work for the tournament moving forward.