MLS announced the MLS is Back Tournament, a World Cup styled tournament that will once again kick off the 2020 season, which was unfortunately canceled due to a global pandemic.
Although the format is mostly understandable, there are countless factors that are changed due to the accommodations the league has had to make.
Here are a couple of things you should know about this tournament.
A Slew of Matches
The League has done a good job, making sure that each team isn’t forced to play too many matches in a confined amount of time. However, due to the fact that the 39 group matches are concentrated in the span of about 20 days, fans will have the opportunity to watch soccer every day for about a month.
Each team will play 3 games in under 16 days and will have the opportunity to play 7 games if they continue into the knockout round. This means that in the best-case scenario, fans of the club will be able to see the boys play 7 matches in just over a month, which is a ton, considering the shortage of soccer fans have had to endure for some time.
Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
We’ve already mentioned the number of matches, but there have been other rules of the beautiful game that have changed since we last saw some footy.
The main one is the number of substitutions. teams are now allowed 5 substitutions per match, which is an increase from the three substitutions rule that existed prior to the pandemic. This temporary change was agreed to by the IFAB and was done based on the idea that the congestion of matches would affect the welfare of the players.
The new 5-sub rule, coupled with the number of matches, creates a recipe that might include a Dante Sealy or a Nkosi Burgess debut.
For the uninformed, this tournament might seem like a meaningless contest meant to draw fans back into the MLS Fandom. However, the league has ensured that the tournament will have a lasting effect for the next couple of years.
The first stake is short term. No one knows if there will be an actual 2020 regular season in the near future. However, in case that is the case, MLS has made it so that the group stage will directly affect the regular season. The group stage matches will count towards the official regular-season standings.
The other stake is the CONCACAF Champions League. Earlier this year, the CONCACAF Champions League was canceled for obvious reasons, but MLS and CONCACAF are already looking forward to 2021. MLS has changed the format this year, making it so that the winner of the MLS is Back Tournament will get automatic qualification into the Champions League.
Both of these stakes put more weight onto the significance of this tournament than was originally anticipated. MLS has made it so that this tournament will have lasting effects, and gives fans more reasons to cheer for their team and more reasons to be invested in their team.
Who do you want to see grouped with FC Dallas?
Featured Image: Dallas Morning News