Confirmed: Walt Disney World will Host MLS Tournament Before NBA Season

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Walt Disney World MLS

Credit: Disney/MLS

Just after announcing it will play host to the National Basketball League as it finishes its 2019-20 season, Walt Disney World has just announced that its ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will now also host Major League Soccer as well.

All 26 MLS teams will take part in a tournament which will begin before the NBA is set to restart their season. All soccer players will be staying at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel.

According to Disney,

Major League Soccer will resume its 25th season at Walt Disney World Resort, hosting the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from July 8 to August 11. The unique tournament will include all 26 MLS clubs competing in a continuous schedule of 54 total matches that will take place nearly every day. The matches will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings, and the tournament winner will also earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.

The event, which will be held without spectators in attendance, will be staged with an emphasis on the health and safety of all players, coaches, staff, crew, and cast members. MLS players and staff will follow specific medical protocols, including regular testing, throughout the tournament.

ESPN Wide World of Sports is excited to continue its longstanding relationship with MLS by hosting the MLS is Back Tournament. Previously, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex hosted the 1998 MLS preseason, as well as events for the 1998 and 2019 MLS All-Star Games.

As far as where the players will be housed, it has been confirmed that they will be staying at the Swan and Dolphin, according to MLS officials.

MLS Team Logos
Credit: Piczard / Code Carvings

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The MLS explained further how the tournament will be structured.

On its website, the league explained:

Similar to a FIFA World Cup, the tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 am, 8 pm and 10:30 pm EST, with the majority of the matches to be played in the evening.

Group Stage:

  • The 26 teams will be split into six groups.
  • The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one of six teams and two with four teams each.
  • The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.
  • Each team will play three group stage matches over the course of 16 consecutive days.
  • The top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage, beginning with the Round of 16.
  • If two or more clubs are tied on points in the group stageMLS regular season tiebreaking procedures are used.
  • The tiebreakers for determining the four 3rd-placed clubs are: (1) points, (2) goal differential, (3) goals scored, (4) fewest disciplinary points.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Credit: Disney

The league also mentioned that there is a lot at stake in this tournament than simply regular-season points and a further tournament spot. $1.1 million prize money!

The MLS will also be taking serious precautions to protect the health and safety of its players while on Walt Disney World Property:

An MLS task force has worked with leading experts to create guidelines and best practices to help reduce risk… These include:

  • Wearing face coverings / face masks;
  • Social distancing;
  • General hygiene (Ex. avoid touching face, washing hands frequently, avoid sharing food, bottles, towels or equipment);
  • Cleaning and sanitization (disinfecting surfaces).

The Walt Disney World Resort and the Swan and Dolphin Hotel will be providing enhanced cleaning of all venues and enforcing appropriate capacity-management and other social distancing guidelines.

swan resort disney world
Credit: Swan and Dolphin

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Are you an MLS fan? What do you think about another league moving its games to Disney World? Let us know in the comments!

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