The MLS is Back Tournament finally kicked things off Wednesday evening as
26 teams 25 teams 24 teams compete for the tournament title and a chance to earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Without any spectators, the competition runs July 8 - August 11 at ESPN’s World Wide of Sports Complex just outside Orlando, Florida.
Updated groups below. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/fBGPecEWhO— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 9, 2020
Remember, the first three group stage games count towards the club’s regular season records. Here’s what’s happened so far:
MLS Players take a stand before the competition
Racial injustice and police brutality have been at the forefront of conversations leading up to the tournament, and on Wednesday, before kickoff, Black players and staff from around the league came together in solidarity to take a stand.
You can watch the full video to this powerful intro below. Well done, MLS.
Standing in solidarity with @BPCMLS. ✊ ✊ ✊ #BlackLivesMatter | #MLSisBlack pic.twitter.com/MCooMu9aER— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 9, 2020
Nani’s late winner earns Orlando the three points over Inter Miami
The battle of Florida kicked things off in Group A as Orlando looked really good after the four-month layoff, while expansion team Inter Miami proved there’s still work that needs to be done.
Former Toronto FC forward Juan Agudelo scored the first goal of the tournament.
Orlando City SC (1-0-0) | Inter Miami CF (0-1-0) | All highlights courtesy MLSsoccer.com
New York City FC still goal-less in 2020 after 1-0 loss to Philiadelphia
Two of the top-three teams from the Eastern Conference went head-to-head early Thursday morning and it was the Union who would come out on top. NYCFC doesn’t look the same under their new head coach.
New York City (0-1-0) | Philadelphia Union (1-0-0)
How Group A looks after one game down. pic.twitter.com/0reAFtQDfb— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 9, 2020
Nashville SC withdrawn from the tournament
MLS announced Tuesday afternoon after the morning match that Nashville SC would be the second team withdrawn from the tournament due to an excessive amount of COVID-19 cases, joining FC Dallas who was withdrawn on July 6. The Athletic first reported that the team had nine players test positive for the virus.
As a result, MLS has reconfigured the groups into six even groups of four, moving the Chicago Fire out of Group A and into Group B, joining the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, and San Jose Earthquakes.
Toronto FC’s future foes Montreal and New England kick off Group C
We were rooting for pretty much anything but a win for the Montreal Impact, and that’s exactly what happened as the New England Revolution’s Gustavo Bou hit a screamer with his left foot in the 56th minute to give the Revs the win.
Montreal Impact (0-1-0) | New England Revolution (1-0-0)
Toronto play D.C. United Sunday morning (9 am ET) with the Impact on Wednesday, and a win could potentially eliminate Montreal from the tournament.
Remember, the top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage, which begins July 25.
Thierry Henry takes knee for 8:46
Soccer icon and now-manager of the Montreal Impact Thierry Henry knows the spotlight is on him and the former New York Red Bulls star decided to use his platform to pay tribute to George Floyd, kneeling at the start of the match for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
This isn’t the first time that we’ve the seen the an athlete, coach, or the league for that matter, use the tournament as an opportunity to raise awareness towards social injustice, and I’m guessing that it won’t be the last.
Seattle and San Jose (9 PM ET) is the only game on the agenda tomorrow.
Defending MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders start tournament with a draw against San Jose
Group B finally got underway on Friday, and I’ll be honest, I missed this match tonight. Luckily, I picked a good match to miss as the game finished in a 0-0 draw. Based on the highlights and reactions around Twitter, it seems like I didn’t miss too much.
The defending MLS Cup champions drop points. Maybe it won’t be a Seattle-Toronto final.
Side note, are TFC going to start doing these car things? Sign me up.
The scene in San Jose. #VamosSJ— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 11, 2020
: @SJEarthquakes pic.twitter.com/oEgc5bJQWe
We’re back tomorrow night with a doubleheader: Atlanta United vs New York Red Bulls at 8 p.m. EST followed by the FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew at 10:30 pm. If you manage to get through the entirety of that one, you’re a real one.