Eddie Segura #4 of Los Angeles FC defends against Sergio Santos #17 of Philadelphia Union during the MLS match at the Banc of California Stadium on March 8, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Shaun Clark | Getty Images
Major League Soccer has announced Wednesday it will restart its season on July 8 at Walt Disney World.
The league will host its “MLS is Back Tournament” featuring all 26 clubs at the ESPN complex in Orlando without spectators. The tournament will include 16 consecutive days of group stage games that will count in the regular-season standings. Clubs will be appointed to one of six groups during a live draw that will take place on Thursday.
The winning team will move onto the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, and players are eligible for bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.
“The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women.
The MLS, which is celebrating its 25th season, said it would have “extensive medical protocols” and players and staff will be tested regularly for Covid-19. The league suspended its season on March 12 due to the pandemic.
“We’re looking forward to bringing this exciting sport back to millions of fans, while prioritizing the health and well-being of the players, coaches and support staff as well as our cast members,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products said in a statement.
MLS clubs are scheduled to arrive in Florida on June 25 and kick off the round of 16 play on July 25. The quarterfinals are scheduled to end on Aug. 1; while the semifinals will end on Aug. 6. The tournament’s final game will be on Aug. 11.