After months of uncertainty surround Major League Soccer, we’ve finally got actual games to look forward to after the league announced their MLS is Back tournament on Wednesday. If you missed out on the nitty-gritty details of the tournament, we covered that here. We also chatted with the Sounders about how they’re looking forward to the tournament. That can be found here.
A quick primer: the 26 MLS teams will be drawn into one of six groups during a live draw that will take place at 12:30 p.m. today. For the remainder of the 2020 MLS season, Nashville SC will be moved to the Eastern Conference. The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one consisting of six teams and two consisting of four teams each. The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.
The Sounders will be one of three seeded teams in the Western Conference. Think sorta like the UEFA Champions League, where domestic champions are placed at the top of each group. The other two teams in the west that will be seeded are LAFC (Supporters’ Shield Winners) and Real Salt Lake (3rd most points in the West).
The three seeded teams from the Eastern Conference are Orlando City SC (essentially hosts of the tournament), Atlanta United FC (most regular season points), and Toronto FC (MLS Cup finalists). Orlando City will seed the group with six teams.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages, as well as the four best third-place finishers. Tired of all the math? Me too. Let’s just see who the Sounders draw and start arguing about the Group of Death already!
How the draw will work
- Orlando will be the top seed of Group A, which will consist of six teams. The names of the remaining two East seeds (Atlanta & Toronto) are each placed in a ball and those two balls mixed together in a pot.
- A ball is randomly selected by the host and that East team will be designated as Group C seed (“C1”). The remaining ball in the pot is the Group E seed (“E1”).
- Similarly, the names of the three West seeds (LAFC, RSL, Seattle) are each placed in a ball and those three balls are mixed together in a pot.
- A ball is randomly selected by the host and that West team is assigned as Group B seed (“B1”). The next selection by the host will be the Group D seed (“D1”). And the remaining ball will be designated as Group F seed (“F1”).
The 11 unseeded East teams and the 9 unseeded West teams will be assigned to groups in the following manner, beginning with the Eastern Conference:
- The names of each of the 11 unseeded East teams are each placed in an unmarked ball and the 11 balls are mixed up in a pot.
- The 11 balls are then numbered “1” through “11”.
- A representative from the seeded team in Group A (Orlando City) picks a number at random between 1 and 11. The team name in the corresponding ball is assigned to Group A as “A2”. The designated representative of the Group C seed will then take a turn to do the same for team “C2”, followed by the Group E seed’s representative for team ”E2”. The sequence of turns is repeated until every unseeded East team is assigned a group slot.
- The names of the 9 unseeded West teams are each placed in an unmarked ball and the 9 balls are mixed up in a pot.
- The 9 balls are then numbered “1” through “9”.
- Representatives from each of the Group B, Group D and Group F seeds take turns picking a number at random between 1 and 9. The team name in the corresponding numbered ball is assigned to that seed’s group in the next available position (B2, D2 and F2 followed by B3, D3 and F3, etc.). The sequence is repeated until every unseeded West team is assigned a group.