|(June 25, 2020) — Major League Soccer has announced the full match schedule and broadcast details for the historic MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. Sporting Kansas City will kick off their Group D campaign on July 12 against rivals Minnesota United FC before facing the Colorado Rapids on July 17 and Real Salt Lake on July 22, with all three games shown live nationally on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN app.
Manager Peter Vermes spoke with the media this week about the tournament. Here’s what he had to say:
MLS is Back Tournament: Sporting KC Group Stage Schedule
Sporting’s group stage schedule features 7 p.m. CT matchups versus Minnesota and Colorado followed by an 8 a.m. CT meeting with Real Salt Lake, marking the earliest kickoff to a competitive game in club history. Group stage matches will count toward the 2020 regular season standings, giving Sporting the opportunity to build upon their perfect 2-0-0 start.
Sporting Kansas City will announce watch party details for the club’s MLS is Back Tournament matches in the near future.
All 54 matches of the MLS is Back Tournament will be televised nationally in the U.S. across ESPN, FOX Sports and the Univision family of networks; in Canada on TSN and TVA Sports networks, as well as globally through the league’s international broadcast partners. On television, the event will feature unique and experimental technology to enhance the production. More details on the production enhancements will be announced prior to the start of the tournament.
Running from July 8 to Aug. 11, the one-of-a-kind MLS is Back Tournament will mark the emphatic return of Major League Soccer after a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition consists of all 26 clubs divided into six groups. Groups A, C and E include the 14 Eastern Conference clubs-six teams in Group A and four each in Groups C and E-while Groups B, D and F each feature four Western Conference teams. Sixteen clubs will progress to the Knockout Stage presented by Audi, as follows:
A single-elimination bracket will play out from the Round of 16 onward to decide the tournament champion. Matches tied at the end of regulation in the Knockout Stage presented by Audi will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.
Group stage play will begin July 8 with the tournament opener between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF. The Round of 16 will run from July 25-28, followed by the Quarterfinals from July 30 – Aug. 1, Semifinals on Aug. 5-6 and Championship on Aug. 11. The tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, and all clubs will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.
Minnesota United FC is Sporting’s nearest geographical foe and the clubs have met 10 times across all competitions since the Loons joined MLS in 2017. Manager Peter Vermes’ side owns a 5-3-2 record in the series, including a home win and a road loss during the 2019 regular season.
The Colorado Rapids are Sporting’s most frequent opponent in club history. The sides have met 78 times since the inaugural 1996 MLS campaign, with Sporting holding a 31-29-18 record in an evenly played series.
Real Salt Lake has served as one of Sporting’s fiercest rivals over the last decade. Vermes’ men notably defeated RSL in MLS Cup 2013 and the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals at Children’s Mercy Park as well as the 2015 and 2018 editions of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. However, RSL is 8-1-5 in the regular season series since 2014.
Upon completion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS plans to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup. The final number of matches and the revised schedule for the remainder of the 2020 MLS regular season will be unveiled at a later date.