MLS Plans Orlando 2020 Tournament
This current campaign signifies a quarter century of MLS action and after reaching such a landmark, there was not only optimism for the next 25 years, but also a reason to celebrate the hard work undertaken in the first.
To create such a lifespan in a crowded U.S sporting environment and from such humble beginnings is testament to the efforts that Don Garber and his cohorts have put in across the past two and a half decades.
While although there was understandable disappointment at MLS’s party being halted before it ever really got going, the race for a solution and ability to restart proceedings is one that has recently picked up pace.
Due to the lopsided schedule that the 26 MLS franchises face (playing a total of 34 regular season matches), there was always going to be scope to curtail that and one idea suggested, playing each other just once instead.
This would have meant a 25-game regular season, before moving on to the play-off schedule that would remain unchanged from its initial plan. Unfortunately, the longer the hiatus and a break in play, the tighter any potential schedule would have to be.
This hopeful resolution was mooted back in early April and with two additional months of abeyance to follow, it has meant that the feasibility of a playing out a standard league format, has only dissipated further.
However, where there’s a will, there’s a way and it is one that could be found in Orlando. The idea of an additional mini tournament has been mooted and it is one, that would offer at least five games to each MLS franchise, in a bid to return to competitive sharpness.
The gang of 26, would be split into four groups (three of six and one of eight), with the top two from each entering the last eight knockout phase and from here, a winner of the 2020 Orlando tournament would be crowned.
Of course, that would not be the only action to take place within the confines of the 25th MLS season and there are initial plans to revive the current campaign from its slumber, with the possibility to schedule 18 regular season games with only intra-conference matchups.
That would at least provide nine entrants per conference into the play-offs and from there, it would be the usual race to the MLS Cup – a trophy that was last lifted by Seattle Sounders, back in November 2019.
While although the Orlando tournament does seem like the perfect vehicle to get things moving once again, there is an element of apprehension and one that comes from players who are showing some resistance to the plan.
Their collective concerns stem from the need to be away from their families for up to 10 weeks and most likely in quarantine conditions at the same time – something that does not sound appealing to players within the MLS fraternity.
That’s not to suggest they are unwilling to take to the playing field, far from it and anything it is their clamour to restart which has help push along plans for an Orlando outing. At the same time, the issue of ‘sporting house arrest’ still needs to be addressed.
Ultimately, for any league around the world to restart, sacrifices are going to have to be made and if MLS wants to join its European counterparts in pressing the greenlight, an eventual compromise will have to be found. One that hopefully can be found sooner, rather than later.
Written by Dan Tracey
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