Disney officially announces 'MLS Is Back Tournament'
The MLS will return in a tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex beginning July 8. Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Disney officially announces 'MLS Is Back Tournament' beginning July 8

Major League Soccer is back. The league, in conjunction with Walt Disney World, announced Wednesday that the "MLS is Back Tournament" will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from July 8 - Aug. 11.

"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. "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. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its Clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long."

The tournament will include all 26 clubs competing in a continuous schedule of 54 total matches that will be played nearly every day. These matches will count towards the 2020 MLS regular-season standings and the tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.

Matches will begin with the group stage followed by the knockout round and a pre-tournament draw to assign groups which will take place on June 11.

Fans will not be allowed to attend matches and many health and safety protocols will be in place, including regular coronavirus testing throughout the duration of the tournament.

This isn't the first time Disney World has hosted MLS play -- clubs played the 1998 preseason at the ESPN complex as well as the 2019 MLS All-Star Game.

Players resumed full training this week amid the coronavirus pandemic after the ban on such activities was lifted on June 4. By the time the tournament kicks off, players should be in good condition for matches to begin.

Erin Walsh is a Boston sports fan through and through. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bridgewater State University and currently is in pursuit of her Master's Degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Follow her on Twitter @ewalsh90.

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