Major League Soccer will return to the field on July 8 with a unique World Cup-style tournament featuring all 26 clubs competing at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida. Regular season points, a Concacaf Champions League berth and $1.1 million in prize money will be on the line.
But before any of that, there will be a draw to determine the path to potential glory for each team.
Watch on Thursday
Former MLS and US national team star Charlie Davies and Susannah Collins will host the event and representatives from each of the six seeded clubs will participate in the draw: Carlos Bocanegra (Atlanta United technical director), Ali Curtis (Toronto FC general manager), Chris Henderson (Seattle sporting director), Freddy Juarez (RSL head coach), Luiz Muzzi (Orlando City EVP Soccer Ops) and Mark Rojas (LAFC supporter).
The 26 MLS teams will be drawn into six groups (Groups A-F).
- Eastern Conference: The 14 East teams will be split into three groups, one of six teams (Group A) and two with four teams each (Group C & Group E). Note: For the remainder of the 2020 season, Nashville SC will move to the Eastern Conference.
- Western Conference: The 12 West teams will also be divided into three groups, each consisting of four teams each (Group B, Group D, Group F).
Each of the six groups will feature a seeded team and Thursday's draw will first determine the group for each of the seeds.
As the “host” team, Orlando City SC will automatically be designated as the top seed in the six-team Group A. Here's the full list of seeds:
- East: Orlando City (hosts)
- East: Atlanta United (2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs semifinalist)
- East: Toronto FC (2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs semifinalist)
- West: LAFC (2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs semifinalist)
- West: Seattle Sounders (2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs semifinalist)
- West: Real Salt Lake (next highest points total in the Western Conference from 2019 season)
- 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.