MLS will resume play at Disney World Resort in Orlando on July 8, and a pair of Florida teams have the honour of kicking off the tournament with Orlando City facing Inter Miami.

A day after the MLS is Back Tournament was announced, the league held a draw for the group stage on Thursday, placing the 26 teams into six groups.

Sixteen teams will then progress to the knockout stage, which will begin on July 25 ahead of an August 11 final.

Aside from the opening match, the rest of the tournament schedule has yet to be announced.

 

The groups for the MLS is Back Tournament:

Group A (Eastern Conference): Orlando City, Inter Miami, New York City, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Nashville SC.
Group B (Western Conference): Seattle Sounders, Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes.
Group C (Eastern Conference): Toronto, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, DC United.
Group D (Western Conference): Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United.
Group E (Eastern Conference): Atlanta United, FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew.
Group F (Western Conference): Los Angeles FC, LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers.

On April 6, 1996, the United States of America embraced a new competition as Major League Soccer debuted in San Jose.

After the collapse of the North American Soccer League 12 years earlier, a new 10-team league had formed, hoping to ride the crest of a wave from USA hosting the 1994 World Cup.

To mark 24 years to the day since Eric Wynalda's 88th-minute strike earned San Jose Clash a 1-0 win over DC United, we look at the biggest landmarks in MLS' history so far.

 

1996 - THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA

As part of the agreement to award USA the 1994 World Cup, the United States Soccer Federation had to commit to starting a new elite league.

The result was the formation of MLS - a 10-team competition with clubs such as LA Galaxy, DC United and New England Revolution all involved in that inaugural campaign.

DC United came from 2-0 down to beat the Galaxy 3-2 in the MLS Cup in front of 34,643 fans in Massachusetts.

2001 - HUNT TO THE RESCUE

After four years of dwindling attendances, the future of MLS appeared bleak when commissioner Don Garber staged a meeting in 2001 attended by both club owners and bankruptcy attorneys.

The league had lost $250million since its first game, but Philip Anschutz, the Kraft and Hunt families stepped forward to bankroll the 11 franchises between them.

The late Lamar Hunt had convinced owners not to fold the league, and it proved a shrewd decision...

2005 - THE EXPANSION BOOM BEGINS

For the first time since 1998 - when Chicago Fire and the short-lived Miami Fusion came on board - new MLS teams joined the party in the form of Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA.

MLS expanded to 13 clubs in 2007, and it grew in size in each of the next five seasons.

This season, MLS has 26 clubs and that number will grow to 30 by 2022.

2007 - DAVID BRINGS BECKS APPEAL

It could be argued no player has had a greater impact on MLS than one David Beckham.

The Manchester United and Real Madrid great arrived in the City of Stars in 2007 thanks to the 'Designated Player Rule' - nicknamed the 'Beckham Rule', allowing clubs to sign up to three players that count outside their salary cap.

LA Galaxy's acquisition of Beckham was seen as a huge coup. The England midfielder spent five seasons in Hollywood and his arrival helped put MLS on the map.

2012 - AMERICA'S SECOND FAVOURITE SPORT

As well as Beckham's arrival, the sport's popularity was also aided by USA's thrilling matches at the 2010 World Cup.

USA beat Algeria to reach the last 16 thanks to a last-gasp Landon Donovan goal, only to lose their first knockout match to Ghana in extra time.

Interest intensified, though, and in 2012 an ESPN poll found MLS was America's second-most popular sporting league among those aged 12-24 - behind just the NFL.

2018 - MARTINEZ AND ATLANTA BRING THE NOISE

The 2018 MLS Cup was watched by 73,019 fans at Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, shattering the previous final record of 61,316 supporters from 16 years earlier.

Atlanta, in just their second campaign, won the trophy during a memorable campaign when Josef Martinez scored a record 31 goals in the regular season.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic making the Galaxy must-watch again, Wayne Rooney transforming DC United and Carlos Vela firing at Los Angeles FC, it was one of the more memorable MLS campaigns to date.

Inter Miami suffered another loss to begin life in MLS, while LA Galaxy are also winless through two games.

Coming off a defeat to Los Angeles FC, Inter Miami went down to DC United 2-1 on Saturday.

Rodolfo Pizarro scored the first MLS goal in the club's history, sweeping in a Lewis Morgan cross to give them the lead in just the second minute.

However, the game turned early in the second half when, after Morgan thought he had doubled his side's lead, the visitors had the goal ruled out and Roman Torres sent off for a handball.

DC equalised through Yamil Asad's penalty in the 59th minute before finding what proved to be the winner just after the hour-mark.

Edison Flores hit the post with a free-kick and Frederic Brillant reacted quickest to fire in the rebound and lift DC to their first win of the season.

LA Galaxy are without a win through two games after suffering a 1-0 loss at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Tosaint Ricketts' smart side-footed finish in the 74th minute was enough for the Whitecaps.

Joe Corona was then sent off for Galaxy, who were beaten despite David Bingham later saving a Lucas Cavallini penalty.

Without the injured Josef Martinez, Atlanta United made it two wins from two by beating Cincinnati 2-1.

There are three teams with perfect records in the Western Conference in Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United and the Colorado Rapids.

Sporting KC thrashed Houston Dynamo 4-0, Ike Opara netted a brace in Minnesota's 5-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado edged Orlando City 2-1 thanks to Drew Moor's late winner.

New England Revolution and Chicago Fire drew 1-1, Real Salt Lake came from behind to hold the New York Red Bulls to a 1-1 draw and Maximiliano Urruti's brace helped Montreal Impact draw 2-2 with Dallas.

Ifunanyachi Achara's goal on his MLS debut saw Toronto overcome New York City 1-0, while the Seattle Sounders drew 1-1 against Columbus Crew.

Thierry Henry made a winning start as Montreal Impact coach in MLS, while Javier Hernandez's LA Galaxy debut ended in a draw on Saturday.

At the helm of Montreal, Henry's Impact came from behind to beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on the opening day of the MLS season.

The Arsenal great's side had fallen behind after just 13 minutes at Stade Olympique, where Teal Bunbury volleyed in a Cristian Penilla cross.

However, Romell Quioto headed in from close range to bring Montreal level just eight minutes before half-time.

And the hosts found an 80th-minute winner as Maximiliano Urruti spectacularly lobbed stranded New England goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Hernandez made his LA Galaxy debut in a 1-1 draw away to the Houston Dynamo.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward played 90 minutes as Houston came from behind, Mauro Manotas cancelling out Cristian Pavon's opener.

Atlanta United spoiled Nashville SC's first MLS game with a 2-1 victory at Nissan Stadium.

Walker Zimmerman scored Nashville's first goal to cancel out Ezequiel Barco's opener, but Emerson Hyndman's 37th-minute strike proved to be the winner in front of a crowd of 59,069.

Elsewhere, Oswaldo Alanis' brilliant 95th-minute free-kick helped the San Jose Earthquakes hold Toronto to a 2-2 draw.

The Colorado Rapids recorded a 2-1 win over DC United, Dallas beat Philadelphia Union 2-0, Orlando City and Real Salt Lake played out a 0-0 draw and Sporting Kansas City overcame the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1.

With Manchester City's Premier League title defence in tatters and a mounting injury list in defence, Pep Guardiola's side need reinforcements.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have been struck down by injuries this season, leaving City with limited options in defence.

As Liverpool run away with the title, City are eyeing an Inter star to rebuild their central defence.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGETING SKRINIAR

Manchester City have set their sights on Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to The Mirror.

Premier League champions City have struggled with injuries in defence this season as rivals Liverpool charge towards the title.

City are reportedly ready to buy in January and Skriniar – also a target for LaLiga champions Barcelona and Real Madrid – is on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says MLS outfit DC United want to sign Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric after Wayne Rooney's exit.

Juventus are "still hopeful" of signing Paris Saint-Germain loanee Mauro Icardi, reports Calciomercato. Icardi left Inter for PSG at the start of the season, having been linked to Juve and Napoli.

- Sky Sports claims Manchester United are interested in Leicester City star James Maddison, but are aware a January transfer will be difficult. Sky Sports also says the Red Devils are chasing Lille's Boubakary Soumare, along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Madrid and Valencia.

Mario Gotze will leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, according to Bild. Gotze's contract is set to expire and he has been unable to agree a new deal.

- TZ says Bayern Munich are interested in Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo, with the Bundesliga champions distancing themselves from RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann.

Wayne Rooney departed MLS after DC United were humbled by Toronto in extra time of their play-off clash, while defending champions Atlanta United advanced.

Derby County-bound Rooney was helpless as DC suffered a 5-1 defeat to Toronto after extra time in the opening round of the MLS post-season on Saturday.

Former Manchester United and England captain Rooney agreed a player-coach role with Championship outfit Derby in August, ahead of his January return to England.

But Rooney's DC and MLS farewell did not go according to plan after his team conceded four extra-time goals away to Toronto at BMO Field.

A dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser from DC's Lucas Rodriguez had forced extra time after cancelling out Marco Delgado's first-half opener.

However, Toronto erupted in extra time as Jonathan Osorio scored a brace while Richie Laryea and Nick DeLeon were also on target in the first additional period.

Toronto – MLS Cup champions in 2017 – will now face New York City in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Atlanta's hopes of claiming back-to-back MLS titles remain on track after edging New England Revolution 1-0.

Franco Escobar settled the contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where his 70th-minute goal guided Frank de Boer's side to the Eastern Conference semis to play the winner of Philadelphia Union versus New York Red Bulls.

Elsewhere, Seattle Sounders survived a seven-goal thriller as they prevailed 4-3 against Dallas after extra time.

A Jordan Morris hat-trick, completed in the 113th minute, sent the Sounders through to the next round, where they will meet Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semi-finals after their late 2-1 win over Portland Timbers.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.