The time has arrived where MLS is back. Since the last MLS games back in March, things have gone sideways with the COVID-19 pandemic claiming the headlines. MLS is the first major sports league to resume play in the United States, and it all started Wednesday night. The tournament is taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. However, the tournament is two teams shy of full participation as both FC Dallas and Nashville SC had to withdrawal from the tournament due to the number of positive COVID-19 tests on the respective teams. The withdrawal of Nashville, announced Thursday, allowed the league to evenly shift things around by moving the Chicago Fire from Group A to Group B. The Fire join the San Jose Quakes, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The MLS is Back tournament kicked off on Wednesday night with expansion side Inter Miami CF facing in-state rival Orlando City, but the match was secondary to the incredible Black Lives Matter display that took place prior to the match.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 9, 2020
Orlando City got the tournament going in fantastic fashion with a thrilling 2-1 victory. The first half was less than stellar, mostly due to the fact this was the first game action in months for these clubs. It wasn’t until after the match restarted in the second half before we saw the first goal. Juan Agudelo got things going for the expansion side with a goal from close range, just two minutes into the second half. The goal was the product of a nice cross that came from Victor Ulloa. That was the only positivity for the remainder of the match for Inter Miami because Orlando City designated player Nani took over. Just 23 minutes after Agudelo scored, Nani sent a hard cross into the box and saw Chris Mueller tuck it home for his first of the tournament to tie things up. Nani made sure to send his club home with all three points when he scored from about 10 yards out seven minutes into stoppage time.
The other match in Group A saw the Philadelphia Union knock off New York City FC 1-0 in the first morning match of the tournament. Alejandro Bedoya scored the goal 63 minutes in, giving the Union the full three points and giving them an advantage in the group. The Union defense was in bend but don’t break mode, facing 17 shots, seven of those on target, and seeing NYCFC with 60% of the possession. The victory puts the Union in a good spot with matches against Inter Miami and Orlando City on the horizon.
Group C play started with the New England Revolution knocking off Thierry Henry’s Montreal Impact side 1-0 on Thursday. Bruce Arena’s Revolution used a 56th-minute goal from Gustavo Bou to avenge their 2-1 opening game loss at Montreal in February. The Revolution outshot Montreal 19-7, continuing to apply the pressure to the Canadian side. The victory for Arena and New England avenges the early season loss and gives them momentum heading into the final two group stage matches.
Below is the schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament for the upcoming week.
Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 9 p.m. – ESPN
Atlanta United FC vs. New York Red Bulls – 8 p.m. – (FOX)
FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC – 10:30 p.m. – (FS1)
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United – 9 a.m. – (ESPN2)
Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC – 8 p.m. – (ESPN)
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. – (ESPN)
Los Angeles FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. – (FS1)
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers – 10:30 p.m. – (FS1)
Tuesday, July 14
Seattle Sounders vs. Chicago Fire FC – 9 a.m. – (ESPN)
Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC – 8 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. Inter Miami CF – 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 15
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC – 8 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10:30 p.m.
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk as we take a look at FC Cincinnati’s run in the MLS is Back Tournament.