COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC in conjunction with Major League Soccer unveiled its MLS is Back Tournament Group Stage schedule. Crew SC is set to open the tournament on Saturday, July 11 against in-state rivals FC Cincinnati [10:30 p.m. ET / FS1, TUDN and TSN]. The MLS is Back Tournament, which takes place ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, runs from July 8-August 11.
The 54 matches of the MLS is Back Tournament will be televised nationally in the U.S. across ESPN, FOX Sports, and the Univision family of networks; in Canada on TSN and TVA Sports networks, as well as globally through the league’s international broadcast partners. All ESPN/2 matches will also be streamed live on the ESPN App. FOX/FS1 matches and TUDN matches will be streamed on the FOX Sports App and TUDN App, respectively. In addition, the 10 matches that are broadcast on TUDN exclusively in the U.S. will be streamed in English on the @TUDN Twitter handle.
For a full schedule of the MLS is Back Tournament, visit MLSsoccer.com. For a schedule of Crew SC’s group stage matches, please see below.
1. Columbus Crew SC vs. FC Cincinnati at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, July -broadcast on FS1, TUDN and TSN
2. Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 16 — broadcast on FS1, TUDN and TSN
3. Columbus Crew SC vs. Atlanta United at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21 — broadcast on TUDN* and TSN
* Per MLS: Matches that are broadcast on TUDN exclusively in the US will be streamed in English on the @TUDN Twitter handle.
“We are excited for the MLS Is Back Tournament and the return to competitive, meaningful matches. I know the fact that we are facing strong Eastern Conference opponents in the Group Stage, including FC Cincinnati, makes it especially exciting for the team and for our supporters,” said Crew SC President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Caleb and the staff have worked closely with our players to have them prepared to take to the field and I want to commend the team as they have worked tirelessly during the past few months to progress through the return to play phases that focused on health and safety on top of match readiness. In addition to the regular-season points on the line in the Group Stage, playing in the tournament provides an opportunity to compete for a place in the Concacaf Champions League, which raises the stakes for every team involved. We are ready to compete in what we believe will be compelling matches on a national stage.”
The Group Stage presented by Heineken will consist of 16 consecutive days of games with each MLS club playing three matches against teams within their drawn groups. All group stage match results will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings, as well as toward qualification to the MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Stage presented by Audi. The tournament will continue in the Knockout Stage presented by Audi with eight Round-of-16 matches, played as doubleheaders on four consecutive evenings (July 25-28), followed by four quarterfinal matches (July 30-August 1), two semifinal games (August 5-6) and the MLS is Back Tournament Final on August 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes and TSN). The tournament champion will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
Crew SC is in Group E of the MLS is Back Tournament alongside Atlanta United, FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bulls. Following its opening match against FC Cincinnati on July 11, Crew SC is slated to face the New York Red Bulls on Thursday, July 16 [10:30 p.m. ET / FS1, TUDN and TSN]. The Black & Gold then close out the group stage against Atlanta United on Tuesday, July 21 [8:00 p.m. ET / TUDN and TSN]. Additional content surrounding the matches will be announced in the near future.
ESPN will oversee game production services for MLS broadcast partners throughout the tournament, delivering produced feeds of all matches to FOX Sports, Univision, TSN, TVA Sports and the league’s international broadcast networks. Each broadcast partner will use their own on-air talent to call the games and produce their own graphics packages for use during telecasts. The MLS is Back Tournament on television will feature unique and experimental technology to enhance the production. More details on the production enhancements will be announced by MLS prior to the start of the tournament.
FOX Sports’ coverage of the MLS is Back Tournament will kick off on the FOX Broadcast Network, as the national over-the-air network will feature two of Crew SC’s group stage opponents, Atlanta United taking on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, July 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET. All FOX Sports and FS1 matches will also be streamed on the FOX Sports App.
The Univision family of networks will bring fans in-depth coverage of 19 of the 39 total matches in the Group Stage presented by Heineken. Matches not aired by an English-language network will be streamed live in English on the @TUDN Twitter handle. All TUDN matches will also be streamed on the TUDN App.
A partner since the league’s inaugural season, ESPN networks will televise a combined 28 matches, bring fans in the U.S. both English- and Spanish-language coverage of Major League Soccer’s return to play — from the first meeting of the two Florida clubs to kick off the tournament on July 8, all the way through the MLS is Back Tournament Final on August 11 (8:00 p.m. ET). All ESPN matches will also be streamed live on the ESPN App.
In addition to announcing the tournament’s schedule, MLS today confirmed a change to the tournament’s competition structure. The top three teams from Group A, the six-team group, will advance to the Knockout Stage. Those three teams will be joined by the top two teams from the remaining five groups, as well as the next three highest ranked teams from the Group Stage (the fourth-placed team in Group A is eligible to advance) based on points, goal difference, goals for and fair play points.