Report: MLS draws up groups, knockout rounds for Orlando tournament
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Major League Soccer is proposing a format of four groups followed by three knockout rounds for its 26-team tournament in Orlando, according to The Athletic.

The opening stage of the competition would feature five round-robin games before the top two teams in each group progress to the quarterfinals. The group-stage results will reportedly affect standings in the MLS regular season, with the intention for clubs to conclude the 2020 campaign later in the year.

Teams would be split into the four groups by conference, with Nashville SC temporarily moving from the West to East. Both Western Conference groups would comprise of six teams, while the Eastern Conference groups would have six and eight teams.

The plan - which is yet to be finalized - would feature a seeded team in each group. The remaining teams would be drawn at random from within their conferences.

Seeded Eastern teams: Atlanta United (U.S. Open Cup holders), Orlando City (hosts)

Seeded Western teams: Seattle Sounders (MLS Cup holders), Los Angeles FC (Supporters' Shield holders)

A decision is yet to be made on how teams will be rewarded for their performances at the Florida tournament, sources told The Athletic. There is no indication a trophy has been designed for the brief competition, but there is reportedly a working plan for an increased 18-team playoff format to boost matchday revenue and broadcast income at the end of the 2020 MLS season.

The bloated playoff system would take nine teams from each conference. Nashville SC will remain in the East for the remainder of 2020, which would give Western sides a better chance of reaching the postseason as they compete in a 12-team conference rather than the East's pool of 14 clubs.

MLS wants squads to arrive and train in Orlando from early June, with a target kickoff date set for July 3. However, the league has yet to respond to the MLS Players Association's list of around 100 questions concerning health and safety, spending time away from their families, the physical and mental toll of quarantining, and their compensation.

Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya expressed his reservations over the Orlando proposal to ESPN's Taylor Twellman earlier this week, describing MLS' plans as "a little bit rushed" and the players' potential living situations as "like being in a luxurious prison."

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Report: MLS draws up groups, knockout rounds for Orlando tournament
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