Adam Hermann

MLS is Back Tournament 2020: Bracket, schedule, standings, odds, how to watch Union vs. Timbers

MLS is Back Tournament 2020: Bracket, schedule, standings, odds, how to watch Union vs. Timbers

Major League Soccer was the first men's American professional sports league to make its return during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the MLS Is Back Tournament kicking off July 8 at Walt Disney World.

It's a unique tournament that will set up the eventual MLS regular season, but there's a lot more on the line than just a warmup as the teams fight for a 2021 Concacaf Champions League spot.

Below, you can find a detailed walkthrough of the tournament so far -- including the hopes of the local side, the Philadelphia Union, who are on to the semifinals so far.   

What does the tournament look like? What are the key dates?

Here's a rundown of the tournament format. All games take place on the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

- First a group stage, then knockout rounds
- The group stage counts toward regular season points
- Tournament winner earns a 2021 Concacaf Champions League spot
- The regular season continues after tournament

And here are the key dates remaining. We're currently in the semifinals of the knockout stage after the group stage and the completion of the Round of 16 and quarterfinals.

- August 5-6: Semifinals
- August 11: Final

How do I watch the games?

Games are broadcast on a mixture of ESPN, TSN (Canada), TUDN (en español), FOX, FS1, TVA Sports (en français), and the respective ESPN, TSN, FOX Sports, TUDN, and TVA Sports apps, along with a few games being broadcast on Twitter.

MORE: Union honor Black victims of police violence with jersey names

Can I see the bracket?

Round of 16

Orlando City SC 1, Montreal Impact 0
July 25 - 8 p.m. ET

Philadelphia Union 1, New England Revolution 0
July 25 - 10:30 p.m. ET

NYCFC 3, Toronto FC 1
July 26 - 8:30 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City 0, Vancouver Whitecaps 0
SKC advances 3-1 on penalty kicks
July 26 - 11 p.m. ET

San Jose Earthquakes 5, Real Salt Lake 2
July 27 - 8:30 p.m. ET

LAFC 4, Seattle Sounders 1
July 27 - 11 p.m. ET

Minnesota United 1, Columbus Crew 1
Minnesota advances 5-3 on penalty kicks
July 28 - 8 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers 1, FC Cincinnati 1
Portland advances 4-2 on penalty kicks
July 28 - 10:30 p.m. ET

Quarterfinals

Philadelphia Union 3, Sporting Kansas City 1
July 30 - 8 p.m. ET | ESPN

Orlando City 1, LAFC 1
Orlando City advances 5-4 on penalty kicks
July 31 - 7:30 p.m. ET | FS1

Minnesota United 4, San Jose Earthquakes 1
August 1 - 8 p.m. ET | ESPN2

Portland Timbers 3, NYCFC 1
August 1 - 10:30 p.m. ET | FS1

Semifinals

Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers
August 5 - 8 p.m. ET | FS1

Orlando City vs. Minnesota United 
August 6 - 8 p.m. ET| ESPN

Final

Philadelphia/Portland vs. Orlando/Minnesota
August 11 - 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

What's up with the Union?

The Union will face off against the Portland Timbers on Aug. 5. They defeated New England in the Round of 16, and Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals. They defeated Inter Miami and New York City FC in the group stage, and played to a draw against Orlando City SC. Philadephia finished second in Group A as a result, losing the top spot to Orlando based on goal differential. 

How did the group stage finish? 

Six groups were determined during a draw on June 10. FC Dallas and Nashville SC were forced to drop out due to COVID-19 concerns. Below is the final group stage table. Teams designated with an X advanced to the knockout stage. The top two teams from each group advanced, as well as four wild card teams. 

Group A

  1. x-Orlando City SC - 7 pts, 2-0-1, goal differential of 3
  2. x-Philadelphia Union - 7 pts, 2-0-1, goal differential of 2
  3. x-New York City FC - 3 pts, 1-2-0
  4. Inter Miami CF - 0 pts, 0-3-0

Group B

  1. x-San Jose Earthquakes - 7 pts, 2-0-1
  2. x-Seattle Sounders FC - 4 pts, 1-1-1
  3. x-Vancouver Whitecaps FC - 3 pts, 1-2-0, goal differential of -2
  4. Chicago Fire FC - 3 pts, 1-2-0, goal differential of -3

Group C

  1. x-Toronto FC - 5 pts, 1-0-2, goal differential of 1, 6 goals for
  2. x-New England Revolution - 5 pts, 1-0-2, goal differential of 1, 2 goals for
  3. x-Montreal Impact - 3 pts, 1-2-0
  4. D.C. United - 2 pts, 0-1-2

Group D

  1. x-Sporting Kansas City - 6 pts, 2-1-0
  2. x-Minnesota United FC - 5 pts, 1-0-2
  3. x-Real Salt Lake - 4 pts, 1-1-1
  4. Colorado Rapids - 1 pt, 0-2-1

Group E

  1. x-Columbus Crew FC - 9 pts, 3-0-0
  2. z-FC Cincinnati - 6 pts, 2-1-0
  3. New York Red Bulls - 3 pts, 1-2-0
  4. Atlanta United FC - 0 pts, 0-3-0

Group F

  1. x-Portland Timbers - 7 pts, 2-0-1
  2. x-Los Angeles Football Club - 5 pts, 1-0-2
  3. Houston Dynamo - 2 pts, 0-1-2
  4. LA Galaxy - 1 pt, 0-2-1

 

Who are the best bets to win?

Here are the most recent odds to win the tournament, from DraftKings Sportsbook: 

Orlando City SC: +210
Portland Timbers: +240
Philadelphia Union: +250
Minnesota United FC: +270

Are fans allowed at games?

Because of safety protocols and restrictions put in place to keep players safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, fans are not allowed at games.

2020 NHL playoffs: Thursday qualifier games set, including Flyers' next matchup

2020 NHL playoffs: Thursday qualifier games set, including Flyers' next matchup

The NHL announced game times for Thursday's slate of action on Tuesday afternoon, including finalizing the Flyers' next round robin game in the league's 24-team tournament. 

Here's a look at Thursday's games:

• 12 p.m. ET: New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Game 4 - if necessary (CAR leads 2-0)
• 2:30 p.m. ET: Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 3 (MIN leads 1-0)
 4 p.m. ET: Flyers vs. Washington Capitals
• 6:30 p.m. ET: St. Louis Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights
• 8 p.m. ET: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Game 3 (CBJ leads 1-0)
• 10:30 p.m. ET: Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames, Game 4 (Tied, 1-1)

The Flyers, of course, resumed their season after 145 days off this past Sunday with a decisive 4-1 win over the East-leading Bruins, their first game of the return-to-play tournament.

The Flyers have a pair of games left in the round robin segment of the tournament: this Thursday's Capitals matchup, and a meeting with the Lightning on Saturday, the start time of which remains to be determined.

After one game apiece in the Eastern Conference round robin, the Flyers and Lightning both have two points, while the Capitals picked up one for an overtime loss to Tampa Bay, which puts a pretty big emphasis on the Flyers' matchup Thursday with Washington as they fight for positioning heading into the tournament's Round of 16.

And the Flyers will be sporting at least a slightly tweaked version of the lineup they rolled out in the win against Boston, after Michael Raffl went down with a leg injury in the third period. Joel Farabee will see action in Thursday's game.

Of course, if the rest of the Flyers play the way they did Thursday, not much is going to get in their way.

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NFL rumors: Some teams have 'snitch hotlines' set up for COVID-19 rule breakers

NFL rumors: Some teams have 'snitch hotlines' set up for COVID-19 rule breakers

The NFL seems to be taking cues from the NBA on how to handle its impending COVID-19 season - well, in one area, anyway.

One of the more joke-friendly aspects of the NBA's bubble in Orlando was the league's so-called "snitch hotline", which players could use to report other players' unsafe behavior, particularly behavior that might jeopardize the bubble itself.

Apparently, some of the people in charge of NFL teams saw the idea and decided it was a good way to keep everyone in check.

Because at a least "a few teams" have set up their own snitch hotlines as players return to team facilities for training camp, according to Yahoo! Sports:

A few teams have set up a phone number that employees can call if they want to report protocols being broken or other concerns.

"We call it a 'COVID help line' but it's a snitch line," one employee said.

Asked if they would consider calling it, the employee laughed and said, "Hell, no. I'm not calling that thing. I doubt anyone will ever call it. It's supposed to be anonymous, but I wouldn't take that chance."

Another employee said they have been instructed to report protocol issues but given no structure for how to do it.

"We were told that if we see something that we should say something," the employee said. "But I don't even know how that's supposed to work. I don't even know who I'm supposed to tell."

Everyone in the basketball world pointed to Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul as the player most likely to use the NBA's "snitch hotline".

So which teams have set up these lines - and which players are going to use them?

Here's one guess: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn't going to be punishing rule-breakers any time soon

Jokes aside, the idea of reporting risky conduct shouldn't be so taboo. More than just the ability to play football, people's health and safety will be on the line during the NFL season, and players need to take that responsibility seriously.

The league sent a memo to teams on Monday evening outlining potential fines for high risk behavior during the 2020 NFL season, including going to clubs, bars, and house parties without personal protective equipment.

As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro pointed out Monday, in such uncertain times, most safety measures are good measures:

Without being in a bubble, the NFL is counting on its players acting responsibly to limit the spread of the coronavirus. While all of these things might seem obvious, the added incentive to not get fined might prevent some stupid behavior. 

The Eagles are scheduled to start their season Sept. 13 against the Washington Football Team.

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