Major League Soccer and Minnesota United Readying for Return to Action… and New Tournament

Minnesota United forward Mason Toye (23) celebrated after he scored a goal in the second half against FC Cincinnati on June 29 at Allianz Field.

Soccer is surging in the U.S. sports landscape and it’s here to stay for the long-term. Some of you may roll your eyes and mumble about low scores or player flops. But it’s time for haters (like the guy who runs this website) to face facts: The MLS is going to be huge in the USA (just like every major soccer league in the world) and the Minnesota United FC has one of the most passionate fan bases league-wide.

For Americans who love the world’s game, any news on an expected return to Major League Soccer (MLS) is welcomed news and I’m here to bring that news to a site that’s criminally lacking Minnesota United FC and MLS content.

While MNUFC was flying high through the first two matches of the new season, scoring eight goals while allowing only three, COVID-19 cut any world-beating season way too short.

However, things are beginning to take shape around a potential return to top-league professional soccer here in the New World. As The Athletic reported last week, the plan would see all 26 clubs descend on Orlando, FL for a tournament much like the World Cup. 

Maybe that can fill some of the hole left by the USA Men’s National team when they missed the last real World Cup Tournament, which was held in Russia back in 2018.


The MLS Tournament:

Utilizing Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, teams would be split into two groups per conference, for a total of four groups. Each team would be guaranteed five matches. Under this format — the reigning MLS Cup winning Seattle Sounders, U.S. Open Cup winners Atlanta United, and Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC — would be seeded into separate groups. The final top-spot would be awarded to hosts, Orlando City

Orlando should savor this opportunity because this is the closest they will get to the top anytime in the near future. The remaining teams would be selected through a random draw within their conference. 

The top two teams in each group would then advance to an eight-team, knockout competition, which would likely count towards MLS league standings, should an abbreviated season restart later in the summer (or fall).

Embed from Getty Images

What does this mean for the Loons? 

The league is considering implementing polymerase chain reaction tests, serology tests, and contact tracing for those going to Orlando. But many fans will disregard those factors and focus on how their favorite clubs are going to play instead.

Within the report, each club would be permitted between 45 and 47 personnel deemed “club delegates”. That would include not only players but staff as well. Each team would need to bring three goalkeepers and no more than 30 players. 

This should work out favorably for Minnesota United. Tyler Miller looks to be a better option in net over fan-favorite, Vito Mannone. We’re all still itching to see more of second-year player, Dayne St. Clair, and maybe even some of the homegrown signing, Fred Emmings. 

Although depth has been an issue in some areas (namely at center forward and up top if Luis Amarilla and Mason Toye go cold), the team still brings back their entire back six, which gained incredible experience from a playoff berth and U.S Open Cup finals appearance last year. 

Throw in a lack of international competitions for Romain Metanire, Robin Lod, and Jan Gregus to partake in along with the hopeful continued development of second year players Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson and you have the makings for a team that could make it far if they get hot. 

This format also calls for an elimination of extra time for any knockout match tied after 90 minutes. Games would go directly to a penalty kick shootout instead. This would be an added benefit for a team that lacks depth. 

On top of that, roster sizes would increase from the typical 18 player gameday roster to a maximum of 23 players available for a game and 12 bench options for substitutes. 

With most of the team in or soon to be exiting their prime, this should give plenty of reason for manager Adrian Heath to push for the best possible results, instead of focusing on young player development. But if the club is up big or in no position to win, the expanded roster could give Heath a reason to throw in the youngsters for a time. 

This all came from a leaked report, which led to MLS Commissioner Don Garber issuing a statement. There is no current prize money or trophy set to be awarded…. and then you have the player safety concerns and the official MLSPA vote that is yet to be scheduled… But this is a step in the right direction and hopefully it leads to the most beautiful game in the world back into our lives.

Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan

Mentioned in this article:

More About: