The teams in Group A was the first to finish the Group Stage of the MLS is Back Tournament. Who were the teams that took advantage of this tournament’s unique format taking regular-season points and securing a place in the knockout rounds?
Orlando: 7 Points
The Lions took seven points from their three Group Stage matches; they won against Inter Miami, NYCFC, and drew Philadelphia. These points will count toward their regular-season total putting them near the top of the eastern conference. Their point total was also enough to win the group over Philadelphia based on a better goal difference. Óscar Pareja has his Orlando side organized and raring to go. They will now have to wait to know who their opponent is in the knockout rounds.
Orlando City will face off against a wildcard team in the knockout rounds. This will one of the top four third-place finishers from either Groups C, D or E.
Philadelphia: 7 Points
The Union was one of the teams favored to win Group A coming into the tournament. They fell short of that praise because they scored one less goal than Orlando City, but Philly showed something important in a tournament-style competition. Philadelphia won two matches and drew a third while not playing their best soccer. As they move to the knockout rounds they know they have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with anyone; if they can get things in order they will be a force to be reckoned with in the knockout rounds.
The Union also took seven points in the regular-season standings in this tournament putting them in fourth place in the east for when the regular season starts up again.
In the round of 16, the Union will face the second-place finisher in Group C. Group C finished play yesterday confirming the Union will face the New England Revolution on Saturday, July 27th at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN 2.
NYCFC: 3 Points
NYCFC was another team that was favored to do well in the MLS is Back Tournament. It is clear that this praise may have been misplaced. NYCFC was the top team in the east in 2019, but in their brief games played in 2020 before the Pandemic and now after have shown they may be regressing. Over five regular-season matches, New York has only three points. They only managed to beat Inter Miami in the MLS is Back Tournament, a result that may keep them alive for a wildcard spot.
This team is almost unchanged from 2019, the only change was in that of their head coach. Ronny Deila is not off to the best start at the helm of NYCFC. If they can sneak into the knockout rounds of this tournament, maybe they’ll wake up and pick up the slack and look like the team that won the east last season.
Inter Miami: 0 Points
With all the hype surround Inter Miami coming into 2020. The on the pitch product has not been great. Miami has a world-class ownership group and coach, but the tough start to their 2020 year can be attributed to the growing pains of being an expansion side. No wins over their first five matches of the MLS season has them in the basement of the eastern conference. No wins in the MLS is Back Tournament made them the first mathematically eliminated team from the tournament.
Miami will eventually bring in the stars that everyone was expecting, but this 2020 season will be full of growing pains for the new team. We’ll have to wait for the regular-season to start back up in the coming months to see how they will progress. For now, Miami sits as the only expansion side to ever lose their first five matches.
On to the Knockout Rounds
We know that Orlando and Philadelphia are into the knockout rounds. As more groups finish their group stages, we’ll see where things shake out. Could we see NYCFC as a wildcard team? Will the top finishers from this group make a championship run? We’ll see come this weekend!
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Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports