Sporting KC Learns Group Stage Opponents For Historic MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando


Sporting Kansas City learned today their three group stage opponents for the historic MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, joining Group D alongside fellow Western Conference clubs Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and Minnesota United FC.

MLS is Back Tournament: Group D

  • Sporting Kansas City
  • Real Salt Lake
  • Colorado Rapids
  • Minnesota United FC

Sporting Kansas City’s three group stage matches will count toward the 2020 MLS regular season standings, with a full tournament schedule—including match dates and broadcast details—to be announced in the near term.

The MLS is Back Tournament draw unfolded today, placing all 26 clubs into six separate groups. Groups A, C and E consist of the 14 Eastern Conference clubs—six teams in Group A and four each in Groups C and E—while Groups B, D and F each consist of four Western Conference teams. Nashville SC has moved to the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the 2020 campaign.

The top two finishers in each group and the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout rounds, with a single-elimination bracket from the Round of 16 onward. Matches tied at the end of regulation in the knockout phase will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout. Click here for the MLS is Back Tournament competition guidelines.

Group stage play will begin July 8 with the tournament opener between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF, the league announced today. The Round of 16 will run from July 25-28, followed by the Quarterfinals (July 30 – Aug. 1), Semifinals (Aug. 5-6) and Championship on Aug. 11.

The tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League and all clubs will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.

Sporting and Real Salt Lake share a rich history as fierce rivals over the last decade. Manager Peter Vermes’ men notably defeated RSL in MLS Cup 2013 and the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals at Children’s Mercy Park as well as the 2015 and 2018 editions of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Colorado Rapids are Sporting’s most frequent opponent in club history, as the clubs have met 78 times since the inaugural 1996 MLS campaign. Across all competitions, Sporting owns a 5-3-2 mark against regional foes Minnesota United FC since the Loons joined MLS in 2017.

Upon completion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS plans to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup. The final number of matches and the revised schedule for the remainder of the 2020 MLS regular season will be unveiled in the coming weeks.


  • June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
  • July 8: MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins
  • July 25-28: Round of 16
  • July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
  • Aug. 5-6: Semifinals
  • Aug. 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final


  • Number of Matches: 54 (39 group; 15 knockout)
  • No. of matchdays: 26
  • Format: Group Stage, followed by Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Championship match
  • Minimum Matches: 3 (per club)
  • Maximum Matches: 7 (per club)
Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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