Major League Soccer was just two weeks into its 25th season when the decision was made to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
League and team officials have been working to come up with a plan that would bring the season back in a way that is safe to players but exciting to fans as well.
The result of this is the MLS is Back Tournament, which will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando from July 8 to Aug. 11.
And NJ sports betting apps have the odds up and ready to roll.
How the MLS is Back Tournament works
The World Cup-style tournament will have all 26 MLS teams split into six groups, three per conference.
It features a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. EST. The majority of the matches are played in the evening.
The Eastern Conference will have one group of six and two groups of four. The Western Conference consists of three groups of four teams.
Each team will play three games. The top three teams from Group A and the top two teams from Groups B-F plus the next three teams with the overall highest point totals will advance to the Round of 16.
The winning team will get a slot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Each tournament game counts as a regular-season game so the stakes are very high in this tournament.
MLS odds at NJ sportsbooks
Most New Jersey sportsbook apps have future odds for potential winners of the MLS is Back tournament.
We included odds from four NJ apps:
Here are a few of the teams that oddsmakers in NJ are predicting to be major players in the MLS tournament. All odds as of June 30.
Los Angeles Football Club
Coming off of the best regular season in MLS history, LAFC was poised to build off of that in 2020.
Led by reigning MVP Carlos Vela, the team was 1-0-1 before the shutdown and are the favorites.
The only real challenge in their group is their crosstown rivals LA Galaxy. With their depth plus having an experienced coach in Bob Bradley, its win-or-bust for LAFC.
NJ sportsbooks have LAFC winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:
Toronto Football Club
Toronto FC are the defending Eastern Conference champions. They had a bit of luck during the break as they got back midfielder Michael Bradley from injury with only two games missed.
Having Bradley back plus a very easy group draw puts Toronto FC in the driver’s seat.
NJ sportsbooks have Toronto FC winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:
The Seattle Sounders are the reigning MLS Cup champions so they have recent experience with tournament play.
They will be playing in a weak group with FC Dallas, San Jose, and Vancouver. They should cruise to the knockout stage.
It will be there where Seattle’s offense, led by Jordan Morris, will be needed for any chance to bring home the title.
NJ sports betting sites have the Seattle Sounders winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:
Since its inception just four years ago, Atlanta United has made an immediate impact on the league and will be looking to continue the trend in this tournament.
However, they will be without star forward Josef Martinez as he suffered a torn ACL during the early part of the season.
If they can get past a group which includes Eastern Conference mainstays Columbus and the New York Red Bulls, ATL can make a splash in the Round of 16.
Sportsbooks have Atlanta United winning the MLS is Back Tournament at: