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Orlando City to Face Miami, New York City FC, and Nashville in MLS is Back Tournament

The groups are set after today’s draw.

Orlando City now has its three opponents for the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament. The Lions learned before today’s draw (for some reason) that their first opponent will be Inter Miami CF. They will also face fellow 2015 expansion side New York City FC and Nashville SC in Group A play. Dates and times for each match, as well as national television partner networks and other details will be provided later, but MLS announced that Orlando and Miami will kick off the tournament as the host teams of the Florida-based tournament.

Major League Soccer also announced that VAR will be in effect for this tournament and that the league will utilize five substitutions per FIFA’s adopted 2020 rule. The five subs have to be inserted in no more than three stoppages.

The top two teams from all of the groups will advance to the knockout stage, along with the top four third-place finishers. One of those could certainly come from Group A — the only group with more than four teams. The other clubs drawn into Group A were the Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union.

Here’s a breakdown of which teams in Group A will play each other:

Although I called New York City FC as an opponent on this week’s Mane Land PawedCast, the draw could certainly have been worse (and, OK, I was wrong about the Lions also getting the Red Bulls). Orlando has this season’s two expansion teams, which balances out having to play last year’s Eastern Conference regular season standings leaders. The Lions avoided the other playoff teams from the Eastern Conference from last season, including Philadelphia, the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United, and the New England Revolution. Toronto FC and Atlanta United — the other two playoff teams from the East last year — are the top seeded teams in the other two Eastern Conference groups (C and E, respectively).

Here’s how the groups shook out via a draw that was not at all fixed and is completely coincidental in lumping together such rivals as LAFC vs. the LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake vs. the Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City, the Columbus Crew vs. FC Cincinnati, Toronto FC vs. the Montreal Impact, and the Seattle Sounders against Cascadia foe Vancouver.

Eastern Conference

Group A

  • Orlando City FC
  • Inter Miami CF
  • New York City FC
  • Philadelphia Union
  • Chicago Fire
  • Nashville SC

Group C

  • Toronto FC
  • New England Revolution
  • Montreal Impact
  • D.C. United

Group E

  • Atlanta United
  • FC Cincinnati
  • New York Red Bulls
  • Columbus Crew

Western Conference

Group B

Group D

Group F

Who has the easiest road? The toughest? What do you think about Orlando’s draw? Let’s discuss that in the comments section below.