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Major League Soccer makes key changes ahead of 26-team tournament in Orlando

Major League Soccer has approved a couple of key changes ahead of the 26-team tournament to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando next month.

The 2020 regular MLS season has been converted from a league into a World Cup-style tournament in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and all games are scheduled to be played in Florida, starting from July 8.

Ahead of the 54-game event, the league’s governing body have made a few changes with respect to the number of substitutes and the players making up the matchday squads.

Earlier last month, FIFA got the approval from the International Football Association Board for the increase of substitutes from three to five, with teams in the different domestic leagues having to cope with congested fixtures.

The German Bundesliga were the first to accept the rule change when their season recommenced in mid-May and other top European leagues including the Spanish La Liga, English Premier League and Italian Serie A have since adopted the same.

It has now been confirmed that the ‘MLS is Back Tournament‘ will go with the substitute ruling, taking into regard the condition of the players as well as the extreme temperatures during the summer months in Orlando.

Orlando City and Inter Miami are set to play the opening game on July 8, but MLS have yet to announce the schedule for the remaining matches. It has been reported that the games could be played in the early morning or night in order to offset the weather’s impact.

A total of five substitutes will be permitted during the course of the tournament, but the changes must be made in three intervals in a 90-minute game. With the increase in substitutes, the matchday squads will also be expanded from the regular 18 players to 23.

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