MLS is Back Tournament Semifinals: Early preview of both matches

MLS is Back Bracket - Aug 6, 2020

We're down to the final four in the MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Stage presented by Audi.

The semifinals will be played midweek on Wednesday, August 5 and Thursday, August 6 and the winners will face off in the final on Tuesday, August 11, when one team will walk away with a Concacaf Champions League place, a trophy and chunk of prize money to boot. 

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Semifinal matchups

Here's a more in-depth look at how the second semifinal shapes up:

Orlando City SC vs. Minnesota United FC

Thursday, August 6 (8 pm ET | ESPN2, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS2 in Canada)

The Adrian Heath Derby will decide one of the spots in the MLS is Back Tournament final. Minnesota United FC and Orlando City SC will meet on Thursday in the second of the two semifinals, as Loons head coach Adrian Heath will face off against his old team. The Englishman was part of the Orlando organization since it’s inception, leading them to two USL titles. He lasted just one-and-a-half seasons with the Lions in MLS before he and the club decided to part ways. Orlando’s best season in MLS came under Heath in their inaugural campaign back in 2015. Neither Orlando or Minnesota, who Heath has coached since the club joined MLS in 2017, has won a trophy as an MLS club.

Orlando City SC: Orlando City continued what has been a remarkable run with their penalty kick shootout triumph over mighty LAFC. It might still be too early to declare the Lions fully arrived, but they earned their victory over the reigning Supporters’ Shield champs and seem to have a magic about them in this tournament. It’s the continuation of an admirable job from new head coach Oscar Pareja, who seems to have the players fully bought in on his philosophy and identity in a remarkably short time. They’ve looked the part of a legit contender, with a talented and cohesive attack and a defense that looks much improved over the leaky units of year’s past. 

Minnesota United FC: The perpetual underdogs enter Thursday’s match flying high. Though they have not been favored in either of their Knockout Stage matches, the Loons have been unable to jump out ahead in both matches. Against Columbus, they had to go into a penalty-kick shootout to advance, but their quarterfinal match against the San Jose Earthquakes was a much different story. After goals in the 20th and 21st minutes, Minnesota cruised to a 4-1 in over the Quakes to book their place in their semis.

Series history: Orlando have yet to beat Heath and the Loons as Minnesota have won two of the three meetings between the clubs, with the third being a 1-1 draw at Allianz Field last season.

FiveThirtyEight Projection to advance: Minnesota 54%, Orlando 46%