Mark July 9 on your calendars.

That’s the day the Union will become the first Philadelphia sports team to play a game since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world in mid-March.

The Union will play New York City FC that day in a 9 a.m. kickoff at Orlando, Fla., with the time set to avoid the worst of the summer heat. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the game nationally.

After that, the Union will play Nashville SC on July 14 at 8 p.m., televised in Spanish and English on Univision’s TUDN cable channel.

The group stage finale will be July 19 vs. Inter Miami, with a late kickoff time of 10:30 p.m. on FS1 in English and TUDN in Spanish.

“With everything here, not just the soccer but everything that’s going on in the world right now, there’s no coach’s manual, there’s no blueprint, there’s no book, there’s no real way to get an advantage,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “It’ll be a neutral field at a unique time for all of us.”

MLS announced the schedule on Wednesday, a day when Florida announced a record spike in COVID-19 cases. The state reported 5,508 new cases and 44 deaths. Within MLS, the Colorado Rapids announced their first player to test positive and Dallas-based website 3rdDegree.net reported that FC Dallas has had multiple positive cases since the team’s first one in early June.

The Union will fly to Orlando on July 2, a week before their first game. All of the league’s teams are flying charter, and arriving at the city’s small executive airport instead of its commercial one. The San Jose Earthquakes arrived Wednesday, the first team to do so. Orlando City will enter the bubble Thursday.

Curtin said he trusts that once the teams get into the bubble at Disney World, they’ll be safe. But there will be risks before then, and he said he has been “really hammering that home” with his players.

“I start every pre-practice talk with sticking to the rules, following the protocols — unfortunately, as a country, I would say we’re not the best rule-followers in the U.S.,” Curtin said. “It’s a time to not be selfish, it’s a time to think for others and do the right thing. It’s not a hard thing to put on a mask, as uncomfortable as it might be for 10 minutes or so. Just do it.”

There’s still only so much he can do.

“I’m not naive to the fact that it could take one trip to the Acme from somebody and they could come back with a positive case, that’s the reality of this,” Curtin said. “But we really want to try to do our best to minimize the interaction outside of our group.”

The San Jose Earthquakes arrived at Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort on Wednesday, becoming the first MLS team to enter the Orlando tournament bubble.
Major League Soccer
The San Jose Earthquakes arrived at Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort on Wednesday, becoming the first MLS team to enter the Orlando tournament bubble.

MLS also announced a change to the seeding format for the knockout rounds, in order to clean up a problem caused by having six teams in Group A. Instead of the top two teams in each of the six groups and the best four third-place finishers advancing, now the top three teams in Group A and the three best finishers across the board after them will advance.

That means the fourth-place team in Group A will no longer be punished if it does better than third-place teams in other groups. Teams, fans, and media pointed out the problem, and to the league’s credit, it got fixed.

“You just want them to get it right, and I think they did,” Curtin said. “It makes the competition more fair.”

The order of tiebreakers for seeding will be goal difference, then goals scored, then fair play points from yellow and red cards.

All 54 games in the 33-day event will be televised nationally. ESPN will televise 28 group stage games on its channels, including all seven 9 a.m. kickoffs and the group stage’s biggest game: the Los Angeles FC-Galaxy rivalry showdown on July 18 (10:30 p.m.).

Fox will televise nine group stage games in English, eight on FS1, and one on its broadcast network: Atlanta United-New York Red Bulls game on July 11 (8 p.m.). FS1′s slate is headlined by the Cincinnati-Columbus rivalry on July 11 and Galaxy-Portland Timbers on July 13 (10:30 p.m.).

TUDN will have the Spanish-language broadcasts of all of Fox’s group stage games, plus 10 exclusive group stage games including two rivalries: Montreal-Toronto on July 15 (8 p.m.) and Seattle-Vancouver on July 20 (10:30 p.m.).

In the knockout rounds, ESPN channels will have four round-of-16 games, two quarterfinals, one semifinal, and the Aug. 11 final. FS1 will have the other seven games. TUDN will have Spanish coverage of four of those seven games: one in the round of 16, two quarterfinals and one semifinal.

The winner of the tournament gets a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League and a cash prize.

MLS Orlando tournament schedule

Group stage

Wednesday, July 8: Orlando City vs. Inter Miami, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Thursday, July 9: New York City FC vs. Union, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. (TUDN); FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 10:30 p.m. (TUDN)

Friday, July 10: Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Saturday, July 11: Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. (Fox, TUDN); FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)

Sunday, July 12: Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Monday, July 13: Los Angeles FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. (FS1, TUDN); Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)

Tuesday, July 14: Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Union vs. Nashville SC, 8 p.m. (TUDN); Orlando City vs. New York City FC, 10:30 p.m. (TUDN)

Wednesday, July 15: Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. (TUDN); Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. (TUDN)

Thursday, July 16: Atlanta United vs. FC Cincinnati, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); D.C. United vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. (FS1, TUDN); Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)

Friday, July 17: Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Saturday, July 18: Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes); Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, July 19: New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire, 8 p.m. (FS1, TUDN); Inter Miami vs. Union, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)

Monday, July 20: Orlando City vs. Nashville SC, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m. (TUDN); Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 10:30 p.m. (TUDN)

Tuesday, July 21: Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew, 8 p.m. (TUDN); Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United, 10:30 p.m. (TUDN)

Wednesday, July 22: Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City, 9 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes); Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Thursday, July 23: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. (FS1, TUDN); Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

Round of 16

In the knockout rounds, note the game numbers. Those determine the winners’ paths through the bracket.

Saturday, July 25: Group A winner vs. Group B, C, D or E 3rd place, 8 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes — Game 40); Group A 2nd place vs. Group C 2nd place, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes — Game 41)

Sunday, July 26: Group B winner vs. Group A 3rd place, 8:30 p.m. (FS1 — Game 42); Group D winner vs. Group B, C, E or F 3rd place, 11 p.m. (FS1, TUDN — Game 43)

Monday, July 27: Group C winner vs. Group B, D or F 3rd place or Group A 4th place, 8:30 p.m. (FS1 — Game 44); Group B 2nd place vs. Group F 2nd place, 11 p.m. (FS1 — Game 45)

Tuesday, July 28: Group E winner vs. Group D 2nd Place, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes — Game 46); Group F winner vs. Group E 2nd place, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes — Game 47)

Quarterfinals

Thursday, July 30: Game 41 winner vs. Game 43 winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes — Game 48)

Friday, July 31: Game 40 winner vs. Game 45 winner, 7:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN — Game 49)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Game 42 winner vs. Game 47 winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes — Game 50); Game 44 winner vs. Game 46 winner, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN — Game 51)

Semifinals and final

Wednesday, Aug. 5: Game 48 winner vs. Game 51 winner, 8 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)

Thursday, Aug. 6: Game 49 winner vs. Game 50 winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Final, 8 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)