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Quick guide to the MLS is Back Tournament competition rules and awards

Colorado Rapids set to follow new rules of play in the summer tourney in Orlando.

In addition to adopting a long list of COVID-19 safety and wellness policies, the Colorado Rapids will follow a few new rules when they finally kick off their first game in the MLS is Back Tournament tonight against Real Salt Lake.

For the most part, the tournament will follow the same rules as the 2020 MLS regular season, but there are a few notable exceptions. Here is a look at the key changes and guidelines developed by MLS and the MLSPA that were adopted by all the clubs. (Read the full list of rules here and the update here.)

  • The match roster can have up to 23 eligible players.
  • Coaches can make up to 5 substitutes, but there will only be 3 opportunities to make subs.
  • There will be a mandatory “cooling break” as they typically would in hot and humid conditions, but officials may add discretionary “drinks breaks” as needed.
  • Points are the same (3 for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss) and only Group Stage points will count toward the regular season.
  • Any discipline/cards received in the first two games of the season carry into the tournament. Group Stage discipline will be reset for the Knockout Stage, except for red cards (including second yellow cards), and there will be no yellow card accumulation in the Knockout Stage.
  • Now that FC Dallas and Nashville SC are out, there are 6 groups of 4 teams, so each team will play three games in the Group Stage.
  • The Knockout Stage will begin on July 25, consisting of the Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and the Final. The top two teams from each group, along with the four best third-place teams overall, will move on to the Knockout Stage.

Tiebreakers are consistent with the regular season:

  1. Total number of points
  2. Goal differential
  3. Goals for
  4. Fewest disciplinary points
  5. Regulation time draws
John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

Tournament Awards

Here is a closer look at the awards that the boys in burgundy will be shooting for throughout the tournament:

Golden Boot Award

  • Top goalscorer of the tournament
  • First tiebreaker is assists
  • Audi will donate $10,000 to winner’s club’s academy

Player of the Tournament Award

  • Media (75% of vote) and fans (25% of vote) will vote for the MVP of the tournament

Golden Glove Award

  • Media (75% of vote) and Fans (25% of vote) will vote for the best goalkeeper of the tournament

Young Player of the Tournament Award

  • Media (75% of vote) and Fans (25% of vote) will vote for the best young player of the tournament
  • Must be 22 years old or younger (born on or after January 1, 1998)

MLS is Back Tournament Best XI Awards

  • Media will vote on the best 11 players of the tournament

Man of the Match Award

  • Following every game, a Man of the Match, determined by’s editorial team, will be announced

Team of the Week Award

  •’s editorial team will name the top players and coach after each week

Goal of the Tournament Award

  •’s editorial team will nominate eight top goals, then fans will vote to determine a winner

Save of the Tournament Award

  •’s editorial team will nominate eight top saves, then fans will vote on to determine a winner
  • Fans will rank the eight finalists on to determine the winner

Goal of the Week Award’s editorial team will nominate top contenders, then fans will vote on Twitter to determine a winner

The Rapids play Real Salt Lake tonight, July 12th, at 8:30 p.m. MT. Their next game is July 17th at 6 p.m. against Sporting Kansas City, and their third Group Stage match is July 22nd at 6 p.m. against Minnesota United FC. Find out what Colorado can expect from their opponents in our Group D preview and Go ‘Pids!