MLS Commissioner Don Garber made it clear on Monday that the MLS is Back Tournament is a full go after FC Dallas were withdrawn from the tournament due to the impact of positive COVID-19 tests on the club’s ability to train and compete in Orlando.
A total of 10 FC Dallas players tested positive and they currently represent the overwhelming majority of 13 positive player tests conducted at tournament HQ since clubs first began arriving in Orlando. Columbus Crew SC revealed on July 2 that one of the club’s players tested positive.
“We have 550 players that have already been tested and 13 of them have tested positive,” Garber told ESPN SportsCenter. “Right now it’s an extremely low percentage. The players that are there [in Orlando] are safe, they’re comfortable, they’re training, they’re eating, they’re recreating. They’re doing the things in accordance with our protocols – they’re wearing masks, they’re socially distancing. They’re managing their lives in a bubble.
“Now if that bubble is suspect and something should happen, then we’re going to have to address that. Right now, we’re in a pretty good spot although Dallas will not be participating in the tournament. We’ll have to replace those regular season games they’re going to miss and continue to monitor the rest of the arrivals very closely. Thirteen of 550 [player tests] is relatively low. But in the days leading up to Wednesday’s opener on ESPN, we’re going to have to keep a close eye on it.”
As of Monday, a total of 21 clubs had traveled to Orlando with the final five arrivals scheduled between Monday and Tuesday. Since June 28 the league has provided testing updates every other day.
The MLS is Back Tournament kicks off on Wednesday, July 8 with the first-ever meeting between local side Orlando City SC and fellow Florida club Inter Miami CF (8 pm ET on ESPN in USA; TSN in Canada).
“It is [a full go],” Garber responded when asked if the MLS is Back Tournament is proceeding as planned. “We’ve got a great matchup with our new team in Miami playing against Orlando. And we have 50 other games that are going to take place throughout the tournament. And I just want to reiterate: We’re going to make the right decisions as it relates to the health and safety of our players. And right now the protocol is working.”