Ian Ayre - Nashville SC - speaking
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Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre: Players "devastated" at tournament withdrawal but eager to look forward

Nashville SC were delivered a gutpunch with Thursday's news that the club was withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament after nine players tested positive for COVID-19.

But speaking on a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Nashville CEO Ian Ayre said that once the dust settles, he's confident that the club will be able to move forward and, hopefully, resume their expansion season once the tournament in Orlando concludes.

"I don't think it will surprise anybody to know that as well as us they were all devastated to have to withdraw from the tournament," Ayre said. "Unfortunately it was a medical and a timing issue that had us withdraw. The players were 100 percent committed right to the end. Devastated to hear the bad news. It will be a low point for a few days I'm sure, and our job and [head coach] Gary [Smith's] job and everybody else involved is deal with it, dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up and move on.

"It's certainly not our first rodeo in terms of difficult days, but it's certainly one of the toughest ones."

Ayre said that the players who tested positive are on the mend, with most being asymptomatic and a couple displaying minor symptoms.

"They're getting through it and they were on the [team] call this morning and doing ok," he said.

Having to withdraw after all the work that went into the preparation for the tournament will be a difficult pill to swallow in the coming days, but Ayre said he believes that his group will be able to work through the situation with a positive attitude. With the hope that the 2020 campaign will be able to resume with games in home markets, Ayre said his players are eager to get back to competing.

"The strength of the organization is climbing out of these hurdles and keeping going," Ayre said. "And I have to say that when [performance coach] John [Ireland] and I addressed all our players and staff this morning, whilst everybody took a real punch in the gut with that announcement, I think coming off that call we all believe that we're still one big unit, we're all together and we'll keep moving forward. I absolutely believe that. That doesn't make it easy and it doesn't make it ok and it doesn't mean we have to like it, but it means we've been fortunate to assemble a great group of players and staff here and we'll come back. We'll give everybody a few days to dust themselves off and get themselves healthy in whatever way is needed.

"But then our focus will be on getting everybody fit and ready and prepared for the rest of the season, which will recommence in August post-Orlando," he added. "Nothing changes in that regard."

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