FC Dallas has withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament after 10 players and one member of the club’s technical staff tested positive for COVID-19, TSN has reported in the last hour.
MLS said each of the positive tests occurred upon the club’s arrival in Florida or within a few days after.
“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
“The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.”
The tournament is now down to 25 teams, and provides organizers with a headache with Group B now reduced to only three teams; Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes.
Given the competition rules, this unbalances the tournament and you wonder what the league will come up with since points earned in group matches count towards end of season placings. It also has an implication for the tournament structure too, since the best four 3rd-placed teams are due to qualify for the knock-out stages. With a game less for each of the teams in Group B, they are now appear to be at a disadvantage to the rest.
MLS said of the 557 players currently in Orlando, 13 have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Aside from the 10 from Dallas, two from Nashville (at first it was thought to be five) and one from Columbus also tested positive.
The tournament is due to begin, Wednesday (9 July) with the all-Floridian clash between Orlando City and David Beckham’s Inter-Miami.
Montreal Impact get underway a day later when they face New England Revolution.
The tournament ends with the final on Aug. 11.