Good Friday morning Caps fans. Over here at CWTC we are gearing up to ride into the long weekend in a blaze of glory and we hope that all of you U.S-based readers are setting yourselves up to do the same.
We have been getting some more details on what the MLS-in-Orlando tournament blowout will look like and it is a pretty interesting read that really underscores the time in which we are living.
Players would be tested three times, more or less, before they hit the ground in Orlando, with regular testing continuing after that, according to The Athletic’s reporting. Once in Orlando, players would isolate in their hotel for seven days, with strictly controlled movement and individual workouts taking place in a specific part of the hotel.
Assuming the teams make it through that with no confirmed cases, we would move on to the actually playing soccer portion of events. Rather than paraphrase, here is what ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle wrote of the format for the tournament itself:
There would be three groups of six teams and a last group of eight, giving teams a minimum of five games each. The top two teams in each group which would advance to the knockout round. Supporters Shield holders LAFC, reigning MLS Cup champions the Seattle Sounders FC, last year’s U.S. Open Cup winners Atlanta United FC, and hometown team Orlando City SC would hold the top seeds in each group. Toronto FC would also be a seeded team in the eight-team group. Nashville SC would take up residence in the Eastern Conference, accounting for the unbalanced groups. Group stage games would count in the league standings, but the knockout games wouldn’t.
OK, so a lot to unpack throughout all of this. First off, I can’t stop laughing that Orlando City, as the “host,” would be a weighted seed for the group stage (a real shame the Caps cannot wind up in that group). The numbers are all kind of awkward but, overall, this is about what was expected. Teams will get five games to count towards the regular season standings, presumably in an effort to buy some time to get the regular season back under way in a more normal fashion. Someone gets a trophy, fans and stakeholders get some matches played—everyone wins, right?
Maybe, maybe not. It seems as though the players (and presumably, by extension, the MLSPA) have concerns.
“I think the players are taking all the risks by going down [to Orlando], being isolated, it’s a strong term to say, but it’s like being in a luxurious prison,” Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told ESPN.
I mean, he isn’t wrong. When you write all this out it starts to feel a little absurd to make all these accomodations, force players to take all these risks ... just to play in effect five matches that will count towards the regular season and give someone a trophy.
The Athletic pegs the rough number of personnel in quarantine as around 1,200 people, plus league and ESPN employees. That’s a lot of people! It makes sense that the players might be skeptical because, in an era where mass gatherings over 25 are limited, you could conceivably have far more in a relatively small space (admittedly Disney resorts are pretty massive so its not like we’re stuffing the New York Red Bulls into a space the size of my apartment).
And because summer in central Florida is anything but cool, the league is looking at playing matches at ... 9 am, 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. That’s going to make it a tough sell for casual fans lounging about at home.
I’m still conflicted on how I feel about this. I trust MLS to do its due diligence on all this (if only to avoid the PR headache of being the first U.S. sport to return and having it all go sideways) and obviously as a fan I want the league back. But this plan still seems like it might simply all be more trouble than its worth given the risk to the people who will actually be on the ground, forced to make it all go off.
This is likely to be just the first of many iterations of the plan. And there is still 10 days before teams can even do group training and/or even travel to Orlando to get this shindig underway. Expect a develop or two (or fifty) between now and then.
Shameless Self Promotion
Starved of much anything else to do, me and my 86F friends run down the best of times as a Caps fan, the worst of times as a Caps fan and the most important question you could consider: the best uniform in team history. Get your Friday started right!
Best of the Rest
After a nightmarish stint at Hull City, David Milinkovic went into detail about how he wants a fresh start in Vancouver
FC Cincinnati announced that Jaap Stam, former Manchester United defender, will be their next coach. By all accounts a good signing ... except there was just one problem. The guy in their announcement graphic? Well, it wasn’t Stam...
Alphonso Davies is all of us in quarantine:
Alphonso Davies' TikTok is the gift that just keeps giving— Goal (@goal) May 20, 2020
( TikTok/alphonsodavies) pic.twitter.com/j5PLdtIVvu
And apparently Real Madrid want him to replace Marcelo? Idk man seems like the kind of thing you cook up when there isn’t much else to report on...
The MLSPA is also locked in on a debate over how much money, if any, players should forego right now