Happy Monday Caps fans, hope you all had a good independence day celebration last week, regardless of what side of the border you call home. And we also hope you’re gearing up for a safe, happy and productive week.
This week was set to be the start of the vaunted MLS Is Back Tournament but the league is, uh, having some issues in Orlando right now. As of Monday morning, it appeared there were 14 confirmed positive tests among players, with two non-players also testing positive. More cases among players are rumored, as well and whole teams have been unable to make their way to Orlando due to potential positive tests or inconclusive results.
The hardest hit by the virus has been FC Dallas, with 11 players and staff testing positive alone. Manager Luchi Gonzalez says the whole squad is self-isolating in their rooms at the moment.
.@FCDallas manager Luchi Gonzalez confirms to ESPN that the entire team has been quarantined in their rooms for 6 days in an abundance of caution following the positive Covid tests earlier in the week. Players and coach who tested positive remain isolated in another wing of hotel— Stefano Fusaro (@FusaroESPN) July 5, 2020
FC Dallas’ initial match was set to be against Vancouver later this week but its been postponed to a later date, meaning the Texan side is now set to begin the tournament on July 15, although Gonzalez has said even that might be a tall task.
From a health perspective, this is all kind of crazy. FC Dallas is set to be asked to play a match in nine days with a significant chunk of their first team squad (already reduced by injuries/visa issues/suspension) recovering from a disease which has potentially lingering health effects (even some pro athletes who have contracted COVID have said that they were not 100 percent even weeks after the recovery window had passed).
It appears likely that other matches are going to have to be postponed ahead of Wednesday’s start with other clubs, such as Nashville SC, having extensive issues.
Like a lot of people, I was excited for the tournament. Yeah I was a bit worried about the public health side of things but I couldn’t control that so I trusted/hoped (perhaps naively) that MLS would do right by the players.
But it now is explicitly clear how ridiculous this whole exercise is. Players, even those infected with COVID-19 are having trouble getting access to meals and are thus having to risk infecting others just to get fed. Teams are stranded across the country, sometimes in comically inept fashion, waiting on the go-ahead to fly into one of the world’s foremost COVID-19 hotspots.
I want soccer back, I want it back very much. But all this, just for a tournament that has minimal value in terms of the league standing? For a tournament which primary purpose is to recoup lost TV revenue?
Sure, it was likely, even near-certain, that people would test positive. MLS has said all along that they expected it. And given that humans are involved in organizing something like this, the best-case scenario wasn’t going to go off without a hitch.
But knowing what we know now about the landscape, about FC Dallas’ litany of positive tests, about Orlando’s increasing case count, about the fact that the U.S. is hurtling towards a second spike of cases earlier than anyone thought possible? Shouldn’t all of these things give the league pause?
Maybe pressing pause is in order, coming up with a two-week delay to better figure things out. Or maybe the league should just scrap it all together. But I can’t imagine people at MLS HQ are looking at backlash from the media and public, alongside the obvious alarm the positive tests engendered, and thinking “this is fine.”
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle talked with a Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician, Abraar Karan, who basically questioned what the hell MLS is doing here.
“I love sports. I want [them] back as much as anyone. But I can’t in good conscience say that it’s safe for players knowing that so many people are testing positive and that sports are going to be high-risk for the most part.”
When a physician at two of the foremost medical institutions in the world is saying this stuff, you would hope the league is taking note. For now, I suppose, we wait, holding out breath, and hope that everyone stays as safe as they can.
Best of the Rest
The Caps’ arrival in Orlando has been delayed due to “inconclusive” results but has been rescheduled for Monday. Presumably with no match later this week, their arrival is less of a rush
In terms of on the pitch action, The Province previews how the Caps might fare
Austin FC announces their first signing: