MLS Players, Officials Worried About Florida's COVID-19 Spike
Anxiety among MLS players and club officials is "rising as the number of COVID-19 cases in Florida surges" ahead of the league's MLS Is Back tournament, which kicks off July 8 in Orlando, according to Sam Stejskal of THE ATHLETIC. MLS teams are "scheduled to move into the league's 'bubble' at the Swan and Dolphin Resort" beginning tomorrow. All teams "must move into the bubble at least one full week prior to their first game in Orlando." Florida now has "recorded over 100,000 positive tests during the pandemic, and had set new single-day highs in cases in four of the previous five days prior to Sunday’s decrease." MLS for now "plans to go ahead with the tournament as planned." But sources said that the league and the MLSPA are "monitoring the situation in Florida with increasing vigilance and wariness, with concern growing among players and staff at various clubs about the spike in cases." The fact that hotel workers "will not be quarantined at the players’ resort but will instead be free to move about the Orlando area when not working is perhaps the largest worry." Sources said that MLS is "finalizing two different documents, one that will detail the league’s full health and safety protocols and a second that will outline the minutiae of day-to-day life in Orlando." Together, the documents were "described as similar in scope to the 113-page protocol created by the NBA for its Orlando competition" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/22).
ALL SYSTEMS GO IN ATLANTA: Atlanta United President Darren Eales yesterday said that the club's two players who recently tested positive for COVID-19 "will be expected to join the team when it travels to Orlando." Eales said that both players "continue to show no symptoms and have remained in isolation since Wednesday." He said that it was a "sign that the protocols put into place as safeguards against spreading COVID-19 are working." Eales also said that he had "no specific concerns about Orange County and that no Atlanta United players have said that they will refuse to travel with the team and participate in the tournament because of COVID-related concerns." Eales added that the club has "no threshold for a number of positive tests that would cause it as a club to reconsider participating in the tournament" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/23).