Source: MLS Confident Virus Has Not Spread Inside Orlando Bubble
"We're still one big unit. We're still all together and we'll keep moving forward. I absolutely believe that."— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) July 9, 2020
CEO Ian Ayre addresses our withdrawal from the #MLSisBack Tournament. #EveryoneN pic.twitter.com/9u8B8JwSSk
MLS "does not believe it has community spread within the MLS bubble" following the removal of FC Dallas and Nashville SC, and "all COVID-19 exposure was in teams' home markets," according to a source cited by Iliana Limon Romero of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The league is "working with a panel of infectious disease experts." MLS officials suggest that the cases "turned up after final testing in home markets or immediately after teams arrived," showing that the league’s safety policies "are effective." The league originally planned for teams to arrive weeks ahead of tournament play, mirroring the NBA’s return to play plan, but "tightened its timeline when players balked at spending months in Orlando." The more compressed schedule "did not provide enough time for Nashville SC or FC Dallas players to potentially recover, clear quarantine and play in the tournament" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/10). In DC, Steven Goff cites sources as saying that the league's "greatest concern all along was not necessarily teams contracting the virus at the hotel or playing facility." Rather, the fear was it being "brought from home markets without detection and going through an incubation period." Delegations were "tested regularly in the weeks leading to the tournament and immediately upon arrival at the hotel." Several players tested positive in the first few months of the pandemic and recovered (WASHINGTON POST, 7/10).
FIRST GLIMPSE: In Houston, Brian Smith writes in the opening days of its tournament, MLS already has provided a "glimpse of what sports could look like the next few months -- if sports can stick around." The initial view of the MLS is Back Tournament was "unique and interesting," which means that the view "should only improve." Still, the "inability to find consistency in this coronavirus world was reinforced Thursday, when Nashville dropped out." MLB is "struggling to get its testing right." The restart of the NBA season has "recently been dominated by players opting out and packaged meals." College football "continues to be a huge question mark," and the NFL "is the same." But if there is a "way through all this in 2020, MLS offered the first glimpse" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/10).