FC Dallas will not participate in the MLS is Back Tournament after 10 players and a technical staff member tested positive for COVID-19, MLS confirmed on Monday.
“Major League Soccer announced today that FC Dallas have been withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament due to 10 players and one member of the technical staff confirmed positive for COVID-19,” MLS said in a statement Monday evening. “The decision was made in the best interest of the health of all players and staff participating in the tournament, and in line with protocols created in conjunction with local and national health authorities and infectious disease experts.”
Three Dallas FC players reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 before the club left for Orlando on June 27. Seven additional players and one coach have since tested positive, forcing the team to suspend training and enter a mass quarantine.
“As we continue to focus on the well-being of our players, coaches and staff who are in isolation in Orlando, we understand it is not in their best interests to compete at this time” FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez said in a statement. “While we’re disappointed, the health and safety of our traveling delegation, as well as our league partners, is our highest priority.”
Dallas’s first game against Vancouver on Wednesday had already been postponed prior to Monday’s development. The club was due to play in the same group as the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes as well. It’s unclear what the club’s withdrawal means for the competitive stakes in the tournament–group games were due to count toward regular season standings–and if the league will realign the groups and move one from the six-team Group A to FCD’s group. It’s also unclear what would happen if more clubs suffer the same fate.
“If there is a situation at any time that I believe that the protocols aren’t working, and the health and safety of our players is at risk, then I will make the decision to shut down the tournament,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told The Associated Press. “That is something I committed to the players and to our entire league early on. But this is proving that our protocols worked and our plan so far has been sound.”
Prior to FC Dallas’s withdrawal came word Monday that LAFC star Carlos Vela, the league’s reigning MVP, had opted to not play in order to remain home with his family. Vela’s wife is pregnant.
FC Dallas isn’t the first American professional club to miss its league’s return-to-play competition. The NWSL’s Orlando Pride opted out of the league’s Challenge Cup tournament on June 22 after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
The MLS is Back tournament is slated to begin on Wednesday as Orlando City faces Inter Miami.
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