MLS tournament games pushed back after FC Dallas COVID-19 cases
EDMONTON -- Soccer players, including one Edmontonian, are in a bind as The MLS is Back Tournament in Florida has to be adjusted while COVID-19 cases rise in the state.
“It’s pretty crazy. I don’t think I ever could have imagined being in a situation like this,” said Shamit Shome, an Edmontonian who plays for Montreal Impact.
Just getting to the tournament proved tough for several Canadian teams, including the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC. There were concerns over COVID-19 testing including a pair of inconclusive tests for Vancouver that later came back negative.
Shome’s team, like the others, are isolated in a bubble at a hotel in Florida, but the pandemic has infiltrated the group.
FC Dallas, following their arriving in Florida, withdrew from the tournament after 10 players and one coach tested positive for COVID-19. The team is currently under quarantine in Orlando.
Shome said he was surprised by how quickly the virus was able to spread within the MLS bubble.
“I think I’ve kind of been a bit naive on the whole situation...I really thought that because players would be tested before coming into the bubble that you probably wouldn’t have many positive cases within the bubble.”
Three players outside of FC Dallas have also tested positive so far: one from Columbus and two from Nashville.
The tournament was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, but games have been pushed back as the league adjusts to the loss of FC Dallas.
Despite the loss of one team Shome believes the tournament will be able to continue.
“I’m fairly confident. I think aside from Dallas and potentially Nashville there’s not too many other you know obstacles along the way to actually getting this tournament started.”
Even with the restrictions in place to protect them, players are allowed to walk around the resort. Despite that Shome believes that being stuck in one place for more than a month could have a negative effect on the players.
“I feel like some players might not be in the right headspace. A lot of players have families and kids who are stuck at home in different markets.”
This tournament will mark the first official MLS games since the season was suspended March 12 due to COVID-19.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Adam Cook and the Canadian Press