The fears held inside and outside of Major League Soccer about the upcoming tournament in Orlando are in danger of coming to fruition.
FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew have had COVID-19 outbreaks since arriving in Orlando, with Dallas having 10 positive cases in its traveling party. Dallas manager Luchi Gonzalez told a radio station there that he doesn’t know whether his team’s first game, set for July 9 vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps, will go on as scheduled.
“It just makes sense ... that we don’t go barrelling down right now until they know that have everything under control,” Vanney told the Canadian Press on Thursday.
The Union aren’t in quite the same situation, since coronavirus cases are rising again in Pennsylvania -- not to mention the differences between the U.S. and Canada. But they nonetheless flew into the maelstrom Thursday.
Manager Jim Curtin said in a news conference Friday that Union players and staff have all been tested twice already since arriving in Orlando. All the tests “came back clear,” Curtin said, allowing the team to begin practices Friday evening. That has to be a big relief across the league.
The only player not with the team is absent for non-virus reasons. Cory Burke hasn’t yet been able to leave Austrian club St. Pölten, where he’s been on loan since February. He wouldn’t arrive in Orlando with enough quarantine time in the Orlando bubble, so he is ineligible for the tournament.
“As you walk around this bubble, every precaution is being taken -- from the meals to the testing to the sanitation, hand sanitizer in the hallways,” Curtin said. “I haven’t laid eyes yet on another team.”
It’s unknown exactly when the positive cases were contracted. Because the virus’ incubation can be up to two weeks, it may well have happened before the teams left.
The Union’s staff couldn’t police all of their players down to the minute in what they did while off the clock, but Curtin said the players did a good job of following the rules.
“We stressed it, day in and day out, to follow the guidelines that we’re getting from science -- and not other areas,” he said. “That part has been handled well by the players and our medical staff, and I give them a lot of credit.”
It helped, Curtin said, that Pennsylvania stayed strong in keeping its strict rules on social distancing.
“As hard as it was in Pennsylvania and the strictness of [Gov.] Wolf, he’s turning out to be pretty right, to be honest,” Curtin said. “Are there going to be rule-breakers? Absolutely. I think one thing we’ve shown as a country is we’re not that good at following rules right now, and that’s why you’re seeing things become political and go in a bad direction.”