A report in the Washington Post revealed that MLS has proposed a plan that would see all its teams and players congregate in Orlando for training and potentially games.
MLS would arrange for players, trainers, coaches, staff and referees to reside under quarantine at one of the resorts located at Disney World in Orlando, according to Steve Goff’s reporting. Games would take place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, though the format for an official competition has not been decided.
Two sources have told Sounder at Heart that MLS met with the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) — the organization responsible for managing the referee and assistant referee program in professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada — regarding the plans. A source confirmed the details of the report in the Washington Post article, though no formal announcement was made to PRO at Tuesday’s meeting. The parties are expected to meet again prior to an official announcement.
While the format for any potential competition has yet to be approved, sources for both players and referees have expressed concern about a lengthy absence from family, to say nothing of the potential logistical issues and safety concerns.
“How the hell are you going to get 1,500 people to eat meals in the same general window of time without being close to each other?” a source with knowledge of the situation asked rhetorically. “You have to triple-up on hotel staff and have meals in about 15 different locations at once, at minimum.”
MLS has yet to confirm they would be able to have sufficient testing for its employees, and no plan has been outlined in the event that players or staff test positive while at the resort. As a source put it, “Building a biosphere is a great concept, but there’s a reason we aren’t living on Mars yet.”
The MLS moratorium on large group training is set to expire on May 15, though the league has already allowed individual training at team facilities in jurisdictions where stay-at-home order have been relaxed. So far, the Sounders have not resumed training. However, a number of states are not close to allowing large group gatherings, which is the reason MLS would need to move its players to a central location. Players have also reportedly been asked to accept a 20% pay cut.
Neither MLS nor the MLSPA responded to a request for comment. The story will be updated if they respond.