With 10 players and a member of the technical staff testing positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando, FC Dallas has dropped out of the MLS is Back Tournament. The news was first reported by The Athletic and confirmed by the league about 30 minutes later. The entire squad had not been training for almost a week and it was unclear when they’d be able to resume training.
“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a league statement. “The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.”
FC Dallas’ first match on July 9 had already been postponed, but the expectation was that they’d start the tournament on July 15 against the Seattle Sounders and make up their match against the Vancouver Whitecaps at a later date. The league announcement made no mention of how this would affect the rest of the tournament.
There are now just three teams in the Sounders’ group. Aside from competitive issues within the tournament, forging on with a three-team group would also leave those teams with one less regular-season game.
Although there’s a six-team group from which a team could be moved, that would only create other scheduling problems as there’s no way to ensure all those teams would each play three games.
It’s also possible that this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as teams dropping out and other postponements. Nashville SC reportedly has five positive test results and Taylor Twellman recently reported that teams not currently in Florida will still need to be there for seven days before being allowed to play, causing more delays.