The tournament is set to begin Wednesday with a pair of matches: Orlando City vs. Inter Miami, and Nashville vs. Chicago. The schedule originally included a match Wednesday between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps, but on Saturday that was pushed back to a later date because, according to the league, Vancouver’s arrival in Florida was delayed following a pair of inconclusive test results by Whitecaps players that were subsequently determined to be negative.
MLS said Monday that 10 FC Dallas players and a member of the team’s technical staff tested positive, either upon their arrival or within a few days. That brought the total of such results among the 557 MLS players in Florida to 13, per the league.
FC Dallas President Dan Hunt said he and his club “absolutely agree” agree with MLS’s decision to remove his team.
“We’re looking forward to resuming the 2020 season once the entire club is healthy and in position to play competitive matches at the highest level,” Hunt said.
“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,” said FC Dallas Coach Luchi Gonzalez. “While we’re disappointed, the health and safety of our traveling delegation as well as our league partners is our highest priority.”
The MLS Players Association also expressed support for the league’s decision.
FC Dallas said it will cooperate with MLS and health officials in Florida and Texas in forming a plan to bring its team back to its Dallas-area facility in a manner that minimizes health risks to all involved.
The club announced last week that after every member of its traveling party tested negative before departing for Florida, two players tested positive upon arrival, and four more did the same in later tests.
The withdrawal of the club from the tournament raises questions about the viability of the event as cases spike in Florida.
“In the event that we have an outbreak of the virus amongst our teams, then we’ll make the decision to not go forward with the tournament. But until that time, me and our clubs and the league leadership are very focused on going forward with a very close eye on the safety of the players,” Garber told ESPN on Monday.
Reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela announced Monday he will not accompany his club, Los Angeles FC, to the tournament out of concerns for the health of his family, particularly his pregnant wife.
The National Women’s Soccer League’s Orlando Pride withdraw last month from a league tournament in the Salt Lake City area after six players and four staff members tested positive.