Maxi Moralez: “I personally always been against the tournament and traveling down but we have to accept the decisions that were made and continue and go down. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

If he had his way, Maxi Moralez would not be participating in the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando next month.

He is concerned about his and his family’s health and well-being, especially New York City FC will be traveling to a major hotspot.

But, the veteran midfielder has decided to journey down to Florida with his team.

“Honestly, it is really hard,” he said during a media conference call on Wednesday afternoon. “You see how many people are affected in Florida and of course, we’re traveling down there. I personally always been against the tournament and traveling down but we have to accept the decisions that were made and continue and go down. Of course, we’ll train well. I’ll be really careful, and we’ll be going down and take care of ourselves and make sure that no one gets sick.”

Moralez admitted that “we are a bit scared,” but had faith in Major League Soccer that the proper precautions and procedures have been made. The Orlando Pride was forced to drop out of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup because six players tested positive for COVID-19.

“We hope the league will have the proper protocols in place to make sure we are all ok and make sure that there will be no problems while we’re down there,” He said. “Hopefully, there won’t be any cases and we’ll all be safe and stay away from anyone who might be sick. But it’s definitely complicated. You do think about it, being down there. At the end of the day, we’re going down there to try to win and we want to win the tournament and get to the end.”

NYCFC will play three group stage games, meeting the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, July 9 at 9 a.m., Orlando City SC on Tuesday, July 14 at 10:30 p.m. and Chicago Fire FC on Sunday, July 19 at 8 p.m. All games will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

Asked what he thought the quality of the tournament would be, Moralez replied, “it’s a tournament where we all are going to try to play well. Each team is going to try to do their best. We’ve all have had kind of a new preseason just now.”

City was among the last teams to be given the go-ahead to train, by New York State.

“Some teams have had their full team train [for a while],” he added. “We unfortunately, didn’t have that luck. We go into [the tournament] with the mentality to play well and we know our fans are watching at home. So, we want to do well. The first three games are really important.”

Because those games will count in the standings.

“As they keep playing, each team will get better and better,” he said. “That’s what usually what happens anyway after a preseason. That’s kind of the same situation.”