By Michael Lewis
Will Nashville SC follow FC Dallas out of the MLS Is Back Tournament before playing a game?
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Wednesday night that a determination could be made overnight whether the first-year expansion will continue in the tournament.
Earlier in the day, The Athletic reported that nine Nashville players had tested positive for COVID-19. Nashville’s first game with Chicago Fire FC, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed.
On Monday, FC Dallas withdrew from the competition after 10 players had tested positive.
“We’re working very closely with the ID doctors,” Garber said at halftime on ESPN during the opening match of the tournament between Inter Miami CF and Orlando City at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. “We’re going to meet with them after tonight’s game. If we find that we have situation with Nashville that they can’t continue in the tournament, then we’ll make that decision overnight and move forward from there.”
During the interview, which lasted slightly less than three minutes Garber stressed how much the league has put the players’ health as a priority.
“Obviously, these are our players,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to be sick whether they have symptoms, or have COVID, or they have symptoms, or they are asymptomatic. We came up with this system with these protocols to test everybody as they were coming into Orlando. They had testing while they went through training, which started last month. And the whole concept was to ensure we were catching any infections as they were coming into Orlando, and that’s what happened with Dallas and that’s what has been happening with Nashville.”
Garber later said: “What I will say is the concept of all this testing our players, as you saw wearing masks, the sanitization of all our facilities is something that was put in place so that we could understand what was happening and to be able move forward with the tournament in a very safe and healthy way.”