By Michael Lewis
Ready or not, here it comes.
Major League Soccer begins in earnest in the local markets a day after the MLS Is Back Tournament winds down after Portland Timbers FC meets Orlando City SC in the championship game in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday.
A day later the regular season kick starts as FC Dallas and Nashville SC, the two teams that were sent home from Orlando because they had players tested positive for COVID-19 left and right, start the league season again.
And then a week later, everyone gets into the mix.
I wish the league well. Leaving the protected bubble – give MLS a lot of credit for keeping the Coronavirus away after Dallas and Nashville had left — could very well become a challenge, especially if we see what has transpired with Major League Baseball.
Living in a hotel and an insulated community at Disney World is one thing.
Living in the real world is another with so many more unknown variables is an altogether different matter.
Just ask Major League Baseball, which has had to cancel games of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals due to player contracting the malady.
Much of the future will come down to how every player keeps himself away from outside influences. Now, I’m no doctor and I don’t even play one on TV, but I realize how fragile things can be these days, even with the best of intentions.
The virus can be spread around if one doesn’t take the proper precautionary measures, such as wearing a mask at all times when outside and keeping proper social distancing. No one can afford to let his or her guard down the disease is so insidious. As we have seen, it takes only one person to get the virus and start exposing friends, family and teammates to it – even if it is accidental.
Commissioner Don Garber and league officials know of the risk they are taking. Heck, on Saturday they said so themselves. They are ready to cancel games if tests come back positive.
What that will do to the integrity of the season? Who knows?
Speaking of integrity, allowing 18 of 24 teams qualify for the playoffs doesn’t help the league’s image one iota. I’ll take that in another column.
For now, I wish the league luck getting through what could be a difficult journey amid various local and state rules and regulations, COVID-19 outbreaks and finding a way to get the three Canadian teams games in the United States.
It could very well be a puzzle could that get more complicated and difficult to solve in the coming weeks.