And then there were 24.
Three days after Major League Soccer forced FC Dallas to withdraw from the MLS Is Back Tournament because of a COVID-19 outbreak within its ranks, another team, Nashville SC, was also booted following nine confirmed positive tests, the league announced on Thursday.
“Due to the number of positive tests, the club has been unable to train since arriving in Orlando and would not be able to play matches,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “For every decision we make in our return to play, the well-being of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority.”
Nashville’s ouster leaves 24 teams remaining in the monthlong, World Cup-style event. The expansion team had played just two MLS regular season games before the global coronavirus pandemic shut the league down for almost four months starting in March.
Five players tested positive upon’s Nashville’s arrival into the Orlando area. Four more cases have been confirmed since, making the club’s participation in the tourney untenable.
“Our focus now lays on the recovery of our players who have been infected with COVID-19 and on getting our complete traveling party back home safely,” Nashville CEO Ian Ayre said in a press release. “Once everyone is safe and healthy in Nashville, we can then turn the page and focus on our preparation and participation in the return to play for the latter half of the season post Orlando.”
With both Dallas and Nashville now out, MLS has recalibrated its six groups, each of them now containing four teams. The Chicago Fire moved from Group A to Group B, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
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