By Joe Pantorno
Nine FC Dallas players and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 as they prepare for the MLS is Back Tournament, set to begin on July 8.
Six of those positive tests have come since the team arrived in Orlando — the tournament’s bubble site at Walt Disney World — earlier this week.
NYCFC was originally scheduled to play an exhibition match against FC Dallas on July 4, four days before the tournament, but the spike in coronavirus cases in Orlando forced them to move push back their travel date from June 27 to Thursday.
Per coronavirus prevention protocols, MLS teams need to be in Orlando for at least one week before playing their first match, meaning the exhibition had been canceled prior to FC Dallas’ positive tests, per a team spokesman.
NYC’s first match is scheduled for July 9 against the Philadelphia Union.
FC Dallas and MLS have declined to comment on the situation, which includes the team’s participation in the tournament.
According to Jeff Carlisle and Stefano Fusaro of ESPN, there have been talks of pushing back Dallas’ first game of the tournament from its original July 9 slot.
On June 28, MLS reported that 26 players tested positive for coronavirus out of 668 initial tests — a 2.7% positive test rate.
The MLS is Back Tournament consists of all 26 teams broken up into six groups — one of six teams and five of four. NYCFC is in the sextet of Group A while FC Dallas is in Group B.