Before the NBA begins its hopeful restart in the Disney Wide World of Sports bubble, the MLS is the first league that is efforting a campaign in Orlando with the MLS Is Back tournament. However, early returns on the soccer league’s attempt at a bubble have not been very good, as one team — FC Dallas — has already had to withdraw from the tournament due to an outbreak that saw 10 players and one coach test positive for COVID-19 while in the bubble.
Now, there is concern of another outbreak on a team as Nashville SC has reportedly had five players test positive for the novel coronavirus (with four tests still yet to come back) and as such, the second game of the tournament featuring Nashville and Chicago has been postponed.
BREAKING: @MLS confirms our report that the Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire game tomorrow night has been postponed. 5 Nashville players have been tested positive for Covid-19, and there were also 4 inconclusive tests.
— Stefano Fusaro (@FusaroESPN) July 7, 2020
.@MLS has postponed the second match of its MLS Is Back tournament, scheduled for Wednesday between Nashville and Chicago, after 5 Nashville SC players tested positive for COVID-19. The league has already sent one team, FC Dallas home, after 10 players tested positive.
— Kevin Baxter (@kbaxter11) July 7, 2020
The outbreak among Nashville players after what happened with Dallas illustrates the fragility of these bubbles, and why regular testing isn’t enough if the results don’t come back prior to players participating in team activities. It’s something the NBA and other leagues must be watching closely, as it illustrates just how quickly and easily the virus can spread through a team. Allowing players to interact with each other while waiting for results does nothing to prevent the virus from spreading and raises the possibility of an outbreak that could force a team to withdraw completely.
Whether that will happen with Nashville SC remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the MLS’ restart is already on thin ice before it even begins. Hopefully the players that test positive will either remain asymptomatic or avoid a serious case and be able to make a full and speedy recovery, whether with an eye on returning to the pitch for the tournament or not.