Six FC Dallas players have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since arriving in the Orlando area for the MLS is Back Tournament, which is scheduled to start next Wednesday, the team and men’s pro soccer league announced.
Every member of the traveling party tested negative through an MLS-mandated testing service before departing Texas on Saturday morning, FC Dallas said.
In initial testing at the Disney resort where all 26 teams will house, two players tested positive Saturday. They were “immediately isolated from their teammates, the entire FC Dallas delegation, other MLS clubs and staff,” the team said.
Additional testing this week revealed four more infected players. The identities of the six players have not been made public and all six are in isolation at the hotel.
“All members of the club delegation are following MLS health and safety protocols and will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further covid-19 testing,” FC Dallas said.
The league said “no other members of the MLS delegation at the host hotel have tested positive, and no other club has been in contact with the FC Dallas delegation since they arrived in Florida.”
It is unclear whether the players caught the virus en route to Florida or upon arrival, or whether a test failed.
The official roster features 30 players and the traveling party was more than 40.
Dallas is scheduled to open group play July 9 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Group matches will count toward the regular season, which in March was interrupted after two weekends. Each team will play three group matches and 16 will advance to the knockout stage, which will not count toward the regular season.
Teams have been steadily arriving in the Orlando area via charters for the past week; it was up to eight Wednesday. As of Tuesday, MLS said, the six Dallas players were the only ones to test positive among 392 players, coaches, support staff and league personnel who had arrived at league headquarters.
In the months leading to the tournament, several teams announced at least one player had tested positive. On June 13, D.C. United said one player had tested positive. The unnamed player had mild symptoms and, after 14 days away from the team, resumed individual workouts this past weekend and rejoined full training Wednesday.
United is scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday afternoon. Its opener is July 10 against Toronto FC.
Delegations underwent two coronavirus tests in the days before departing for Florida. Previously, players were tested several times per week in home markets.
Teams are staying at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel on the Disney World campus. Anyone in the “MLS bubble” is not allowed to leave the sprawling complex, except for practices and matches at the nearby sports complex.
League medical and safety protocol calls for testing every other day during the first two weeks of a team’s stay. After those two weeks, everyone is tested “regularly,” the league said, including the day before each match.
Everyone staying at the hotel is required to wear masks in public areas and practice social distancing. Only individuals associated with MLS are staying at the hotel. No guests are allowed.
However, hotel workers and other support staff will come and go. Both MLS and Disney have declined to go into detail about screening and testing for those workers.
The NBA will also use Disney resorts and ESPN Wide Wide of Sports facilities in resuming their season late this month.