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MLS is returning, announces tournament set at Walt Disney World

MLS is returning, announces tournament set at Walt Disney World

Major League Soccer is officially returning and is heading to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as a way to resume play in 2020. 

The MLS is Back Tournament is the first time the league is slated to play since the season was suspended due to COVID-19 on March 12. It is set to kick off July 8 and will run until August 11. 

The entirety of this tournament will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, where there 54 matches (39 group stage, 15 knockout round) will be played. All 26 MLS teams will be participating in the event, where the minimum of matches per club is set at three and the maximum is seven per finalist. 

Teams will start arriving at the location on June 24, but the group stage will officially begin on July 8. After the initial stage, a round of 16 will follow suit that is set to take place July 25-28. Quarterfinals are slated from July 30-August 1, semifinals will be held August 5-6 and the tournament will conclude with their final game on August 11. 

According to MLS, “The tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EST, with the majority of matches to be played in the evening.” 

The full game schedule release will be following a tournament draw that is set to take place Thursday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. EST. You can watch this live on MLSsoccer.com and other social platforms from the league. 

Now, while this will be separate from the regular season, play will still be factored in once the tournament wraps up. All 39 group stage games will be counted for points toward the regular season standings. Winner of the entire event will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League — whether it be a U.S. of Canadian team. For the 2020 season, this will replace who is traditionally deemed the regular season conference leader. 

There is also an opportunity for players to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million price pool.

Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, the league will continue its regular season. Though it will be a revised schedule set to be developed at a later date, it will ultimately lead to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup.

You can find more information on the rules and how the tournament will play out here

Health and safety protocols 

A medical department has been developed by the league and has been in consultation with infectious disease specialists, government officials and public health entities — all in an effort to focus on the safety of all who will be involved (players, coaches, officials and staff). 

Here are a few key points from MLS, breaking down protocols that must be followed:

  • All clubs must arrive no later than seven days before their first match
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests will be issued to all essential members of the tournament — this can detect an active COVID-19 infection. If a player or personnel test positive, they will not be allowed to travel and will be overseen by club medical staff. 
  • Only after receiving a negative test result, will players and staff be able to begin training. 
  • Tests will be given out every other day for the first 14 days following arrival to Orlando, in addition to self-temperature screenings and standardized screening questionnaires. 
  • Players, coaches and officials are asked to exercise care when spitting or clearing their nose.
  • Players, coaches and officials located on the bench or technical area are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • During a game, players have been asked to not exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.

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Union's Kacper Przybylko shares Covid-19 diagnosis, asks Philly to 'follow the rules'

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Union's Kacper Przybylko shares Covid-19 diagnosis, asks Philly to 'follow the rules'

Philadelphia Union striker Kacper Przybylko announced late Wednesday night that he was the team member who tested positive for Covid-19 in early April.

The team announced back on April 1 that an unidentified player had tested positive for the virus, saying the player - who we now know is Przybylko - had mild symptoms and was feeling well.

In a video posted to his personal Instagram account on Wednesday night, Przybylko echoed those sentiments, explaining what sounds like a brief battle with the virus.

Here's how Przybylko described his experience:

I just want to share with you all that I was the one who was tested positive by Covid-19. I immediately alerted the proper team officials about my symptoms, and went straight to self-isolating. My goal was not to risk anyone else. I received my test. I also went into quarantine for 14 days.

First of all, I would like to thank everybody for respecting my privacy at this time. I just needed some time for myself, before I wanted to share with everybody. Especially my teammates, my close friends, my family. Thanks for that. And also thanks for all the support I got from my fiancee, my family, my Union family, my teammates, the medical staff, everyone else, thanks for that.

I received mild symptoms, with a little bit of fever, but I feel great right now. I feel fully recovered right now. I'm looking forward to the magical moment, to be back at the practice with you guys. So, let's follow the rules. Philly is a big family, we all have to stay together, fight for each other, so let's follow the rules by the government. Hope you guys are staying safe. Your friendly striker. Be safe, I love you guys.

It is believed that Przybylko was the first Major League Soccer player to test positive for Covid-19.

Przybylko, 27, joined the Union in 2018, and made his debut with the club during the 2019 season, scoring 15 goals.

The team said in a release last month that it communicated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local medical officials, after Przybylko notified them of his symptoms.

The MLS, and all major professional sports leagues in the U.S., are still on hold amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

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Philadelphia Union player tests positive for COVID-19

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Philadelphia Union player tests positive for COVID-19

A Philadelphia Union player has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

The team did not specify which player tested positive.

The player experienced "mild symptoms", according to the team, and is currently feeling well and is in good spirits. The player has been isolated, according to the team, and no other players have cases or symptoms as of Wednesday.

The Union said the team's medical staff has been in consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local medical officials:

Based upon guidance from Crozer-Keystone Health System medical officials, infectious disease specialists and Major League Soccer health officials, this case does not present a risk to our fans, our most recent opponent, LAFC, or any of the other Union players, staff, or personnel do not need to be tested as the team is outside of the 14-day window where anyone with team related interactions with the player would have reported symptoms. 

The announcement is believed to be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 from a Major League Soccer player. A member of the Seattle Sounders support staff tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March.

The Union said it will provide more information as it becomes available.

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