FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas' participation is the MLS is Back Tournament is over began it really began. MLS announced today that it was withdrawing FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament after 10 players and one coach tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando on June 27.
The situation is obviously disappointing for the club and fans, but the health and safety of the team’s Orlando contingent has always been the primary goal for FCD President Dan Hunt and head coach Luchi Gonzalez.
“As we continue to focus on the well-being of our players, coaches and staff who are in isolation in Orlando, we understand it is not in their best interests to compete at this time,” Luchi said in the announcement. “While we’re disappointed, the health and safety of our traveling delegation as well as our league partners is our highest priority.”
“It’s a difficult day here at FC Dallas, we worked incredibly hard to get ready for this return to play tournament in Orlando,” Hunt said on a media conference call on Monday night. “I’m disappointed but at the same time proud of our guys for stepping up and wanting to play in this tournament; as well as the amount of effort Luchi and his staff have out into this. Our players have worked so incredibly hard and I know are disappointed they’re not playing in the tournament.”
Considering the number of positive tests while in Orlando, Hunt feels MLS’s decision to remove the team from the competition was the correct course of action.
“I think MLS made the right decision,” Hunt added. “I fully support them because it’s almost impossible to ask professional athletes who have been quarantined in their rooms for seven days with no ability to train, to go out and play a tournament. So, I think it was a very reasonable decision from Major League Soccer.”
FC Dallas captain Reto Ziegler echoed Hunt’s sentiment, underlying that the team is disappointed but feels the decision was prudent considering the circumstances.
“We are disappointed because we came here to be competitive and fight for the trophy,” said Ziegler. “But at the moment it’s not the competition that we have in mind, it’s about the health of the team. I was excited to start this tournament, but we can do nothing against this virus and I think it was a reasonable decision (to be withdrawn). But I’m sure we are going to bounce back from this situation. We’re going to keep working, stay fit, and replay these three regular season games later on and I’m excited about that.”
FC Dallas was scheduled to play the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes in the Group B Stage presented by Heineken. The three matches are scheduled to be made up at a later date.
The team is currently working with Major League Soccer as well as officials in Florida and Texas to construct a plan to bring the FC Dallas traveling delegation back to Texas.