July 6, 2020 / 11:05 PM / a month ago

Update 1-Soccer-Dallas out of MLS is Back Tournament due to COVID-19 cases

* Safer in Orlando than home, says Garber

* Ten FC Dallas players test positive

* Cases spiking in Florida

By Steve Keating

July 6 (Reuters) - FC Dallas will not compete in the Orlando-based MLS Is Back Tournament that is set to begin this week after a number of their players tested positive for COVID-19, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said on Monday.

Ten Dallas players and one member of the club’s technical staff tested positive for the virus since the team’s June 27 arrival at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex for the month-long World Cup-style tournament.

Dallas were scheduled to open the tournament on Thursday against the Vancouver Whitecaps but MLS announced on Saturday that the game would be postponed as the Canadian side’s departure for Orlando was delayed after two inconclusive COVID-19 tests.

“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” Garber told Reuters in a phone interview. “As of today we have tested 550 players that are already in Orlando and we had 13 positive tests and that is a very low percentage.

“Ten of those 13 are from one team so clearly we had to remove Dallas from the tournament.

“We put those 10 players in isolation and we are managing the rest of their players in quarantine as well.” The FC Dallas decision comes on the same day the number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus deaths exceeded 130,000. Sixteen states have posted new record daily case counts this month. Florida confirmed a record high 11,000 in a single day, more than any European country reported in a single day at the height of the crisis there.

Despite the spike of positive cases in Florida, Garber insisted that players and staff will be safer in Orlando than other areas. “We have a very strict medical protocol in place,” said Garber. “In many ways players are safer in Orlando than they would be in a vast majority of the markets in the U.S. and Canada.” (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Additional reporting Frank Pingue. Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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