As the Chicago Fire trained in Orlando on Friday, the club’s opening match opponent at the MLS is Back Tournament finally arrived in Florida.
After two days of waiting because results from pre-screening COVID-19 tests were delayed, Nashville SC is in the MLS is Back “bubble”. The Fire’s second opponent, Inter Miami, arrived earlier this week. NYCFC, the Fire’s third and final group stage opponent, got to Orlando on Thursday.
The Fire are scheduled to open the MLS is Back Tournament against Nashville on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.—assuming everything remains on track.
There have been no updates from the league since The Athletic reported another three FC Dallas and one coach had tested positive for the coronavirus. Right now, Dallas has enough players with negative tests to go forward with matches, but if that were to change, the league may have to alter the entire schedule, as we saw in the National Women’s Soccer League when the Orlando Pride dropped out of the Challenge Cup.
Post-Orlando, MLS is still planning to hold an 18-22 match regular season in local markets beginning in mid-to-late August, according to Steven Goff of the Washington Post. The biggest issue the league will face is likely the fact that the coronavirus response has been so varied across the country. Just this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced an emergency order instituting a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for people traveling from 15 states dealing with surging coronavirus cases, including Florida. With many players living in condos in downtown Chicago, that could have a big impact on the Fire.
The next week or so leading into the opening round matches will be very interesting for both the fate of the tournament, and whatever happens after that.