Nashville SC’s training session scheduled for Saturday evening did not happen. Why might that be? According to The Athletic‘s Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio, the team’s tests for coronavirus upon arrival in Orlando did not go according to plan:
The reporting duo noted a positive test was what scuttled the initial plans for Wednesday travel, but four additional positive tests would be a major issue! The team is scheduled for a game in just over three days!
Polymerase Chain Reaction tests can begin to accurately detect the virus (not the disease – which is the set of severe symptoms that can result from the virus) between 5-7 days after transmission, so assuming these are not false positives, the virus was brought to Orlando with the individuals, not acquired on-site.
MLS’s protocol for dealing with larger outbreaks of the virus in Orlando was never clearly defined – quarantining affected individuals is the known portion, but if a team has a number of players test positive, there are other factors to consider. The seven-day period for residing at Orlando’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel was designed to prevent players from arriving with the virus (but before it was detectable), but Nashville is already one of a couple teams to miss that necessary seven-day window due to delayed travel. The other, FC Dallas, had its opening game pushed back indefinitely. Will Nashville – scheduled for the tournament’s opening evening – see the same fate?
At this point, with the tournament happen as-scheduled at all? Multiple teams, including those based in Canada (where community spread has been contained far better due to governmental competence) have yet to arrive, and it stands to reason that players, executives, and local government officials will balk at heading to Orlando the worse the situation looks at Swan and Dolphin.
The best-case scenario is that Nashville’s four new potential cases are false positives, but the more realistic outlook is that, at the very least, NSC will play in the tournament short-handed. Worst-case? The team doesn’t play at all.