This week has been a rough one for FC Dallas as they get ready for the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida. The club arrived with news that positive tests had happened to a player or two before they departed North Texas. But since they arrived in Florida, they’ve added as many as nine new positive cases.
With only 16 or so players available at this moment, we have to ask, is this tournament still worth it for FC Dallas? Our staff weighs in below.
Jason Poon - No
COVID-19 is no joke, and because it’s still so new, we have absolutely no data on the impact it has on your lungs both in the short term and long term. Can any of the Dallas players still perform at the level they need to? Are there any long term ramifications?
I get it. Soccer players, especially professional ones, want to soccer. I want the soccer. But since it’s spreading and the tournament is right around the corner, let’s just call it.
Jeff Loftin - No...mostly...definitely no
I don’t really like having a caveat here because the human side of me really despises the fact that we are prioritizing a sporting event over the actual health, lives, and livelihood of the athletes and their families. The sports fan side of me is like “hell yeah let’s do this!” but that makes up such a small, stupid part of my brain that I cannot rationalize a reason to play this tournament. My biggest worry is that people will continue to get sick and that the players, coaches, staff, and their families will get the brunt of this poor excuse for a soccer tournament.
Do I want to see soccer? Yes, more than most things right now. Do I want to risk people’s lives to do so? Not in the slightest. I want FC Dallas to take home this contrived title that is being handed out in Orlando, and I cannot wait for soccer to return...but not at the risk of people’s lives. That is just silly. Let them play FIFA and let’s watch Bundesliga soccer together until we have this situation more under control because right now things look bleak.
Drew Epperley - Yeaaaaahh.....uh.
We saw in the NWSL how one team was hit with COVID-19 and that they immediately pulled out of their return tournament in Utah. I know there is way more money on the line here for MLS to have everyone involved but at what point do we say ‘enough is enough on this’?
I’m with Jeff on this, I worry that not only are more people are going to get sick, but it is going to extend beyond FC Dallas.
But we know this is MLS and the ‘show will go on’ regardless here. Is nine points and a potential Concacaf Champions League spot really worth all this? Yeah, I’m struggling to think that it is here.
Ben Lyon - The die is cast.
Short of a massive outbreak within the bubble, the show will go on at this point, for better or worse. As a nation, perhaps we are neither built for the success of South Korea’s approach to the pandemic nor Sweden’s, um, not quite as successful plan, but we’re on a path- a uniquely American plan with just enough freedom to act like idiots to ruin most or all of our earlier mitigation strategies.
FC Dallas is uniquely built for a tournament where there’s going to be a problem, at least initially, with player quarantines, and there’s a bevy of young players who will stand to benefit and have the hunger and talent to do so. Looking beyond the club, this is a unique opportunity for the league to grow its footprint and a desperately needed distraction for folks despairing over a lost summer. Perhaps MLS can win some new fans while encouraging better behavior on a larger scale. If they could achieve that, it will result in fewer infections, fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths, and smaller costs to preserve the nation’s health and well-being. All of those outcomes are unarguably worthwhile and worth the risk.
Jack Rouse - Hard no
Orlando is getting a raw deal here. They’re hosting what could be a massive sporting event that brings in economic investment, tourism revenue, etc. but given the pandemic they’re only getting the worst parts. How did it end up in Orlando in the first place? I can’t imagine some sort of “not in my town” movement popping up. Regardless of the impacts on players, bubble or not, this is going to get folks in Orlando sick. They didn’t ask for this and no one deserves that. The reality of this pandemic is that even an unaware, non-symptomatic carrier can be responsible for someone’s death even if their interaction was only to the 100th degree. MLS has applauded the formation of a Black Players Coalition, but how are they going to ignore that due to race and class inequalities, the brunt of the corona impact is going to hit working class people of color in Orlando? It’s an awfully frustrating time to be a fan. Even if FCD doesn’t sit this one out, I just might.
Jose Carmona - Absolutely
We all know the politics involved, and regardless of your view on them, this tournament is happening. So the only real answer is a resounding yes.
FC Dallas despite being in one of the biggest markets, is rarely on National TV. Despite having one of the youngest, and most talented teams, is hardly ever on national broadcasts. Despite having an American heavy roster, with players that feature across all the age specific national teams, they're hardly ever seen. Despite playing an attractive style, a broadcast friendly style, they simply don't get seen.
With all the eyes that will be on this tournament, and all the matches being broadcast nationally, the answer is absolutely.