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FC Dallas withdraws from MLS is Back, as does Carlos Vela, plus more: Freedom Kicks for 7/7/2020

Bad news for MLS, but we’ve also got some NWSL Challenge Cup thoughts

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FC Dallas v Montreal Impact - MLS 2020 Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get right to what’s going on with the MLS is Back Tournament:

FC Dallas withdrawn from MLS is Back Tournament |
What’s going on is that FC Dallas “have been withdrawn” from the event after having ten players and a staff member test positive for coronavirus. The details of what the league will do to sort things out as far as playing games goes are still unannounced as I’m sitting down to write this.

FC Dallas withdrawn from MLS is Back Tournament | Big D Soccer
FC Dallas withdrawn from MLS is Back Tournament after COVID-19 positives | The Athletic
FC Dallas out of MLS is Back Tournament amid coronavirus cases | ESPN
More on the situation from the FCD and league broadcast partner perspectives. Commissioner Don Garber says that the league’s top priority is player safety, but currently D.C. United’s first opponent arrived at the tournament well inside the incubation window for Covid-19, meaning that Toronto FC could at the moment play United while players on their roster could unwittingly carry the virus. Yes, MLS could still re-schedule that game, but we’re three days away from it happening.

In any case, the Dallas scenario may play out with Nashville SC as well, though things are not quite there yet:

DC United’s Julian Gressel on MLS return to play | Rippleworx
Julian Gressel says he feels “somewhat safe” in the Orlando bubble.

Moving over to the Washington Spirit, they clarified what would go on after Tegan McGrady (who has had some rotten luck with heavy collisions at the NWSL Challenge Cup) had to be checked out for a possible dislocated jaw:

B&RU, among others, had reached out to NWSL for clarification on what the league’s procedure was for players having to go to the hospital, as that information was not in any documentation available to media or fans. However, the main thing here is that McGrady is apparently fine, was wearing PPE and being checked out by doctors in PPE, and will have more frequent Covid-19 tests administered in the coming days.

Since we’re dropping threads on the Spirit, here are two more on what Sam Staab and Ashley Hatch had to say after being available to media after training yesterday:

The Spirit’s Queen City Quartet | Beautiful Game Network
Ever wanted to know what the Spirit’s four Cincinnati natives get when they drop by Skyline Chili?

And yes, as the member of Filibuster who is not from the Midwest and thus does not bring up Skyline Chili for the endless dispute over whether it’s good or not, I realize I have probably made a huge mistake in bringing it up.

LAFC star Carlos Vela will not play in the MLS tournament in Orlando | LA Times
Remember when this was yesterday’s big MLS news? Things move fast enough that the (not all that surprising) news that the league’s best player Carlos Vela missing out already feels old.

LAFC star Carlos Vela to sit out MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando | Angels on Parade
More on the story here. LAFC is still a threat to win the whole tournament without him, but it’s a huge loss for the club and league. That said, people shouldn’t blame any player for wanting to avoid a tournament that appears to be unsafe at this point.

Report: Nedum Onuoha did not travel to Orlando for MLS is Back | RSL Soapbox
The same goes for Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha, who later confirmed reports that he was going to stay home.

Piercing the MLS is Back Bubble | American Soccer Analysis
A data-based breakdown of exactly why the tournament isn’t safe at this point.

ESPN looking to “own the morning” with MLS Is Back Tournament | Sports Business
Assuming the tournament does happen, here’s a look at some of ESPN’s plans to enhance broadcasts, which include microphones embedded in the playing surface (which...also sounds potentially unsafe) and drone footage from above.

Interesting details about MLS is Back’s ‘bubble city’ | Brotherly Game
A three-acre pool? Isn’t that just a lake?

With emphatic goals and deft play, Shea Groom and the Dash fly into new respect | The Athletic
With the caveat that the Houston Dash haven’t played any legit contenders yet, they’ve been arguably the most improved team at the Challenge Cup. The Spirit, after playing last year’s top three teams to start things, are not really getting a break in game four.

The Houston Dash are not screwing around | All For XI
More on the Dash, who brought in established veterans at several spots that have both made them better and changed their culture.

FIFA not planning to reconsider Chicago, Vancouver for 2026 World Cup | Washington Post
Those are big cities, but the list of potential hosts is long enough to move on without it being an issue.

Former goalkeeper Jake Gleeson files $10.2 million lawsuit against 2 Portland Timbers team physicians | The Oregonian
Jake Gleeson had eight surgeries in under six months, retired early, and now says he still can’t kick a ball without pain.

R.I.P. Ennio Morricone, Oscar-winning film composer | AV Club
We end on a sad note. Ennio Morricone, whose influence in film was immeasurable, passed away at 91 yesterday. Among his best work: (most of) the score for one of my all-time favorite movies, The Thing: