Minnesota United returned to training Tuesday and intends to play Wednesday’s home game against Chicago as scheduled after it confirmed two players’ positive tests for coronavirus late last week.
All other players and staff have tested negative daily since the club on Saturday announced those two first-team players tested positive and Sunday’s game at FC Dallas was postponed.
The Loons hadn’t trained together since Friday. Players and staff were quarantined according to MLS protocols and tested three times each by Saturday evening after the two players tested positive. Daily tests on players and staff included two each administered Tuesday, and all are scheduled to be tested again on game day.
“Hopefully, we stay negative through today and tomorrow and the game will go ahead,” Loons coach Adrian Heath told reporters on a video conference call Tuesday afternoon.
Heath said “so far we seem as though we halted the progress” of COVID-19’s spread because of comprehensive testing after the two players — neither of whom has been named by the club or MLS — tested positive.
“But you’re never sure,” Heath said. “Obviously, it was a bit of a shock to the system because it has gone so well, so far. But other sports and other teams are finding once you come out of the bubble, keeping everybody who’s trying to go about their life safe from this disease, it’s proving very, very difficult. And we’re not different than anybody else. ...
“We expressed to the players how important it is follow all the protocols. But when you’ve got guys who have kids who go to school and guys who go out and get groceries, you leave yourself exposed probably every time you go through the door.”
The two players who were confirmed positive are being quarantined for two weeks, monitored daily and will adhere to league and team protocols, Heath said.
Heath said neither player displayed symptoms, but also said, “They’re over the worst. They’re feeling a little bit better themselves. We’ll get them back with the group as soon as possible.”
A rescheduled date for Sunday’s postponed game in Dallas has not been determined, a team spokesperson said.
The fifth-place Loons will play on, without the two players and starting midfielder Jan Gregus, who is playing overseas with his Slovakia national team, for home games Wednesday and Sunday against Houston.
“We know it’s a big week, probably will determine the rest of the season,” Heath said. “We know what’s at stake. We could have done without this, for obvious reasons. But here it is. We have to face it head on and not use it an excuse, but go play the way we can.”
Portugal’s soccer federation said Tuesday that international superstar Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for the virus.
MLS on Monday night postponed Colorado’s three games in the next 10 days because of COVID-19 cases among its players and staff. Those who continue to test negative can attend team training but otherwise will remain quarantined. Colorado’s past two games have been postponed as well.
FC Dallas and Nashville SC both were sent home from the midsummer MLS is Back tournament played in a “bubble” after each team experienced a viral outbreak.
“We saw what happened in Colorado, we saw when we arrived in the bubble in Orlando with Nashville and Dallas,” Heath said. “If you’re not careful, it can go through the club very, very quickly. ... You’re just waiting for every test to come back. Touch wood, we look as though we might have come out the other side. We have to stay vigilant. As Colorado proved, they thought they sorted it out and it came back with a vengeance.”