Thu, 13 Aug 2020

Miami, Orlando set to clash in MLS's return

Field Level Media
08 Jul 2020, 09:19 GMT+10

With Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC leading the way, MLS is back.

Following the season postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic, Miami and Orlando each look for its first 2020 victory on Wednesday night to kick off the "MLS is Back Tournament" at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

While the cloud of uncertainty hovers over MLS, and coronavirus cases surge in Florida, the league is going forward with its restart. MLS got through two weeks of its regular season before play was halted in early March.

"It's (a full-go)," MLS commissioner Don Garber told the league's official website. "We've got a great matchup with our new team in Miami playing against Orlando.

"We're going to make the right decisions as it relates to the health and safety of our players."

With players, staff and officials confined to the "bubble" of this central Florida complex (where all matches and training will take place) and extensive testing for the virus scheduled, MLS is taking a cautiously optimistic approach.

FC Dallas, though, have already been pulled from the tournament after 10 players tested positive. Additionally, Wednesday's second scheduled game, between Chicago and Nashville, was postponed after Nashville had five positive tests, and Friday's D.C. United-Toronto FC game was moved back to Sunday due to Toronto's late arrival.

The tournament features games within six groups, followed by a 16-team single-elimination bracket.

If the opening game goes as scheduled, Miami (0-2-0) will try again for its first franchise victory after suffering a pair of one-goal losses at Los Angeles FC and D.C. United. Rodolfo Pizarro scored the first goal in Miami's existence in the second minute of a 2-1 loss to D.C. on March 7.

"We are very excited, happy with the possibility to play again," coach Diego Alonso told Miami's official website. "Every match we have to play, we know it has a high value, because every time we play, we are making history."

Orlando (0-1-1, 1 point) played Real Salt Lake to a scoreless draw at home, then lost 2-1 at Colorado. Chris Mueller leveled the latter in the 82nd minute before the Rapids scored a stoppage-time winner.

"It's important for us to start the competition with a victory," midfielder Junior Urso told Orlando's official website. "Let's try to get three points, because it's important for us in the future."

All group-stage games during the MLS is Back Tournament will count toward the regular-season standings.

Miami announced that talented starting forward Robbie Robinson will not be part of the tournament due to personal reasons.

--Field Level Media

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