Monday, June 29, 2020

52 Positive Covid tests, MLS

Positive COVID-19 tests are rolling in for MLS in the lead up to the "MLS is Back" tournament next month, ESPN has reported.

18 players and 6 staff members tested positive during local training over the last few weeks and now it has been learned that 26 more players have tested positive prior to traveling to Orlando and another 2 players positive since arrival. 

The two testing positive since arriving at the "bubble" in Orlando is problematic as it requires not only the positive test players to quarantine but other players that have come in close contact as well. According to the ESPN report, MLS has not commented on that.

Summary of positive tests:
24: Return to training (6 staff)
26: Prior to Orlando travel
2: Upon arrival to Orlando

There are no plans to delay or stop the tournament at this time. 


The league seems hell-bent on holding the tournament. I think if it were up to Garber every player down there could test positive and he'd still hold it. It's probably a matter of the public threshold of how many can test positive. Like, if it starts to fall out of the range of the rest of the area/country. Right now that would probably be around 12+% of overall tests going positive.

Something else that could slow it down is if a popular player gets it and the news pokes out of the normal MLS social media twitter. 

I have two opinions on this whole MLS thing... 1. they are jumping the gun and should have just waited to start later (September) in their normal markets AND 2. MLS is effectively a trial balloon for the rest of the leagues restarting. Namely, the NFL. Where there is a lot of overlap in ownership.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

MLS is Back, Crew fans mad!

MLS released a schedule for their "MLS is Back" tournament that kicks off in a couple weeks. 

There is still an air of uncertainty around the start of the event, but Don Garber seems intent on kicking if off regardless of the real facts and/or narrative around the risks of the coronavirus.

Of course, with the release of the schedule, we have Crew fans getting upset with kick-off times and networks.

That's about all I have in me for this news. As for where I'm at with this event... I think MLS is trying to hard to get things started. ESPN just saw record low numbers for the ESPY's, while viewing numbers for NASCAR, horse racing, and golf are about the same as always. In other words, no massive bump for forcing things back.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Florida Covid Increase, Does MLS have a Problem?

CNN, NY Post, Vox, The Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Newsweek, CBS are news outlets that have fresh pieces up on the recent spike in new coronavirus cases in Florida this morning.

Looking at the numbers, it is true. Florida is spiking in new cases, but they are also testing a lot more people. This suggests that the state wants to know if reopening is an okay thing to do. That's good! It also suggests that either more people have always had the virus, they just weren't tested or Florida is in some deep dog do-do.

I've been closely monitoring both Ohio and Virginia since the outbreak, with a focus on deaths. Why that measurement? The one the people say has too much lag? Because I feel that when that figure rests at a very low number for 2+ weeks after re-opening then it may be possible to breathe a little. Both VA and Ohio appear to be close to the other side in that metric.

Early indicators of a new spread show up in other places. Raw new case numbers are a red flag, but more importantly % of new tests that are positive. All three, OH-VA-FL, appear to still be in a decent place with that. All clocking in at or around 5%.

That said, Florida is seeing a % increase alongside its recent increase in testing per day. Over the last few weeks, Virginia and Ohio have been testing around 10k a day. Florida, on the other hand, is testing 30k. Bigger state, more tests, yes. But if you look closely at my chart and the blue Florida line, you'll see it marching up a bit above where it has been.


Major League Soccer plans to kick off their Orlando, FL tournament in a couple weeks. With Florida cases on the rise, they might run into some friction. Not only with the general rise in cases, but with the optics of opening among a "second wave."

This might also alert the player's union and possibly cause some players to force their way out of playing (something we are seeing in the NBA). So, it could get messy. Especially if the long-feared second virus wave is matched with new positive tests and reported deaths across the country.

Friday, June 12, 2020

MLS - Covid Cup Details

The groups and stakes are set for a tournament in Orlando, but in splendid MLS form, things are a complete mess.

MLS had hardly just announced a draw format before they provided the first matchup between Orlando City and Miami whatever-their-name-is. A couple hours later the draw happened, but of course more rules. Groups had to consist of teams only from like conferences and instead of groups of 3 with two groups containing 4 (MLS has 26 teams), they inexplicably went with 5 groups of 4 and one group with 6? The image on the right shows how they did it. 

I'll never understand why MLS buries themselves in this stuff. I saw a league employee saying they had no time to put something better together. No shit. You spent 90% of your effort on crafting rules for seeding.

Anyway, the "blind draw" amazingly worked out for the league. Columbus is in a group with Cincy, LAFC with LA Galaxy. Seattle gets Vancouver (tho, no Portland. I guess having all three would look too rigged). Toronto gets Montreal. The as mentioned Orlando v. Miami and I'm sure there is some connection in Group D other than forgotten about teams + Minnesota.

A total of 16 teams will make the knockout stage (top 2 finishers in each group + 4 best 3rd placers).

Group games count towards regular-season standings. The knockout winner gets a ticket to play in the next CONCACAF Champions League + a million dollars.

The 10 teams missing out of the knockout get to go home to families and team training AT THEIR OWN TRAINING FACILITIES. Losers are the winners here.

Eastern Conference
Orlando City SC
Inter Miami CF
New York City FC
Philadelphia Union
Chicago Fire FC
Nashville SC

Western Conference
Seattle Sounders FC
FC Dallas
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
San Jose Earthquakes

Eastern Conference
Toronto FC
New England Revolution
Montreal Impact
D.C. United

Western Conference
Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City
Colorado Rapids
Minnesota United FC

Eastern Conference
Atlanta United FC
FC Cincinnati
New York Red Bulls
Columbus Crew SC

Western Conference
LA Galaxy
Houston Dynamo
Portland Timbers

Thursday, June 4, 2020

MLS, Union agree to return

After weeks of back and forth that increased with intensity (including a lockout threat) as time passed, Major League Soccer and the Players Association (Union) finally came to an agreement to return to play at some point in the near future.


The plan for return to play is one they have been leaking since the height of the pandemic - an Orlando tournament, of sorts, that has a World Cup feel (maybe?). Group stages with knockout stages. It makes sense since they will have to fit it in a small timeframe of 4-6 weeks with the hope being that after it is over things around the country (and Canada) will have returned to "normal" enough to play in home cities.

Here are a few bullet points: 

1. It will be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. I've been twice for MLS preseason, it's a neat place. Lots of fields, soccer, baseball, and an indoor center for basketball as well as cheerleading events (which I witnessed, crazy).

2. Teams will / are training in their home cities and will travel down to Orlando shortly before games begin. 

3. Games are not scheduled yet, but multiple news outlets are reporting that games will begin in early July.

4. There will be no fans.

5. Games will somehow count towards the regular season.

Don Garber is hellbent on getting MLS back on the pitch before the other major men's pro team sports get going. So far, it looks like he will get that, but he has missed the target on returning to play before the other major soccer leagues in Europe and will be a step behind the NWSL, who restart June 27 in Salt Lake City.

Soccer League Return Dates:

NOW: Germany is playing
June 11: Spain
June 17: England (Premier League)
June 20: Italy, English Championship
June 27: NWSL

There is some uncertainty around League 1 and 2 in England restarting at all.


Don Garber made it clear that negotiations were intense, which should come as no surprise when you consider the backdrop of national protests and pandemic. It got so heated that Garber threatened to lock out the players.

Ultimately it took a 5% player pay cut as well as some delay in the implementation of the latest CBA (pushed back to next season). MLS will also mortgage the future a bit by lowering media payouts to players over the next few years.


MLS really, really, REALLY wants to fill up an ESPN schedule with live sports content before the big boys get back going. The massive success of the Jordan documentary that pulled down NBA, MLB playoff figures, has sports executives salivating at a perceived pent up demand. That said, there does appear to be a few cracks in that argument as ratings on sports already going (motorsports, Bundesliga) have started to level off.

Nobody really knows how ratings will be, however. I think MLS is really trying to cram this event in and there's nothing in the league's history that tells me they can pull this off smoothly. 

Even with ESPN's hand-holding, I think this event will end up costing the league. Not just financially, but in respect as well. It will be nice to see teams playing again, but it will look like an amateur production. No crowds and really low camera angles. The players will also be out of practice and shape and let's not forget - it will be ORLANDO IN JULY. Games will grind to a sweltering halt in the second half.