When Major League Soccer announced its plans to return to play in early June via the MLS is Back Tournament, questions arose in regards to the league’s plan on keeping players safe once they arrived at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. The first games of the tournament are just five days away but positive tests in the FC Dallas and Columbus Crew SC camps after arriving to the bubble cast doubt as to whether the tournament will actually kick off on time.
Despite being inside the bubble, players have expressed concern as to how the situation is being handled. One of those players is Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
The goalkeeper took to social media to voice his concern about the tournament for himself and other players in the league.
For everyone in the “These are pro athletes. There is no risk. Nothing happens to them if they get the virus” camp - I am high risk. And I know for a fact there are multiple others at #MLSisBack that are as well - including other players on their way here. This is serious.— Matt Lampson (@LampStrong) July 3, 2020
“For everyone in the “These are pro athletes. There is no risk. Nothing happens to them if they get the virus camp — I am high risk,” Lampson tweeted. “And I know for a fact there are multiple others at #MLSisBack that are as well — including other players on their way here. This is serious.”
Lampson was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in 2007. He learned of the disease as he was preparing to give blood during his senior year of high school. It was a grueling 471-day battled that took a toll on the goalkeeper, derailed his plans of playing collegiate soccer at Northern Illinois, and affected him and his family.
Because of his diagnosis and the severity in some cases of the coronavirus, Lampson is placed into a high-risk group. This means that he could suffer a far worse instance of the virus than some of his teammates, even if they are in shape and healthy.
Due to the location of the tournament and his past health issues, it’s easy to understand the goalkeeper’s apprehension. As of July 3, the state of Florida has experienced 175,718 positive cases of COVID-19, according to reports, with 36,620 of those coming in the 25-34 age group. The Sunshine State is quickly becoming an epicenter for the virus and with professional leagues like the NBA and WNBA making their way to Orlando later this month, the potential for exposure remains high.
The Crew arrived in Orlando last Sunday and trained throughout the week. The team was scheduled to play two 90-minute friendlies against Minnesota United this weekend ahead of the July 11 tournament-opening game against FC Cincinnati. But on Thursday, it was confirmed that one player — who has since been isolated — received consecutive positive tests for the coronavirus.