With the MLS regular season back and taking place in home stadiums, the concerns of players contracting COVID-19 outside of a bubble — like the MLS is Back Tournament was played in — increase. The first positive COVID-19 test since the regular season restart came on Friday when a member of the Chicago Fire tested positive.
Because the Fire traveled to play Columbus Crew SC on Thursday, there is cause for concern that someone could potentially have gotten the virus. Crew head coach Caleb Porter was asked about whether he had knowledge of the positive test before Thursday’s game and responded, “No. I just learned about that yesterday,” when speaking to the media on Saturday afternoon.
According to the Fire’s team site, no one else in the organization has tested positive or exhibited any symptoms after two tests. The Chicago player who did receive the positive test immediately self-isolated when he found out and did not travel with the team to Columbus for Thursday’s game.
Under MLS rules, a person is only considered COVID positive when he has received two consecutive positive test results. Every club member is given a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test every other day but now due to the positive test, every first-team player and staff member will be tested daily.
Porter said he is not concerned about the virus spreading to his team because “there is a protocol that the league follows. Obviously we are tested every other day. So obviously if he (the Fire player) had a positive on that last day, then he was negative before he had a positive which meant he didn’t travel.”
The Crew players and staff were all tested for COVID-19 on Friday and, according to Porter, everyone was negative.
“And as long as we get those negative tests, we have nothing to worry about,” the head coach said.
Despite yesterday’s negative test results for the Crew and Fire, it is not a guarantee yet that no one else has been infected. The CDC writes that all a negative test result means is you don’t have COVID-19 at the time of testing and doesn’t guarantee you aren’t infected. As Porter said, the Crew must continue to receive negative tests.
Columbus previously had a player test positive shortly after the team arrived in Florida for the MLS is Back Tournament and no other individuals with the Black & Gold had consecutive positive tests. The team has also been required to take protocol in regards to new signings arriving with the team.
New center back Grant Lillard was acquired from Inter Miami early last week and, because he took a commercial flight from Florida, Lillard had to quarantine for 14 days before joining the team. Florida is currently listed in Ohio’s travel advisory guideline because the state has a positive testing rate of higher than 15 percent. Anyone traveling into Ohio from any state with that positivity rate must quarantine for 14 days.
The Crew travels to Harrison, New Jersey on Monday to play New York City FC and, based on the current testing schedule, the club’s personnel will be tested again on Sunday and Monday. The Fire’s Tuesday game at home against FC Cincinnati is scheduled to go on as planned.
This is an ongoing story and Massive Report will follow and update on this story with any new developments.