With the MLS season set to resume next week, the league says six FC Dallas players have tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando, Florida.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the MLS said two players tested positive immediately upon arrival at the host hotel, and the additional four tested positive within the last two days.

FC Dallas said every member of their traveling party tested negative before leaving for Florida on Saturday.

All six players were immediately moved to the isolation area of the hotel, and are in daily communication with and receive remote care from a healthcare provider.

The rest of the FC Dallas delegation is following MLS' health and safety protocols and quarantining in their hotel rooms pending the results of additional testing.

The league added that no other members of the MLS delegation have tested positive, and no other clubs have been in contact with Dallas' delegation.

On Sunday, MLS said 18 players and six club staff tested positive prior to traveling to Orlando.

The MLS, which has been suspended since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to resume on July 8 with the MLS is Back Tournament at the Disney World Resort.

FC Dallas open play in the group stage on July 9 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

An Atlanta United player has tested positive for coronavirus, the MLS club confirmed on Thursday.

The unnamed player was asymptomatic and returned the result following mandatory club testing.

Clubs are preparing for a return to action via the MLS is Back Tournament, which is scheduled to begin in Florida on July 8.

"In response to the positive test, Atlanta United medical staff have continued to work directly with local infectious disease specialists to treat the player, who was asymptomatic and has been observing isolation protocols since receiving the result," a club statement read.

Atlanta United won their opening two games before the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They are alongside Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew in Group E for the MLS is Back Tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo will "probably" play out the final years of his career in MLS, according to his former Manchester United and Portugal team-mate Nani.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has established himself as one of the sport's all-time greats, winning four of his five Champions League trophies during a nine-year spell with Real Madrid.

He left the Santiago Bernabeu as their all-time leading goalscorer and has surpassed 700 for club and country since moving to Juventus in 2018.

Although he is showing few signs of decline – as evidenced by his 21 goals in Serie A this term, equal to his tally in 2019-20 despite playing nine fewer matches – Ronaldo is now 35 years old.

Retirement does not appear to be imminent, however, with his Juve contract running for another two years, and he is seemingly planning on a spell in the United States before calling it a day.

"A couple of years ago, he told me that he will probably end up in America," Nani, who plays in MLS with Orlando City, told ESPN.

"It's not 100 per cent, but probably. There is a chance."

Nani is convinced by the quality of football in MLS, even if he does recognise there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"It is a great league," Nani said. "Obviously there are points where we must improve as a league, even in the quality of the players.

"[But] here you have fantastic clubs, well organised with fantastic conditions, great coaches, great players. You see every season improving.

"I think we all have the conditions in this league. We are in a great country, everything is around us. It is all about being better, not being afraid to improve."

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is the latest sports star to invest in a Major League Soccer team.

The 10-time NBA All-Star has acquired a five per cent ownership stake in Philadelphia Union, with an option to purchase an additional five per cent in the near future.

''I've always been a soccer fan and have wanted to get into it in a meaningful way. My team and I felt an instant connection with the Philadelphia Union ownership and staff and their vision for a partnership,'' Durant said in a statement on Monday.

''While you won't get to see me at games for now, my team and I will be taking an active role in the community, where I can help give back to Chester [Pennsylvania] and Philadelphia.''

Durant is the second former NBA MVP to invest in an MLS team, with the Houston Rockets' James Harden owning a stake in Houston Dynamo. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also owns a stake in Seattle Sounders.

The MLS season, which has been on pause since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to restart on July 8 with a 26-team tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.

The NBA season is also slated to resume at Disney World at the end of July.

Durant, however, has said he will not play when the season resumes as he continues his recovery from the Achilles tendon tear he sustained with the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

 

Thierry Henry has been grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with himself during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, with the Montreal Impact coach acknowledging his day-to-day responsibilities have taken their toll.

Arsenal and France icon Henry called time on his playing career in 2014 following a four-year spell in MLS with New York Red Bulls, but since then he has led a busy life.

After a near three-year stint as a television pundit in England, he began to focus on his coaching career and was initially assistant to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, before an ill-fated spell in charge of Monaco and then moving to Montreal.

Despite the situation caused across the world by coronavirus, Henry has looked on the positive side of being forced into lockdown, which allowed him to focus on his own well-being after a hectic few years that have afforded him few chances to consider his health.

"Taking care of myself is something you forget as a player or coach, you give your time to everyone," he told UEFA.

"I took some time for myself, if I can say in a selfish way, but it's important we all once again become human – the virus has reminded us what it is to be human, what it is to be together, respectful.

"Generally, since I stopped playing, I passed my badges straight away so I've been busy and then I worked on TV, but you know what – taking time for myself [is what he's been doing in lockdown].

"I didn't do that for a long time. People will say, 'that's not great,' and I know it's not, but for me it was priceless.

"You can have time with your own mind, your own body, your own thoughts and not always being responsible for others.

"As a coach no one cares what you think or how you are, they want to give the coach their problems and he needs to find solution – whether it's the press, fans, the board. As a leader that's how you need to be, sort stuff, look like the guy who isn't suffering and it takes its toll on you.

"So, for the first time I reconnected with my body and my mind."

 

The full interview with Henry can be found on UEFA's official YouTube channel.

Squad line-ups for the next Copa America could look vastly different by the time the tournament comes around following its postponement.

The newest edition of the competition was scheduled to start on Friday, but the coronavirus pandemic saw it pushed back by 12 months in March.

Some veteran players might now fade from the picture before the Copa America gets under way next year, while other stars will have time to recover from injury.

There could also be new faces on the scene, with a host of uncapped prospects given an extra campaign to break through.

With just under a year to go until the tournament starts, we take a look at five players who might emerge on the international scene before then.

GABRIEL MARTINELLI (BRAZIL)

Even beyond Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and co, Brazil have a wealth of attacking talent.

Matheus Cunha and Paulinho each starred at this year's CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and are already plying their trade in the Bundesliga, yet the nation's most outstanding prospect might reside in London.

Gabriel Martinelli is eligible for both Brazil and Italy, but the Selecao will surely move swiftly to cap-tie the forward, who has represented them at under-23 level. Indeed, he is one of just three teenagers to have reached 10 goals in all competitions across Europe's top five leagues this term, the other two being Erling Haaland (13 for Borussia Dortmund) and Mason Greenwood (12 for Manchester United).

Martinelli trained with Brazil last year aged 17 after starring for Ituano, and he has continued to impress in his first season at Arsenal – his solo goal against Chelsea in January a fine example of his talents, as he carried the ball 61.6 metres before scoring. Only Son Heung-min (71.4m) has travelled further with the ball in the build-up to netting in the Premier League this term.

 

Further progress in the coming weeks and next season would really give Tite something to think about.

 

CRISTIAN ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

Argentina have long had problems at centre-back, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi still a regular at international level. However, head coach Lionel Scaloni could soon have greater options to choose from, with younger talents now breaking through.

Nehuen Perez might well have gone to the 2020 Copa America, having been called up for the first time late last year after promising loan spells away from Atletico Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund's Leonardo Balerdi is also highly regarded.

But there's every chance Cristian Romero will leap ahead of both in the pecking order given his greater exposure to first-team football at a higher level, having earned a €26million move from Genoa to Juventus at the start of the season, before being loaned back.

It's not proven to be a straightforward season for Genoa, however. Although their form picked up before before the suspension, they will resume their season later this month just above the relegation zone.

Romero has played 21 of their 27 Serie A games - more than any of his defensive colleagues - and made 51 interceptions, a figure bettered by only Armando Izzo (58) among defenders in Italy's top flight.

Eight defenders have attempted more than his 40 tackles, but none of those above him have succeeded as often as him (68 per cent success). A difficult year it may have been, and reports suggest Juve could even sell him on again, but he has done relatively well despite the circumstances.

 

DIEGO ROSSI (URUGUAY)

Uruguay continue to rely on a number of their veterans of previous tournaments, but this will have to change in the coming months and years - especially in attack.

Although Luis Suarez remains a potent weapon, Edinson Cavani has shown signs of decline in the past year, while Cristhian Stuani is now playing in Spain's second tier. All three will be 34 years old by the time the tournament starts.

Diego Rossi should back himself to be in position to put pressure on that star trio. He left Penarol for Los Angeles FC aged 19 and has proven an instant hit in MLS, having a hand in 41 goals (12 assists, 29 goals) in 68 regular-season appearances – only three players have contributed more.

His ability to play effectively alongside another forward could also help his chances of breaking into the team – Rossi and Carlos Vela have created 84 chances for each other, the second-highest such figure in MLS since 2018, while in the same timeframe only Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez (18) have set up more goals for each other than the LAFC pair (16).

LAFC general manager John Thorrington has spoken of "significant interest" in Rossi from Europe, and such a move would give the forward a great chance of making the grade for Uruguay.

JORGE CARRASCAL (COLOMBIA)

Versatile River Plate attacking midfielder Jorge Carrascal will get fans off their seats if he manages to secure a place in the Colombia squad alongside club-mate Juan Quintero.

A tricky player, comfortable out wide or behind a striker, Carrascal debuted for Millonarios at just 16. He initially struggled after joining River Plate on loan from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv last year, but he has shown glimpses of immense promise and been capped by Colombia's Under-23s.

Representing his country at youth level for the first time since 2015, the 22-year-old scored in each of his first three games at the Pre-Olympic Tournament and started all seven matches.

For River, the former Sevilla youngster - whose time in Spain was curtailed by injuries - has scored four goals and set up another in 17 matches across all competitions.

Running at defenders is his best quality, however. A flamboyant player, Carrascal has averaged 4.9 successful take-ons per 90 minutes in the Superliga this term, succeeding 53 per cent of the time. Only one under-23 player tries his luck more often in this regard - he certainly likes to entertain.

Who knows, a few successive starts could be all that stands in Carrascal's way before an international call-up - then his future will surely lead him back for another crack at Europe.


REINIER (BRAZIL)

It might seem a long shot for a player who has yet to feature for Real Madrid's first team and started only twice at the Pre-Olympic Tournament to be playing for Brazil's senior side in just over a year's time.

But Reinier will have the benefit of 12 months in the limelight at one of the world's biggest clubs. After signing from Flamengo for €30m, Reinier netted a brace in just his third Castilla appearance - his final match before the coronavirus crisis intervened.

The pre-season will be key if the 18-year-old is to get a chance at Madrid in 2020-21, and there is no reason why he could not then do enough to catch Tite's eye.

During his brief time in professional football back in Brazil, Reinier made 14 Brasileiro appearances and had a hand in eight goals (six assists, two goals), one every 118 minutes on average.

By comparison, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were significantly less effective - they played a role in a goal every 239 minutes and 341 minutes, respectively, when they were in Brazil, yet both have enjoyed largely promising starts in Madrid.

Vinicius made the big-money move from Flamengo to Madrid in 2018 and had debuted for Brazil within 12 months of his LaLiga bow. The path is clear.

MLS will resume play at Disney World Resort in Orlando on July 8, and a pair of Florida teams have the honour of kicking off the tournament with Orlando City facing Inter Miami.

A day after the MLS is Back Tournament was announced, the league held a draw for the group stage on Thursday, placing the 26 teams into six groups.

Sixteen teams will then progress to the knockout stage, which will begin on July 25 ahead of an August 11 final.

Aside from the opening match, the rest of the tournament schedule has yet to be announced.

 

The groups for the MLS is Back Tournament:

Group A (Eastern Conference): Orlando City, Inter Miami, New York City, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Nashville SC.
Group B (Western Conference): Seattle Sounders, Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes.
Group C (Eastern Conference): Toronto, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, DC United.
Group D (Western Conference): Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United.
Group E (Eastern Conference): Atlanta United, FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew.
Group F (Western Conference): Los Angeles FC, LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers.

MLS will return from a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic with a new competition starting on July 8.

The MLS is Back Tournament will see the 2020 season – which has been suspended since March 12 – resume for all 26 teams and be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World Resort in Orlando, with 54 fixtures taking place over 26 matchdays.

Teams will be drawn into six groups – the Eastern Conference will have three pools, one with six teams and two with four, while the Western Conference will have three sections consisting of four clubs.

Sixteen teams will progress to the knockout stage, which will begin on July 25 ahead of an August 11 final.

Results in the group stage will count towards the regular season, which is planned to resume after the tournament finishes, while the winner of the competition will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.

It has also been confirmed each side will be able to use up to five substitutions per match during the MLS is Back Tournament, with teams able to name a matchday squad of 23 players.

In order to ensure the health and safety of players, coaching staff and club delegates, MLS confirmed all essential members of each travelling party will be tested for COVID-19 prior to flying to Orlando.

They will then be tested once more upon arrival, with additional testing then taking place every other day during the following two weeks.

Substitutes, coaches and officials on the bench or in the technical area will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing measures where possible, while players involved in the match must not exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.

Aleksandar Katai has left LA Galaxy by mutual consent following "racial and violent social media posts" made by his wife.

The Galaxy on Wednesday strongly condemned Tea Katai for her posts about Black Lives Matter protestors, who took to the streets in the United States and far beyond following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Serbia midfielder Katai's wife was asked to remove the Instagram posts immediately by the MLS franchise.

Katai, who only joined the Galaxy at the end of last year, stated that his wife's "unacceptable" posts would not be tolerated by his family.

The 29-year-old added that he took full responsibility for his wife's actions and was sorry for the pain caused to the "Galaxy family and all the allies in the fight against racism."

Katai will be in the market for a new club, though, as the Galaxy confirmed his departure in a brief one-line statement released on Friday.

Antoine Griezmann intends to finish his career in MLS but only after achieving his objective of winning LaLiga and the Champions League with Barcelona.

The France international joined Barca from Atletico Madrid in a big-money deal last year and has endured a mixed first campaign at Camp Nou, scoring eight goals in 26 league appearances.

Barca are top of LaLiga with 11 games to play and are tied at 1-1 after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli.

Griezmann, 29, has targeted success in both competitions, as well as helping his national side to retain the World Cup in 2022, before considering a switch to the United States.

"Winning LaLiga and the Champions League with Barca would be a dream, and also my objective," he told the Los Angeles Times. 

"There's also another World Cup in Qatar. And after that the MLS."

Griezmann has previously revealed that he would be open to linking up with David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise, but he is not ruling out a move to any MLS side.

"I don't know with which team, but I really want to play there," he said. 

"For me it's an objective to end my career in the United States with the possibility of playing well and being a big part of the team and fighting for a title."

Griezmann is back in training with Barcelona ahead of their return to LaLiga action on June 13, more than three months after the coronavirus pandemic brought the division to a halt.

MLS has cleared clubs to return to full training amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The MLS season was suspended in March due to COVID-19, with a team training moratorium put in place.

But that was lifted on Thursday, although teams must have plans for full team training approved by club medical staff and a local infectious disease expert before submitting them to MLS.

Players and staff will undergo regular testing and anyone testing positive will be isolated, while strict social-distancing and hygiene measures will be in place.

MLS players ratified a new collective bargaining agreement through until the 2025 season on Wednesday.

It is reported the season could resume with a tournament in Orlando starting as early as July.

More than 393,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, with the death toll in the United States exceeding 110,000.

A Dallas player has tested positive for coronavirus and the MLS club have suspended training.

The unnamed player becomes the second known case of COVID-19 in MLS after Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko tested positive in March.

MLS is planning for a return to full team training amid the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the season being suspended.

A club spokesperson said on Wednesday: "FC Dallas had a player who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

"The Dallas medical staff has been working directly with the COVID-19 task force to treat the player, who is observing appropriate isolation protocols and is feeling well.

"No other cases or symptoms within FC Dallas soccer operations, front office or Toyota Stadium staff have been identified at this time.

"All the proper social distancing protocols have been followed during our individual team training, but out of an abundance of caution, at this time training has been suspended until further notice."

More than 387,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, with the United States' death toll exceeding 109,000.

Dallas had collected four points from their opening two games before the season was stopped.

MLS players have finalised a plan to return to playing this season amid reports the 2020 campaign will become a tournament in Orlando.

The latest MLS season, which began in February, was halted after just two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The regular season had been scheduled to run until October, but much of the calendar has been wiped out by the suspension amid the global crisis.

However, the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) announced on Wednesday its members had come to an agreement on the remainder of the campaign.

In a statement announcing a new collective bargaining agreement, to run through 2025, the MLSPA said: "Today's vote also finalises a plan to resume the 2020 season and provides players with certainty for the months ahead.

"It allows our members to move forward and continue to compete in the game they love."

It has been reported MLS teams will compete in a televised tournament at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando in early July, replacing the standard season.

Clubs will reportedly first play a group stage and then knockout rounds, although MLS is yet to confirm the details of the league's resumption.

Asked last month about a return to the pitch, New England Revolution captain Carles Gil told Stats Perform News: "I don't mind where and when it is, but sooner is better. And especially in the safest way possible.

"If it has to be in Orlando, let it be in Orlando. And if we can restart the league as it has always been, it is even better. My opinion is to go on, safety granted, the best way possible."

Meanwhile, apparently referring to the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, the MLSPA's statement on Wednesday added: "There are problems we face collectively that are both more urgent and more important than competing on the field.

"We are grieving, we are fed up, we expect change, and we expect action."

Carles Gil was surprised by the standard of MLS upon joining New England Revolution and believes the league is not fairly rated in Europe.

Former Valencia, Aston Villa and Deportivo La Coruna forward Gil signed for the Revs in a club-record $2million transfer in January 2019.

Gil has followed in the footsteps of Sebastian Giovinco and Carlos Vela by moving stateside during the prime of his career and quickly impressing.

Indeed, Gil suggests the reputation of MLS as a retirement league - exacerbated by high-profile deals for Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo - is inaccurate.

"[MLS] has surprised me positively," he told Stats Perform News. "I believe we have a different view from Europe about what this league is.

"Probably we think it has a much lower level than it actually has, looking at players who come here to end their career. This is changing a lot and we will be aware of it as the years go on.

"I am very good. It is a different format with no relegations and playing playoffs, but it is a very attractive league to play in."

Gil contributed 10 goals and 14 goals in 2019, earning the New England captaincy, a place in the MLS Best XI and the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.

"Personally, it's been great," he said. "One of the reasons I came here was due to the confidence they showed in me.

"I wanted to get back to the level I couldn't show in previous years. Being honest, I have felt very comfortable since the beginning.

"I have performed well when I have been shown confidence, and I knew I was at the time that I needed that again. That's why I took the decision."

Gil is yet to feature in the 2020 campaign, which was suspended after just two matches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MLS is yet to confirm plans to return, although the MLS Players Association has reportedly approved a plan to resume the season in the form of a six-week tournament in Orlando.

Any opportunity to get on the pitch is welcomed by Gil, who added: "I don't mind where and when it is, but sooner is better. And especially in the safest way possible.

"If it has to be in Orlando, let it be in Orlando. And if we can restart the league as it has always been, it is even better. My opinion is to go on, safety granted, the best way possible."

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker said the state's five professional sports teams can re-open their practice facilities on June 6 as the Boston Celtics prepare to return on Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe, especially in the United States, where the NBA, MLS and NHL seasons have been postponed since March.

The start of the 2020 MLB campaign has also been delayed due to COVID-19, which has killed over 104,500 people in the USA.

But the Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and New England Revolution will be able to resume practicing next month, in compliance with the health and safety rules set in place by their respective leagues.

"The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again and I think we all hope opening practices will make that happen a little sooner," Baker said on Friday.

"For all of us, live sports and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again. It's not only a significant milestone for fans, but also a signal that we continue to do all the things we need to do."

NBA franchise the Celtics, meanwhile, will allow voluntary individual workouts at the Auerbach Center on Monday.

The NBA has been on hiatus since March, but the league is reportedly planning to restart the 2019-20 campaign on July 31.

"We're happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center, and we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.

The Celtics (43-21) were third in the Eastern Conference, behind NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks and defending champions the Toronto Raptors at the time of the postponement.

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