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Nashville become second team to drop out of MLS tournament due to coronavirus concerns

9:03 PM GMT+4 09/07/2020
Nashville composite
The expansion side joined FC Dallas in withdrawing from the competition following a number of positive tests

Nashville SC has become the latest team to be forced out of the MLS is Back tournament as the expansion club has withdrawn due to a series of nine positive coronavirus tests.

MLS announced the decision on Thursday, the day after Nashville were set to take on the Chicago Fire in the club's opening match of the competition, with that game originally postponed as a result of a series of positive tests for Covid-19.

“We have withdrawn Nashville SC from the MLS is Back Tournament. Due to the number of positive tests, the club has been unable to train since arriving in Orlando and would not be able to play matches,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.

“For every decision we make in our return to play, the wellbeing of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority.”

Added Nashville CEO Ian Ayre: “In what has been a challenging year, and in an uncharted environment created by the Tornado that devastated our city and COVID-19, this is another big disappointing outcome for Nashville SC and its supporters,Our focus now lays on the recovery of our players who have been infected with COVID-19 and on getting our complete traveling party back home safely.

"Once everyone is safe and healthy in Nashville, we can then turn the page and focus on our preparation and participation in the return to play for the latter half of the season post-Orlando.”

FC Dallas announced on Monday that the club would withdraw from the competition after the club had produced 11 positive tests for coronavirus.

With the departures of Dallas and Nashville, the MLS is Back tournament currently features 24 teams spread across six groups now featuring an even four teams.

Group A had initially featured six participants to account for the number of teams, with each other group featuring four.

However, with the departure of FC Dallas, Group B dropped to three teams while, with Nashville's withdrawal, Group A featured five.

MLS confirmed on Thursday that Chicago Fire have moved from Group A to Group B to provide balance, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps.

The MLS is Back tournament kicked off on Wednesday, beginning a month-long competition featuring a group and knockout stage. As a result, it became the first men's professional sports league to return to play in the U.S., following the NWSL which began in June.

The tournament opened with a 2-1 win for Orlando City, who took down newfound rivals Inter Miami in the first-ever meeting between the two Florida clubs.

On Thursday, the tournament continued with the Philadelphia Union picking up a 1-0 win over New York City FC. Next up is a match between the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution on Thursday night.