Luchi Gonzalez is eyeing a steady build up to the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. The tournament will see Major League Soccer become the first American men’s team sport to return to action following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gonzalez has dealt with the challenge of the novel Coronavirus hitting close to home with a member of the first team testing positive for the virus. The player in question is recovering and showing no symptoms in isolation, and could still participate in Florida.
MLS protocols will include a pathogen test to determine who has already had the virus. Players would still be allowed to travel and compete providing they show no symptoms and can return two negative results on the Polymerase Chain Reaction nasal swab.
The group is currently in the second phase of MLS’ training protocols with small group activities that involve social distancing. The league has allowed teams to return to full group practice pending league approval. Gonzalez confirmed that FC Dallas hoped to return to full team training next week.
One player that FC Dallas will likely have to contend is goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, who is serving a league suspension as well as an assessment by Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health doctors.
“I know he’s well,” said the FC Dallas Head Coach. “I know he’s been very cooperative and forthcoming, and in communication with people that are trying to learn more. So [we’re] just waiting to learn more and get more information so that we understand the league’s perspective and standpoint, and then the club can have its own.”
Another player whose tournament status is up in the air is Franco Jara. The former Monterrey striker is Frisco and has shared Instagram stories from both his hotel at The Star, and the first team practice field at Toyota Soccer Center.
The problem Jara and FC Dallas have is the MLS transfer window. The summer window was due to open on July 7, a day before the MLS is Back Tournament begins. This was paused by MLS with no timeline given. We have reached out to both FC Dallas and Major League Soccer for clarification on the secondary transfer window.
“He is doing some work independently,” said Gonzalez. “Not with the team or groups. We have to respect a certain moment, and then he will integrate hopefully soon.”
Scrimmages and friendlies are key to any preseason, and MLS’ restart is no different. Luchi confirmed a plan to hold intra-squad scrimmages before securing friendlies in Orlando ahead of the tournament. MLS protocol prevents FC Dallas from playing any outside teams before traveling to Florida..
“We are planning some friendlies for the moment we get to Orlando,” said Gonzalez. “I know the league is also help coordinate and support that.”