New York City FC: Players’ Florida concerns justified

New York City FC, Alex Ring (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
New York City FC, Alex Ring (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

With the MLS is Back tournament about a week away, New York City FC players have concerns about Florida. Such concerns are valid.

Initially, New York City and the tri-state area were the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. New York City FC players know the cruelty of the virus and the hardships that New Yorkers have faced over the last few months. Fortunately, new case numbers have declined or remained steady over the last few weeks. The state has made it through the worst of this wave, and for now, New York is on the right track.

Since given approval, NYCFC are practicing at their training complex. Players can finally do what they love and the Pigeons can prepare for the MLS is Back tournament. They want to play again, but unfortunately, unlike many Europeans countries, the United States is trending in the wrong direction.

The country continues to increase in cases each day and the CDC shows the curve as rising rather than decreasing. Leagues in Europe restarted when cases were at a low in their respective countries. Hence, in the United States, sports cannot compare and use Europe to show few cases among teams. Truthfully, no one truly knows what will happen with the resumption of team sports.

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Meanwhile, some states are increasing at a dramatically high rate, including Florida, where MLS will host the MLS is Back Tournament. The sunshine state has been increasing by the thousands each day. As of June 30, there have been over 152,000 confirmed cases. Plus, the positivity rate of those tested continues to increase daily. The state has yet to get the virus under control, and the rate of spread is high.

Teams will remain isolated at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which is just outside Orlando, and the league is taking mostly the right precautions to keep everyone safe. However, with Florida’s rising coronavirus cases, some players are concerned. While Orange County is not the worst hit, there are still over 10,000 positives as of June 29.

New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson expressed the following regarding the rising numbers to AMNY:

"“I think it’s definitely something that’s alarming. We’ll keep an eye on it in the next week to see how things continue to progress along, but I definitely would say it’s a cause for concern for the players, staff, and anyone who will be down there.”"

He is not the only player that is concerned. According to Ryan Gerbosi at Newsday, Maxi Moralez is ‘not keen on making the trip and there is some nervousness ahead of the journey’. He thinks of his family and understands the virus can be quite harmful. He ‘will be traveling with the club and intends to compete,’ but his reluctance is evident and he wanted fans to know how he feels.

According to Gerbosi, captain Alex Ring’s wife is high risk for COVID-19 too so he has to be extremely careful and follow safety protocols to keep his own family safe. And like his fellow players, the rising cases in Florida is concerning:

"“I mean the numbers are soaring, what I’ve been following from Florida, so of course you have concern, not only for yourself but everyone who’s giving up a lot going there. I think that’s the most important thing and should be over everything. Everyone wants to get back, everyone’s stoked to play but it shouldn’t be on behalf of your health or safety for sure. The state that Florida is in, I think it has to be safe for us. I mean, we’re putting a lot on the line, we have families and whatnot.”"

Ring’s thoughts are valid and the health and safety of everyone involved is the most vital aspect of this tournament. Cases continue to rise. They show no sign of stopping. Whereas a few months ago, the idea of having players go to Florida seemed to be an intelligent idea, the surge in the state makes the destination for the tournament seem irresponsible and unwise, despite the fact they will be in a tournament bubble. New York City FC players now have to leave a former hot spot state for another, which seems irresponsible.

At this time, while many fans crave live sports, and MLS fans want to see their clubs play, questions should be asked. Unlike Europe, the risk of spread is too high and leagues can only do so much with protecting players and staff.

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So New York City FC players have the right to be concerned.  They know the threat. They have seen the horrors of the virus. While the Pigeons are still ready to compete, despite the risk, who knows at this point whether they will play. Fans can only hope that everyone at the tournament remains healthy and it is a success, but the questions mount and they are increasingly valid.