Preview — MLS is coming back this month. After many months of waiting at home and watching videos of teams in training, fans will finally be able to watch their favorite teams in action — on the television.
Fans are not allowed in attendance, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, MLS is the second professional league in the United States to return. They’ll look toward the NWSL, which kicked off its tournament on June 27, on how to run a successful tournament.
However, MLS is having issues before the tournament even kicks off. Players and staff from clubs like Columbus, FC Dallas and Atlanta United, to name a few, have tested positive for COVID-19. MLS announced that the tournament will still continue, being held in Orlando, Florida.
Group B will consist of FC Dallas, the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes and reigning champions, Seattle Sounders. Many are calling groups easy or the death groups. However, Group B has plenty of question marks around it.
FC Dallas: Will Dallas even compete?
One word: Yikes.
FC Dallas is a young, talented team. However, that young and talented group has positive tests coming rapidly. At last count, 10 people in the FC Dallas club have tested positive, with nine being players. According to The Athletic and ESPN, FC Dallas and MLS did not comment on the positive number of tests growing. There is also no indication of who tested positive. Those players, for obvious reasons, would not be allowed to compete.
But, FC Dallas should follow along with the Orlando Pride of the NWSL. When positive tests hit the NWSL club, the Pride dropped out of the NWSL Challenge Cup. Now, FC Dallas should follow suit.
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) July 1, 2020
San Jose Earthquakes: A hidden gem?
Matías Almeyda is entering his second full season as the San Jose Earthquakes coach. There was growth last year, with the team pushing for a playoff spot. It was tremendous growth after spending the 2018 season in last place. The play of Jackson Yueill was so good that it got him on the U.S. men’s national team radar.
San Jose is a team that could be a diamond in the rough. They have a tough slew of games, especially against Seattle. But, they could make a strong push for that second place spot. Keep an eye out for Cristian Espinoza, the Designated Player, who will make his debut in Florida.
Seattle Sounders: Will the reigning champions win it all?
The Seattle Sounders have bragging rights in this tournament.
That’s what happens when you win the 2019 MLS Cup. Seattle had some major roster turnover after the championship, especially on defense. Kim Kee-hee and Román Torres are gone, and Brad Smith returned to England after his loan was finished. Kelvin Leerdam is the only returning defender for the championship XI.
João Paulo is the newest addition in the midfield, and his first two matches were fruitful for the Sounders. But, will the defense hold up?
Vancouver Whitecaps: Will new additions be enough?
Vancouver is another team that had major roster turnover this season. The club spent a nice chunk of change to receive Lucas Cavallini from Club Puebla. The forward scored 16 goals in 50 matches in Mexico for Puebla.
The team also spent an undisclosed amount of TAM on Érik Godoy to help improve the defense. Godoy is a young defender who spent the 2019 season with the Whitecaps, earning 30 appearances in the process. Another addition to the defense is Bryan Meredith, who was on the Sounders team last year. He’ll contend with Maxime Crépeau for time in between the sticks.
Last Words on Group B
San Jose could certainly provide a spark and do some real damage to FC Dallas and the Whitecaps. However, it’s tough to contend against the Sounders, who hardly saw any change on offense. Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris are still menaces on offense.
FC Dallas is still a huge question mark, with the COVID-19 tests coming into play. The tournament is still set, but if FC Dallas pulls out, that could mean some last minute reshuffling.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) July 2, 2020