While headlines and social media have been abuzz with news about positive tests and complaints about accommodations in Orlando, there wasn’t any news about either coming from Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin’s first press conference since the team arrived for the MLS is Back Tournament.
“All of our players and staff are clear to start training; we’ve been tested twice already and those tests have come back in a good way,” Curtin said in a video conference with media on Friday afternoon.
Curtin said the full first team roster — minus on loan striker Cory Burke, who won’t be available for the competition despite St. Polten’s season ending this weekend — made the charter flight to Orlando after a 75-minute inter-squad scrimmage in Chester on Wednesday and were expected to all be in the training session on Friday.
While the start of the tournament is now days away — Orlando City and Inter Miami kick things off Wednesday night — the arrival of more teams has brought with it concerns of additional positive tests and how that might impact the schedule. FC Dallas has been the hardest hit with nine players testing positive for Covid-19 since arriving.
“There are still uncertainties in the unknown but what I do know is that as you walk around this bubble every precaution is being taken,” Curtin said. “From the meals to the testing to the sanitation with hand sanitizers in the hallways; I haven’t laid eyes on another team. The only people that I’ve seen are from the Philadelphia Union and we’ve been here for nearly 24 hours now.”
As teams have trickled into Orlando since the San Jose Earthquakes were the first to arrive on June 24, there have been some complaints coming out about the accommodations at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort where players and staff are staying. The Twitter account @MLSCovidCup has documented some of them, like overpriced boxed lunches and malfunctioning showers.
“Just like any other work environment, I think we all can go into it and be negative about every little detail of it but this is new for everybody,” Curtin said, noting that he wanted to see his players focused on the task at hand and the work ahead beginning next Thursday morning with a game against NYCFC.
“New York City for me is the best team in our conference,” he said.