A photo from Nashville SC upon arrival in Orlando. The team later was pulled out of the MLS is Back tournament.

2020 was MLS expansion club’s Nashville SC’s debut season, but that campaign so far hasn’t gone as planned. They played one match (on February 29, where they lost 2-1 to Atlanta United) before the March 12 suspension of the MLS season. And while they traveled to Orlando (an arrival photo is seen above) and were set to take part in the MLS is Back tournament, their start was postponed following several positive COVID-19 tests (five confirmed by the club, four more reported by The Athletic). On Thursday, the date that their first match of the tournament was supposed to take place, Nashville SC was officially pulled from the tournament. And while they still could wind up playing in the latter half of the MLS season, which is currently set to take place at clubs’ home stadiums, there are big questions about if that will actually happen. So this might wind up ending their 2020 season overall.

Paul Tenorio, Jeff Rueter and Pablo Maurer of The Athletic broke the news of Nashville SC’s exit from the MLS is Back tournament Thursday morning, and MLS later confirmed it. Here’s more from the MLS statement:

Since arriving in Orlando, nine players on Nashville have had confirmed positive test results for COVID-19. The decision was made in the best interest of the health of all players and staff participating in the tournament, and in line with protocols created in conjunction with local and national health authorities and infectious disease experts, the league said.

“We have withdrawn Nashville SC from the MLS is Back Tournament.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.”

As per the team’s statement, one player tested positive on arrival at the hotel, and eight more tested positive shortly thereafter. Players and staff were then tested daily, and “it was determined that the club would not be medically cleared to get sufficient training before their next match.” Here’s more from that statement:

“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,” Nashville CEO Ian Ayre said in a statement issued by the club.

“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.”

This is obviously a tough break for Nashville SC and for their fans. We’ll see if they are able to resume play in the planned post-Orlando part of the MLS season, or if their 2020 campaign winds up being just the one match.

[The Athletic; photo from NashvilleSC.com]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.