MN United

Adrian Heath on COVID, Game Cancellations and a Playoff Bubble

Photo credit: Bruce Kluckhohn (USA TODAY Sports)

In what was set to be their third meeting since the league restart began in the middle of August, Minnesota United FC’s match against FC Dallas on Sunday evening was postponed because two MNUFC players tested positive.

Major League Soccer sent out a statement Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. informing the public of the cancellation. In addition to the Loons match, the Columbus Crew and Orlando City contest that was also set to be played Sunday was cancelled due to two positive cases among the Crew staff. Earlier in the week, the league had announced the postponement of Saturday’s clash between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Colorado Rapids because a Colorado player tested positive. The Rapids have had four straight matches cancelled due to COVID. Since September 24, 12 Rapids staff members and 5 players have contracted the virus.

The full league-issued statement on the MNUFC match can be found here.

These two positive COVID-19 cases are the first reported for the Loons since defender Noah Billingsley had contracted the virus this past spring.

The postponement of the match comes at a time where the United States is seeing a surge of cases. According to NBCNews, the U.S. is averaging more than 45,000 new cases per day.

Nothing is normal about this “new normal,” and it comes during a time where people are scared, uncomfortable and nervous. The coronavirus has unfortunately taken the lives of over 210,000 Americans over the last eight months; it’s okay to feel that way. In a video conference last Friday, I asked Loons head coach Adrian Heath about the MLS’s COVID-19 policy, and if he feels comfortable with the current league policies. Heath elaborated, saying that he was satisfied and felt safe. But more than anything, he wants people to really start taking the virus more seriously.

“I think a big one for me and this is, this is something that we all have to take seriously,” he said. “The bubble obviously works, you look at where you are and we’re down now, you look at what’s going on with the NBA. But the minute that you leave that environment it’s incredibly difficult, you know players have children who go to school, we have to go to the shop, we have to, you know, you have to go about your daily life as best you can. You know we we’ve done an a really good job, and all the sports have within reason, but it’s a bit. This is a difficult situation to deal with. We know that. And, you know, as we’ve said all along it this is going to be a real testing time for everybody.”

The league statement said that the Loons game against FC Dallas will be rescheduled to “a later date,” but when looking at both schedules, finding a solution looks difficult. When one team is without a mid-week match, the other has one. The only feasible solution for both teams appears to be a four-matchweek schedule, or playing back-to-back matches following what was set to be their fourth meeting of 2020 on Nov. 8th.

I asked Heath on whether or not he would be open to moving to another “bubble” for the playoffs come November/December.

“Alright, so no you know we spoke about it when we were down at Disney, and at the time, you know, we thought ‘Do we think it could happen again.’ I think the overwhelming thought was it could at some stage. Obviously, you know it’s not ideal, we know that I mean, having been through it once, but if it meant getting the games finished and getting the playoffs done on time and everybody being playing when they should be. If that’s the way it’s got to be them, maybe, you know that’s something that they will consider. But I think I speak for everybody we would all like it to go as is, as normal where the team’s finished with higher seeds having home field advantage I think it’s only fair.”

Regardless, both the club and the general public await news on when or if the match will be played due to the congested schedule the league has right now. Minnesota United players and staff are away from each other and quarantining while contact tracing is underway.

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Photo credit: Bruce Kluckhohn (USA TODAY Sports)

Minnesota United FC dispatched FC Dallas 3-2 on Wednesday night with a performance that was much more commanding than the scoreline would suggest. United was in control […]

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