New York City FC’s arrival in Florida for the upcoming MLS is Back tournament has been pushed back to Thursday, the club announced Saturday morning.
NYCFC was expected to fly Saturday afternoon to Orlando before entering the bubble environment being created at Disney World.
“Due to recent changes to New York State guidelines which now permit professional sports teams to train in New York, and in consultation with MLS, the Club has decided to remain in market to continue full team training at Etihad City Football Academy and will now travel to Orlando on July 2,” the club said in a news release.
NYCFC still intends to participate in the MLS is Back Tournament, a club spokesman said. The decision was made to give players a more comfortable training environment at its Orangeburg facility in the lead up to the competition, and no new issues involving COVID-19 have been found within the club.
Major League Soccer is requiring teams to spend a full seven days in the Orlando bubble before competing against other clubs, so a Thursday arrival allows NYCFC to compete in its Group A opener against Philadelphia on July 9. Because of that policy, NYCFC no longer will participate in a previously scheduled warm-up friendly against FC Dallas on July 4, the spokesman said.
The decision to move travel dates comes as the coronavirus crisis in Florida continues to grow. The state recorded a record of nearly 9,000 cases on Friday, including 1,062 in Orange County, where Orlando is located. A few NYCFC players expressed their concerns with the crisis earlier this week, but all were committed to joining their teammates on the field.