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Nashville withdrawn from MLS restart over virus cases: league

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Nashville have become the second team to withdraw from Major League Soccer's restart competition after confirmation four more players had tested positive for COVID-19, the league said Thursday.

An MLS statement said the expansion team had been withdrawn from the "MLS is Back" tournament in Orlando, Florida, after the coronavirus cases left them unable to train.

A total of nine Nashville players had tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando for the event.

On Monday, FC Dallas were pulled from what had been a 26-team tournament after 11 members of the franchise tested positive for the virus.

"We have withdrawn Nashville SC from the MLS is Back Tournament," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

"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.

"For every decision we make in our return to play, the well-being of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority."

A Nashville statement said one player had tested positive shortly after the team had arrived at its hotel in Florida, while eight more players tested positive within a few days of arrival.

"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," Nashville chief executive Ian Ayre said.

"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."

The MLS has relaunched its season following a four-month coronavirus shutdown with a World Cup-style tournament, with teams sequestered in a bubble at Disney World in Orlando.

Tournament organizers have now tweaked the format of the competition following the withdrawal of Dallas and Nashville, dividing teams into six groups of four.

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