The Philadelphia Union are scheduled to play a game in 17 days, on July 9th down in Disney World as part of the ‘MLS is Back’ tournament.
Similar to the NBA, they’ll be in a not-entirely-hermetically-sealed bubble, with strict rules guiding health and safety. With the Sixers staying at the Grand Floridian near Magic Kingdom, the Union will be at the Swan and Dolphin resort near Epcot and Hollywood Studios, about five miles down the road.
Problem is, COVID cases are spiking in Florida right now, which is making some people nervous. Sam Stejskal at The Athletic has a story out today with some details of how the teams will get down there and operate once inside the bubble:
MLS teams are scheduled to move into the league’s “bubble” at the Swan and Dolphin Resort beginning this Wednesday, when, per sources, the San Jose Earthquakes will be the first team to arrive. Orlando City, one source said, will join them in the bubble on Thursday. Other clubs will continue trickling in over a period of around 10 days before the scheduled start of the MLS Is Back tournament on July 8th. All teams must move into the bubble at least one full week prior to their first game in Orlando.
Orange and Osceola Counties, where the Swan and Dolphin Resort and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex are located, respectively, combined for 237 new cases on Sunday. They combined for 486 new cases on Saturday, more than the number of new cases reported that day in both Spain and Italy, countries once considered global epicenters of the pandemic.
A source said that the league will also have security on hand at the resort to ensure that no unauthorized people gain entry to the MLS campus. Teams will also arrive in Florida via chartered flights that will land at an executive airport in the area, not at Orlando’s main commercial airport.
The flight routine is key for me. Keep teams and staffers away from the general public and get them safely into Disney World.
The problem, as Sam mentions in his piece, is that the hotel workers will be coming and going and aren’t confined to the bubble like the players, which is going to be a similar issue with the NBA. Hypothetically, if everybody is abiding by the 100+ page rulebook that MLS and the NBA have come up with, we should be alright, but Florida’s lack of diligence regarding COVID doesn’t really help the situation.
We’ll see. The Union haven’t said anything official about when they’re leaving, but it looks like they’re packing up in preparation for the trip:
Last @PhilaUnion season after we opened across from their facilities, the coaching staff would come in for happy hour on Friday’s to relax before Saturday matches. This is our beer loading into their storage container headed to Orlando for the @MLS tourney so they can drink local pic.twitter.com/X2rtZMb5WP
— The Larimer Beer Co (@thelarimer) June 22, 2020