Friday's soccer news starts with reports that Inter Miami is without its star players for tonight's play-in game at Nashville. The Miami Herald's Michelle Kaufman updated earlier stories that five Inter players tested positive for the coronavirus, reporting that Federico Higuain, Gonzalo Higuain, and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez are part of that group. That leaves Inter Miami and MLS facing a playoff game missing its best player and down a defender who has contributed at both ends of the field this season. It also raises what's now a familiar issue for Major League Soccer itself.
MLS has made it clear that the team that can't play due to coronavirus positives is the one who forfeits if it proves impossible to reschedule the game. What isn't clear is whether or not the league will allow Miami to play with its current healthy squad. The league has yet to clarify its position, but regardless this won't be a first choice version of Inter Miami in a season-defining game. It's also not likely that a postponement will mean enough time to get its full squad back on the field.
Not that Nashville needed any more pressure, but they're now in a scenario where the team they prepared to play is weaker. If they can't take full advantage of that situation, it recasts their own debut season.
In this strange year for MLS, the expansion playoff derby now turns into something else entirely. We could feign surprise that this is happening, but the reality of the current situation is a lack of expectations.
LAFC is now down a fourth player for the same reason. The LA Times' Kevin Baxter reports that Brian Rodriguez joins Diego Rossi, Jose Cifuentes, and defender Diego Palacios in testing positive while with their national teams. With none of them able to return to the United States, it seems unlikely that a postponement of Tuesday's game at Seattle would help LAFC.
That makes this more than just a problem for tonight's Eastern Conference play-in round. It's an issue for both conferences and a competitive imbalance the league has no choice but to address. Without the room on the schedule for another Colorado scenario of postponements, MLS once again has to push forward one way or another.
Also in the soccer news, newly minted USMNT player Sebastian Soto subbed out in the 80th minute of Telstar's 2-0 win over Dordrecht in the Eerste Divisie. Glynor Plet scored in the 59th and 61st minutes with Jasper Schendelaar making two saves in the shutout. Telstar is in 8th-place in a noticeably unbalanced table.
Borussia Dortmund announced a contract extension for USMNT midfielder Gio Reyna through the 2024-25 season. "BVB are a big club that can challenge for titles and are in all the important competitions. Young players in particular have the chance to develop here," Reyna said in a club statement. "I have already learned a lot in Dortmund and I want to learn a lot more in future. I look forward to being with BVB in the long term."
The Athletic's Sam Stjeskal with how the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC handled temporarily relocating to the United States. The Denver Post's Jake Shapiro explains how the Rapids figured out set pieces. The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta on Seattle's CenturyLink Field becoming Lumen Field. BBC Sport looks at the table and asks a pertinent question about Premier League hegemony.
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