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Vancouver Whitecaps return to the pitch delayed after 8 players test positive for COVID-19

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Yordi Reyna kicks the ball away from Montreal Impact defender Jukka Raitala during first half MLS action in Montreal on Wednesday,.
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Yordi Reyna kicks the ball away from Montreal Impact defender Jukka Raitala during first half MLS action in Montreal on Wednesday,. Aug. 28, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The MLS is Back Tournament match between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps set for Thursday has been postponed after eight players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group-stage game will be rescheduled, the league said Saturday.

FC Dallas announced earlier this week that six players had tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Florida for the tournament. The entire team was quarantined.

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Two Whitecaps players tested positive, forcing the team to remain in Canada, the league said.

Additional tests were negative, but the team had to push back travel until Monday. The MLS is Back Tournament is set to open on Wednesday with a match between Orlando City and expansion Inter Miami.

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Vancouver Whitecaps resume individual training
Vancouver Whitecaps resume individual training

The league’s 26 teams will be sequestered in hotels for the duration of the monthlong tournament played without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

Read more: Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper honing skills back home in Saskatchewan

MLS shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 after teams had each played two games.

FC Dallas said all players and staff tested negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the tournament on last Saturday.

Whitecaps fine striker Yordy Reyna for violating physical distancing rules
Whitecaps fine striker Yordy Reyna for violating physical distancing rules

Upon arrival, two players tested positive. Subsequent tests found four more players infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

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“In consultation with MLS medical officials, FC Dallas took proactive steps to isolate the newly affected players as well as all FC Dallas players and staff in Orlando out of an abundance of
caution. All members of the club delegation are following MLS health and safety protocols and will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further COVID-19 testing,” the team said in a statement.

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The names of the players were not released. The league said no other team was in contact with the FC Dallas delegation.

League protocol requires players and staff to be tested every two days upon arrival in Florida.

FC Dallas will now open the tournament on July 15 against the Seattle Sounders, while the Whitecaps will play the San Jose Earthquakes later that day.