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Life Without Soccer: News and Updates for Friday, March 20

MLS extends suspension, NYCFC staffer tests positive for coronavirus and Midge Purce has a message for millennials

FC Dallas and USMNT fullback Reggie Cannon's hopes of a summer transfer might have been derailed due to coronavirus. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Every day MLS, the NWSL and the USL are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pro Soccer USA will provide the latest news and updates, examples of what the soccer community is doing to pass time and some recommendations for readers to keep busy while hunkering down at home.

The Latest

In accordance with the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended mass gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed for eight weeks, Major League Soccer extended the suspension of its season.

MLS, which initially suspended the season for 30 days, has a new target return date of May 10.

In a statement Thursday, the league said it is still committed to playing a full 34-game season and is examining the possibility of MLS Cup being played in December.

“MLS remains focused on playing the entire 2020 season and is evaluating all options, including pushing back the end of the season and playing MLS Cup in December, as the league did prior to the 2019 season,” the statement read. “The league is also identifying other available dates. Throughout the process, MLS will continue to prioritize the safety of our fans, players, employees and partners and to coordinate with federal and local public health authorities as well as other sporting organizations.”

The announcement comes a day after the USL Championship and League One was postponed through at least May 10.

Concacaf, which had already postponed the Champions League and the Men’s Olympic Qualifiers for 30 days, has also delayed the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship from April 18 to May 3 in Toluca, Mexico.

The confederation also moved the Concacaf Futsal Championship in Guatemala from May 1 to May 10.

“Both competitions require significant international travel for a number of our member associations and their teams and we have made this decision with their welfare in mind,” Concacaf said in a statement.

New York City FC became the second MLS team to have a staff member test positive for coronavirus. A member of the club’s sporting department is feeling well after displaying mild symptoms and is observing appropriate isolation protocols, according to a club statement.

“I would like to sincerely thank all those who have offered the club medical advice and support throughout this process. As a club, we are closely following all advice and taking all possible preventative measures,” NYCFC CEO Brad Sims said. “Thankfully, I am pleased to say that the individual affected is at home and is feeling better after only a short illness.”

Because NYCFC played Tigres UANL in a Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal game at Red Bull Arena, the New York Red Bulls consulted club medical officials since some staff members worked the game.

“In consultation with club medical officials, it has been determined that our staff working the match were at low risk for exposure, given the limited interaction with NYCFC personnel and the time between the match and beginning of symptoms,” the statement read. “We will continue to monitor and take all necessary precautions.”

A 34-year-old LAFC season ticket-holder died Thursday morning after a battle with pneumonia caused by COVID-19. Jeffrey Ghazarian was a Los Angeles FC season ticket-holder,  the club confirmed Thursday.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of LAFC Member Jeff Ghazarian,” LAFC said in a post with a photo of him at a fan event. “Our thoughts are with his family and all those affected during this difficult time.”

Ghazarian reportedly developed a cough after a visit to Disney World and Universal Studios, and was hospitalized when he developed a high fever. He tested positive for COVID-19 and scans showed his lungs were as much as 70% blocked by pneumonia. Both theme parks have since temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus.

Although most soccer professionals in North America have acted responsibility, heeding warnings about mass gatherings and social distancing, not all millennials have gotten the message, apparently.

Bars and beaches during spring break in Florida remain crowded despite the worldwide pandemic. Sky Blue FC and USWNT midfielder Midge Purce, a 24-year-old Harvard graduate doesn’t understand and took to Twitter to pen what she called “a message to my generation.”

FC Dallas outside back Reggie Cannon was hoping for a transfer in the summer transfer window, but the 21-year-old, who has emerged as a USMNT regular, believes the coronavirus pandemic may sidetrack those plans.

“Yeah, it’s obviously a concern,” Cannon told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Being transparent, I want to be present in my situation and give Dallas my 100 percent for however long I’m here. But the goal was to be transferred in the summer, and obviously teams are in a scramble right now because it’s a tough time for transfers at the moment. Now the most important thing is safety and health.”

Meanwhile at Colorado, Pro Soccer USA’s Marco Cummings reports Rapids coach Robin Fraser said the league’s suspension hasn’t halted a battle for the club’s No. 1 goalkeeping job between Clint Irwin and William Yarbrough, who joined the club on loan earlier this month.

“I think right now Clint has been good and solid and offers the maturity, composure and obviously good goalkeeping ability. He has been the number one to this point,” Fraser said. “I do think bringing in Will just opens up the competition.”

The Canadian MLS teams offered TSN a glimpse into what it’s been like at their clubs during the suspension of play.

In Montreal, Impact president and CEO Kevin Gilmore said its important for his club to set an example for the Impact fans.

“We know that we have an influence on people,” he said. “Fans have a passionate and emotional connection with teams and clubs and leagues and players, and if we can use that connection to send a message to stay home and follow the precautions and guidelines of the public health authorities — if we can do that — we will do our best to pass that message along.”

Toronto FC president Bill Manning said although there’s a pause in games and a training moratorium that extends through Friday, it doesn’t mean the players aren’t staying fit and as sharp as possible.

“We’re trying to stay in steady communication,” Manning said. “We set up home workout programs for all our players, we’re actually looking into having our chef prepare meals that we can deliver to our players. Every day, every other day [we send] an email just making sure they’re aware of what’s going on and anything new that’s coming from the league. And just trying to make sure the guys take every precautionary measure they can, they stay at home and are safe and doing their part to make sure that we don’t spread this.”

In Vancouver, Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster said the business of soccer still continues and his “phone’s not stopping” with his vast European connections.

“You have to be creative,” he said. “Now is not the time to discuss in the wrong way, everybody has to be open to give up on some things and I think that shows now. And that’s a good thing, that football is united all over the world, that anybody is open to help everybody and to find the right solutions to come back to the game at the right time and to give back the joy to the people to be in the stadium, to follow our game.”

Around Town

Austin FC co-owner Matthew McConaughey took to Twitter to offer an inspirational message about dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. And if you stick around until the end, you just might catch a quote from his classic film “Dazed and Confused.”

MLS clubs continue to give back to their affected communities during the league’s hiatus.

The RSL Foundation is donating food originally intended for Real Salt Lake matches, as well as $5,000, for a total of $38,300 to Utah Food Bank

“In this difficult time that everyone is facing, we wanted to take the opportunity to help those in need,” RSL foundation executive director Mary Van Minde said in a statement. “In delivering food that may have gone to waste to the Utah Food Bank, the RSL Foundation aims not only to help people affected by the pandemic, but also create awareness for a giving opportunity right here in our community.”

FC Dallas partnered with Toyota to provide meals, originally intended for upcoming matches at Toyota Stadium, for local volunteers who have been feeding needy middle school students meals since the outbreak.

“We’re proud to work with Legends Hospitality and the food and beverage team at Toyota Stadium to provide these meals to the volunteers who are tirelessly working to ensure that FISD students do not go hungry during this unprecedented time,” FC Dallas foundation manager Brooke Leverette said in a statement.

Pictures and videos of animals help provide a sense of calm during these troubled times. Yesterday, we saw San Jose Earthquakes coach Matias Almeyda with his Yorkie.

Well, how about a soccer-playing horse?

Keeping Busy

What to watch has been a big theme during the break from soccer here and across the world.

With that in mind, some New York Red Bulls players provided their Netflix and chill favorites.

“The English Game,” a new Netflix series about the birth and growth of the game worldwide from the creator of Downton Abbey, debuts Friday.

Also on Friday, FS1 is showing a replay of the 2019 Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Netherlands at 8 p.m. ET.

No spoilers.

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