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Toronto - DC United postponed
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Toronto FC-DC United postponed due to COVID-19 tests

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It happened just like that, after a day’s worth of hype for Sunday morning’s MLS is Back Tournament debuts from Toronto FC and DC United.

Two COVID-19 tests — an unconfirmed positive COVID-19 test and an inconclusive one — were enough to postpone the 9am ET kickoff from Orlando, where the participating teams are living for the month-long affair.

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MLS will announce details for the rescheduled match later Sunday.

Nashville SC and FC Dallas have been withdrawn from the tournament due to a series of COVID-19 tests while LAFC star Carlos Vela removed himself due to concerns for his growing family.

From TorontoFC.ca:

Under the league’s health and safety protocols, clubs are tested the day before each match.  The results of yesterday’s tests for D.C. United and Toronto FC produced an initial unconfirmed positive COVID-19 case for one player and an inconclusive test for another player.  Because of the arrival time of the clubs in Orlando, the league’s protocol called for retesting both teams this morning and to await the results of those tests prior to playing the match.

FC Dallas withdrawn from MLS is Back tourney; Vela to sit out

FC Dallas withdraws from MLS is Back
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Carlos Vela’s decision to sit out the MLS is Back tournament has been one-upped by reports that MLS has pulled an entire team out of the fray in Florida.

Vela, considered by many to be the league’s top player, is opting out of representing LAFC and choosing to spend time with his pregnant wife and children.

The Mexican star, 31, said he would love to play but the coronavirus pandemic means missing out is in “the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy.”

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LAFC released a statement supporting Vela’s “difficult decision,” which will not help the West’s top side in its bid to outlast the Galaxy, Houston, and Portland in Group F, should the tournament go forward as planned.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas’ bad month has gotten much worse. Six players reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 last week and reports grew to include 10 players and one coach.

The side’s opening match against Vancouver was postponed on Saturday. Now FC Dallas says it is supporting an MLS decision to take the team out of the tournament. FC Dallas says it will take every precaution to make sure its return to Texas “minimizes risk of exposure to all parties involved.”

Dallas was drawn into Group B with Seattle, Vancouver, and San Jose. Two of the teams were set to advance to the knockout rounds.

Here is MLS’ statement on FC Dallas’ withdrawal:

“Major League Soccer announced today that FC Dallas have been withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament due to 10 players and one member of the technical staff confirmed positive for COVID-19. Each of these positive tests either occurred upon the club’s arrival or within a few days of arrival. The decision was made in the best interest of the health of all players and staff participating in the tournament, and in line with protocols created in conjunction with local and national health authorities and infectious disease experts.
“’Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,’ said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. ‘The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.’
Of the 557 players currently in Orlando, Fla. 13 total players have been confirmed positive for COVID-19, 10 of those being FC Dallas players and the remaining three from two other clubs.”

Report: Rangers sell one-time USMNT player Polster to New England

Matt Polster Rangers
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An American abroad is coming home after an uneven time in Scotland.

Former Southern Illinois and Chicago Fire mainstay Matt Polster will return to Major League Soccer this summer with the New England Revolution.

Bruce Arena’s Revs will reportedly pony up about $375,000 to buy Polster from Rangers, where he signed on a free transfer in January 2019 following three-plus MLS seasons that saw him earn a USMNT cap.

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He was called up to two January camps for the U.S., going 90 minutes at right back against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. Polster was also a contributor to the U.S. Olympic qualification push in 2015.

Polster, 27, finishes his time with 10 appearances and an assist Steven Gerrard’s Glaswegian set, getting Scottish Premiership and Europa League experience this season.

A defensive midfielder and right back in MLS, Polster played only the latter with Rangers thanks to Scott Arfield, Ryan Jack, Steven Davis, and Glen Kamara chewing up minutes in the middle of the park.

Transfer news: Red Bulls in for ex-Newcastle man; Latest on Hojbjerg

Toney to New York Red Bulls
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Are the New York Red Bulls following their old playbook in search of a new star striker?

Peterborough Today says RBNY bid around $5 million plus add-ons to try to pry striker Ivan Toney from League One side Peterborough United.

The bid is less than half the asking price for Toney, according to the report, who has also been linked with Celtic.

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Toney, 24, saw his way to Premier League side Newcastle United after scoring eight goals for League Two’s Northampton Town in 2014-15, but made just four appearances for the Magpies and made five loan stints before being sold to the Posh.

He’s scored 49 times in two seasons, drawing the interest of many in England and, obviously, abroad.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is RBNY’s leading scorer. Now at LAFC, BWP’s only double-digit goal seasons before coming to MLS were with League One sides Plymouth Argyle and Charlton Athletic.

The Posh think they can get a better deal for the English striker and they may be right, coronavirus market pending, but you can see why the move is appealing to an RBNY side without a proven center forward.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Tottenham Hotspur is a potential landing spot for Southampton wantaway Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who handed in his captain’s armband this week at the request of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Football.London says Saints have received three offers for Hojbjerg and that Spurs have offered Saints a player-plus-cash deal for the 24-year-old ex-Bayern Munich and Schalke man.

Hojbjerg reportedly enjoys Southampton but wants a move to a club participating in European competition.

He’s been linked with Spurs for some time, but who would they send back the other way if Saints were willing to listen to the idea?

Kyle Walker-Peters is currently on loan to the St. Mary’s outfit from Spurs, but it’s challenging to predict who might not be wanted by Jose Mourinho yet deemed impactful by Hasenhuttl.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Durant joins ownership group of MLS’ Philadelphia Union

Kevin Durant Philadelphia Union
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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has joined the ownership group of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union.

Durant, a 10-time NBA All-Star, has a 5% ownership stake, with an option for 5% more in the near future, the Union announced Monday.

“I’ve always been a soccer fan and have wanted to get into it in a meaningful way. My team and I felt an instant connection with the Philadelphia Union ownership and staff and their vision for a partnership,” Durant said in a statement. “While you won’t get to see me at games for now, my team and I will be taking an active role in the community where I can help give back to Chester (Pennsylvania) and Philadelphia.”

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The Union and Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures, a firm he runs with sports executive Rich Kleiman, will partner to grow the team’s profile and community outreach through the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.

Thirty Five Ventures and the Union aim to develop community programs in Chester, Pennsylvania, home of the Union’s Subaru Park, to address racial and social injustice as well as recovery efforts from the coronavirus pandemic.

“This partnership was months in the making and in the process, our teams got to know each other very well and understand the true potential for the future,” said Kleiman, Durant’s agent. “We believe that Thirty Five Ventures and our expertise will attract new fans in Philly and beyond, so we’re excited to get started.”

Major League Soccer’s season has been on hold since March 12 because of the pandemic. The 26-team league is set to restart next month with a World Cup-style tournament in Florida.

The NBA has been shut down since March 11, the night Utah center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to have a positive diagnosis for the virus. The NBA also is planning an August restart, with playoffs held at Disney World.

Durant, who has also played with Oklahoma City and Golden State over a 12-year NBA career, has yet to play for the Nets after rupturing an Achilles tendon last year with the Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Toronto.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Durant had in the past shown interest in D.C. United, but nothing came of it.

The Union has increased its community outreach in the city, which lies southwest of Philadelphia. The team helped Chester High School bring back its varsity soccer team.

“From the first meeting between Kevin, Thirty Five Ventures, and our leadership team, it was evident that we shared a similar set of beliefs. We talked about the vision for our club and for the Chester and Philadelphia communities but also about what it takes to win,” said Union principal owner Jay Sugarman. “We’re excited to have someone as forward-thinking and driven as Kevin become a partner in our organization.”

Durant is not the first NBA player to buy into an MLS club. Houston Rockets star James Harden joined the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and the NWSL’s Houston Dash last year.