Tag Archives: Florida

Canadian men to face Cayman Islands in Florida in World Cup qualifying match

Canada’s World Cup qualifying game scheduled for March 28 in the Cayman Islands will now be played in Bradenton, Fla.

The match will be played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, where the Canadian team held a camp in January.

The Canadian men kick off their Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign against Bermuda on March 25, also in Florida. While a Canada home game, the match was moved to Orlando’s Exploria Stadium because of pandemic-related border restrictions.

The Cayman Islands faces its own difficulties in hosting a game, given it currently requires visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon entry. That quarantine period is being reduced to 10 as of March 22, providing visitors have been vaccinated.

The Canadian men are currently ranked 73rd in the world compared to No. 169 for Bermuda and No. 193 for the Cayman Islands.

Canada is 5-0-4 all-time against Bermuda and has won the last three meetings, outscoring the Bermudians 9-2.

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Wilfried Nancy named head coach of CF Montreal, team to start season in Florida

After overhauling their name and look, CF Montreal have announced their latest adjustments — a new coach and a new temporary home.

The club announced Monday that former assistant coach Wilfried Nancy has been promoted to the top job. He takes over from Thierry Henry, who resigned last month citing family reasons.

“I’m not going to lie — soccer, football, it is my passion,” Nancy told reporters Monday. “For me, this is a good step.”

Montreal also announced it will open the season playing home games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because of border restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nancy, a 43-year-old Frenchman, has been an assistant coach with the first team since 2016, and said he wants to build on what the group accomplished last season.

Montreal finished the regular season with a 8-13-2, good for ninth spot in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. The club — known as the Montreal Impact before a rebrand in January — made the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but was eliminated by the New England Revolution in the play-in round.

‘We’re going to be a good team’

The team established a style of play last year, Nancy said.

“We will continue that style of play,” he said. “We’re going to be a good team, proactive, dynamic and we will be able also to put produce on the opposition.”

Working under Henry — formerly a marquee striker with Arsenal in the English Premier League — was an illuminating experience, Nancy said.

“I worked with a champion,” he said. “Thierry was a star as a player and I understood why he was a star,.”

Henry was a demanding coach who found it hard to accept that players would make mistakes, but he also set a strong example for the team, Nancy said.

“For me, it was good to learn from Thierry about the desire to win and the desire to succeed,” he said. “This is the first time that I can see that close to me.”

CF Montreal announced on Feb. 25 that Henry was stepping down after a single season as the club’s head coach.

There was a lot of interest in the job from people across Europe and North America, sporting director Olivier Renard said. While he declined to say who else was considered, Renard added that the pandemic wasn’t an obstacle in the hiring process.

What set Nancy apart from other applicants was his determination and his familiarity with the club, Renard said.

“I know his philosophy, I know what he wants to do for the club. And the club knows also what he makes the last 10 years of the club,” he said.

“It’s not only we gave him the chance, he deserved the chance also.”

While’s Nancy’s contract is for one year, Renard said in French that the new coach doesn’t have a sword hanging over his head.

Nancy said he understands the situation and is OK with it.

“I have to do my job now as a coach to go forward,” he said.

Experience developing young talent

Before joining the first team as an assistant coach, Nancy worked as a coach in the club’s academy system.

His experience developing young talent is part of what makes Nancy a good fit for the head coach role, Renard said.

“One of the best qualities of Wil is his communication with young guys,” he said. “We need that.”

Assistant coaches Kwame Ampadu and Laurent Ciman, goalkeeper coach Remy Vercoutre and fitness coach Jules Gueguen will complete Nancy’s staff.

The newly minted coach and his team opened training camp in Montreal last week, but will soon make the move to a warmer locale.

Club to play in Fort Lauderdale

The club announced Monday that it will begin its season in Florida, playing at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale and using Inter Miami CF’s facilities for daily training.

CF Montreal is set to move south on April 6 and plans to play two pre-season games in Florida before the MLS season begins on April 17.

The club will have ample Canadian company in the Sunshine State. The Raptors, Blue Jays and Toronto FC are all playing in Florida due to border restrictions and the Canadian national men’s soccer team also will play a home World Cup qualifying game in the state.

The restrictions forced all three Canadian MLS teams to move south last season. Montreal finished out the year in Harrison, N.J., sharing a stadium with the New York Red Bulls.

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Trump to make 1st post-presidential appearance at upcoming conservative gathering in Florida

Former U.S. president Donald Trump will be making his first post-presidential appearance at a conservative gathering in Florida next weekend.

Ian Walters, spokesperson for the American Conservative Union, confirmed that Trump will be speaking at the group’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 28.

Trump is expected to use the speech to talk about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, as well as to criticize President Joe Biden’s efforts to undo Trump’s immigration policies, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.


Trump gives a thumbs-up to supporters as he rides by in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 15. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post/The Associated Press)

CPAC is being held this year in Orlando, Fla., and will feature a slew of former Trump administration officials and others who represent his wing of the party, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.


Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at the Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., after leaving the White House on Jan. 20. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/The Associated Press)

Trump has been keeping a relatively low profile since he retired from the White House to Palm Beach, Fla., in January, but he re-emerged last week to conduct a series of phone-in interviews to commemorate the death of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Trump has a long history with CPAC, which played a key role in his emergence as a political force.

WATCH | Trump acquitted in 2nd impeachment trial: How it played out:

Donald Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment trial by a vote of 57-43 in the U.S. Senate. 5:32

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Brett Peterson joins Florida Panthers as NHL’s 1st Black assistant GM

The Florida Panthers on Tuesday hired Brett Peterson as an assistant general manager, making him the first Black executive to hold that position in the NHL.

Peterson’s hiring comes days after the nearby Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as the first female GM in Major League Baseball. The NFL’s Miami Dolphins have a Black GM, Chris Grier, and coach, Brian Flores.

“I don’t think they’re just going out to get people; I think they’ve identified people that are good at what they do and hard-working and excited,” Peterson said on a conference call with reporters. “It just so happens to be that a couple of us are African-American and one of us is a woman and that shouldn’t matter. We want the best candidates.”

Among its recent anti-racism and diversity initiatives, the NHL formed an executive inclusion council that aims to increase minority participation in front offices and on coaching staffs. Peterson said his hiring is a milestone that he called “hard to put into words.

“I’m just happy that now there can be a second and a third,” Peterson said. “It’s going to be exciting times because I think other people will realize that things are possible and they should be. There’s never really been a hard stop, but there hasn’t been this type of opportunity yet, so I’m happy that we can hopefully create some more.”

The 39-year-old Peterson has a background as a player agent just like GM Bill Zito and fellow assistant Paul Krepelka. He was previously vice-president of hockey for Wasserman Media Group and has been an NHLPA certified agent since 2009.

“It’s a great move by the Florida Panthers, and Wasserman Hockey will certainly miss him,” Wasserman Hockey senior vice-president Judd Moldaver said in a phone interview. “He played the game at a high level. He treats people the right way. He’s extremely smart. Players love him, respect him.”

Aims to make sport more inclusive

Peterson played five pro seasons in the minors after winning a national title during his time at Boston College. The Northborough, Mass., native also advises and consults for a non-profit organization that provides mentoring and hockey programs for underprivileged youth and underserved communities.

“His substantive hockey experience as a player, significant developmental and evaluation skills and business acumen as a negotiator combine to form an elite skill set that is very difficult to find in our sport,” Zito said in a release sent by the Panthers. “There are many who can excel in one of those disciplines but few who excel in all three.”

The Panthers said Peterson will take an active role in their foundation’s community programs aimed at making the sport more inclusive in South Florida.

“I have worked with Brett for a number of years, and it’s not surprising that his skills were coveted by a front office,” said Wasserman Hockey executive VP Markus Lehto, who took over many of Zito’s clients at Acme World Sports when Zito became assistant GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I expect that many of the same qualities that made him a successful agent — his character, his respect within the industry and his understanding of all levels of the game — will also make him a successful executive.”

Boston College coach Jerry York called Zito the day after he took the Panthers GM job to recommend Peterson who, the Hockey Hall of Famer says, could have gone into any line of work he wanted after graduating. He opted to go the agent route.

“First person of colour that’s been an assistant general manager in the NHL — that’s breaking barriers,” York said. “I’d love to see him stay in that endeavour for a while and after five, six years or whatever, he could become a general manager seamlessly.”

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Trump resumes campaign with Florida rally 10 days after COVID-19 disclosure

U.S. President Donald Trump will try to put his bout with COVID-19 behind him when he returns to the campaign trail on Monday, beginning a three-week sprint to the Nov. 3 election with a rally in the battleground state of Florida.

The event at an airport in Sanford, Fla., will be Trump’s first campaign rally since he disclosed on Oct. 2 that he tested positive for COVID-19. Trump, who spent three nights in the hospital for treatment, said on Sunday he had fully recovered and was no longer infectious, but he did not say directly whether he had tested negative for the coronavirus.

The Republican president, 74, is seeking to change the dynamics of a race that national opinion polls and some state polls show he is losing to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, 77.

For months, Trump had worked furiously to shift public attention away from the virus and his handling of the pandemic, which has infected nearly 7.7 million people in the United States, killed more than 214,000 and put millions out of work.

His own illness has put the spotlight squarely on his coronavirus response during the closing stretch of the race.

In a sign of fresh optimism, Biden heads on Monday to Ohio, a state Trump won by eight percentage points in 2016 and almost certainly must carry again to win. It is Biden’s second campaign trip in as many weeks to Ohio, which was once thought out of reach but where polls now show a tight race.


Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to the media as he arrives at New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del., on Saturday. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

Trump’s rally in Florida, and planned rallies in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Iowa on Wednesday and North Carolina on Thursday, will be watched closely to see whether the president has reshaped his campaign approach since contracting the virus.

Critics fault him for failing to encourage supporters at campaign events, and even White House staff, to wear protective masks and abide by physical-distancing guidelines. At least 11 close Trump aides have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Standing alone on a White House balcony on Saturday, a maskless Trump urged hundreds of largely Black and Latino supporters to help get out the vote. Most in the crowd wore masks but ignored physical-distancing guidelines.

Biden, who has said it is irresponsible for any candidate to hold events where attendees are not wearing masks or engaging in physical distancing, lashed out at the president’s approach.

“President Trump comes to Sanford today bringing nothing but reckless behaviour, divisive rhetoric and fear mongering,” Biden, the Democratic former vice-president said in a statement.

Florida up for grabs

Trump told Fox News in an interview on Sunday that he felt good and pointed to his physician’s memo from Saturday saying he had taken a test showing he was no longer infectious.

“I passed the highest test, the highest standards, and I’m in great shape,” Trump told Sunday Morning Futures.

Trump also said, without producing evidence, that he was now immune, an assertion that drew a flag from Twitter for violating the social media platform’s rules about misleading information related to COVID-19.

The scientific research has been inconclusive on how long people who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies and are protected from a second infection.

Most recent polls in Florida, where a Trump loss would dramatically narrow his path to re-election, show Biden with a small lead. Trump won Florida over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 by just 1.2 percentage points, which helped propel him to the White House.

On his visit to Ohio, Biden will deliver a speech in Toledo meant to undermine what polls show is Trump’s last greatest strength, the view among some voters that the former real estate entrepreneur is better on handling the economy.

Biden also will attend a get-out-the-vote event in Cincinnati, his campaign said.

Trump has pulled back his advertising in Ohio in recent days, while Biden has increased his, another sign of the opportunity he and his fellow Democrats see to make more states competitive than they initially imagined.

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SpaceX capsule leaves ISS as U.S. astronauts aim for splashdown off Florida coast

The first astronauts launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company departed the International Space Station on Saturday night for the final and most important part of their test flight: returning to Earth with a rare splashdown.

NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken bid farewell to the three men left behind as their SpaceX Dragon capsule undocked and headed toward a Sunday afternoon descent by parachute into the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite tropical storm Isaias’s surge toward Florida’s Atlantic shore, NASA said the weather looked favourable off the coast of Pensacola on the extreme opposite side of the state.

It will be the first splashdown for astronauts in 45 years. The last time was following the joint U.S.-Soviet mission in 1975 known as Apollo-Soyuz.


Space station commander Chris Cassidy rang the ship’s bell as Dragon pulled away, 430 kilometres above Johannesburg, South Africa. Within a few minutes, all that could be seen of the capsule was a pair of flashing lights against the black void of space.

“It’s been a great two months, and we appreciate all you’ve done as a crew to help us prove out Dragon on its maiden flight,” Hurley radioed to the space station.

“Safe travels,” Cassidy replied, “and have a successful landing.”

The astronauts’ homecoming will cap a mission that ended a prolonged launch drought in the U.S., which has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the end of the shuttle era.

SpaceX 1st private company to send people into orbit

In launching Americans Hurley and Behnken from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on May 30, SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit. Now SpaceX is on the verge of becoming the first company to bring people back from orbit.

“The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important is bringing us home,” Behnken said several hours before strapping into the Dragon.

A successful splashdown, Behnken said, will bring U.S.-crew launching capability “full circle.”


Astronauts Bob Behnken, front left, and Doug Hurley, front right, are expected to splash down in the Atlantic off Florida on Sunday. (NASA/The Associated Press)

At a farewell ceremony earlier in the day, Cassidy, who will remain on board with two Russians until October, presented Hurley with the small U.S. flag left behind by the previous astronauts to launch to the space station from U.S. soil. Hurley was the pilot of that final shuttle mission in July 2011.

The flag — which also flew on the first shuttle flight in 1981 — became a prize for the company that launched astronauts first.


SpaceX easily beat Boeing, which isn’t expected to launch its first crew until next year and will land in the U.S. Southwest. The flag has one more flight after this one: to the moon on NASA’s Artemis program in the next few years.

“We’re a little sad to see them go,” Cassidy said, “but very excited for what it means to our international space program to add this capability” of commercial crew capsules. The next SpaceX crew flight is targeted for the end of September.

Hurley and Behnken also are bringing back a sparkly blue and purple dinosaur named Tremor. Their young sons chose the toy to accompany their fathers on the historic mission.

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Isaias weakens but expected to regain hurricane strength as it nears virus-weary Florida

Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday and weakened to a tropical storm as it churned toward the Florida coast, where it still threatened to complicate efforts to contain the coronavirus in a hot spot.

The storm, which is expected to regain hurricane strength as it nears Florida, is piling another burden on communities already hit hard by other storms and sickness.

Florida authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites. Though officials do not expect to have to evacuate residents, they wrestled with how to prepare shelters where people can seek refuge from the storm if necessary while safely physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The most important thing we want people to do now is remain vigilant,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening. Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas cleared people out of Abaco island who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people.


The centre of the storm is forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida early Sunday morning and then travel along the state’s east coast throughout the day. (NOAA via The Associated Press)

Isaias had maximum sustained winds of near 110 km/h at about 5 p.m. ET Saturday, a decline from earlier in the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It is expected to regain strength as it heads over warm water toward Florida.

The centre of the storm is forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida early Sunday morning and then travel along the state’s east coast throughout the day. It is expected to regain hurricane strength overnight as it nears Florida.

Despite the approaching storm, NASA says the return of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX capsule is still on track for Sunday afternoon. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are preparing to make the first splashdown return in 45 years after two months docked at the International Space Station. They are aiming for the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida Panhandle, and flight controllers are keeping close watch on the storm.

Caribbean slammed

The storm has already been destructive in the Caribbean: On Thursday, while still a tropical storm, Isaias uprooted trees, destroyed crops and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

One man died in the Dominican Republic, where more than 5,000 people were evacuated, hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed and more than 130 communities were cut off by floodwaters.

In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered on Saturday.

WATCH | Puerto Rico hit by Isaias:

Widespread damage reported as storm gains hurricane strength on its way to U.S. East Coast. 1:01

Concerns about the coronavirus and the vulnerability of people who are still recovering from Dorian were adding to worries about the Category 1 storm. 

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis relaxed a coronavirus lockdown as a result of the storm but imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be open as long as weather permitted.

“The centre of COVID-19 now is in Grand Bahama,” the island’s minister, Sen. Kwasi Thompson, told government-run ZNS Bahamas. “No one wanted to see a situation where we are now facing a hurricane.”

The Bahamas has reported more than 570 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 14 deaths. It recently barred travellers from the U.S. following a surge in cases after it reopened to international tourism.

Paula Miller, Mercy Corps director for the Bahamas, told The Associated Press that people on the island were still standing in line for gas on Saturday ahead of the storm.

The area was still recovering from Dorian, complicating preparations for this one.

“People are doing the best they can to prepare, but a lot of businesses still have not fully repaired their roofs or their structures,” Miller said. “Even a lower-level storm could really set them back.”

Storm complicates Florida’s COVID-19 efforts

As it moves now toward the southeast coast of Florida, a hurricane warning is in effect from Boca Raton to the Volusia-Flagler county line, which lies about 240 kilometres north. A hurricane watch was in effect from Hallendale Beach to south of Boca Raton. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the area, and a watch means they are possible.

Florida has been a coronavirus hot spot in the United States in recent weeks, and the storm is upending some efforts to control the virus. State-run testing sites are closing in areas where the storm might hit because the sites are outdoor tents, which could topple in high winds.

DeSantis, the governor, said Saturday that 12 counties have adopted states of emergency, although no immediate evacuation orders have been given. He also said that hospitals are not being evacuated of coronavirus or other patients.


The Republican governor told a morning news conference that the state is prepared with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.

The pandemic forced officials to wrestle with physical-distancing rules at the same time as disaster response.

For example, in Marion County, Fla., officials say people would be provided facial coverings if they have to go to shelters. The facilities will have sanitizers and personal protective equipment if needed, although they would prefer people bring their own PPE.


Cars drive past a sign displaying a hurricane warning in Boynton Beach, Fla., on Saturday. (Wilfredo Lee/The Associated Press)

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said each person in a shelter needed to have 40 square feet, and no more cafeteria-style dining would be allowed. Any evacuees infected with the novel coronavirus would be isolated in classrooms separate them from the general population, Gimenez said.

Kevin Shelton, the owner of Causeway Mowers in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., said his store has been packed since Friday. People streamed in to buy generators, chainsaws and other provisions. On Saturday morning, Shelton and his wife served at least 25 customers an hour, which is double the business they’d normally do on a weekend.

“They’re not saying much about COVID, they’re just making sure they have the proper supplies,” he said. “We’ve been in the area almost 50 years. We keep an eye on every storm. Every time we have a storm, we take it seriously. It could shift in this direction at any moment.”

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TFC leaves for Florida with concerns over COVID-19 situation that awaits

Toronto FC heads to Florida with some unease given recent positive tests there by FC Dallas players and the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases state-wide.

“There’s concern, no doubt,” said head coach Greg Vanney. “Because it’s showing that the [MLS] bubble is not impenetrable and there are some issues that are going on. The question is how quickly can the protocols that are in place down there get things under control so it doesn’t start to spread inside of the bubble.

“That remains to be seen.” 

Vanney says if he could, he would delay his team’s departure to the MLS is Back Tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said of the departure date.

Vanney said given the team feels comfortable and safe in Toronto and the situation is less stable in Florida, “it just makes sense… that we don’t go barrelling down right now until they know that have everything under control.

“Maybe they do.”

The TFC delegation is scheduled to leave Friday, the latest allowed by Major League Soccer which has mandated teams have to arrive at least a week before their first game. Toronto opens July 10 against D.C. United.

The seven-day requirement is presumably to allow players time to be isolated if they test positive in Florida.

Not everything has been smooth in the leadup to leaving. Vanney said training had to be scrapped Wednesday because of a delay in getting COVID test results back.

WATCH | MLS players, owners reach deal with return-to-play plan: 

MLS players have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a return to play plan. 1:25

Still, Vanney says his players wants to take part in the tournament and are motivated to go deep into the World-Cup style event.

“At the same time, obviously they’re not oblivious to what’s happening,” he told a media conference call Thursday.

Asked if staging a tournament during the pandemic was worth it, Vanney replied: “it’s a tough one.”

“I don’t know. For me, if it’s my call, there’s a lot of things at play here,” added the father of four. “I have my concerns for our guys and for our team and our families and all that kind of stuff. But we’re doing it. And if we’re going to go do it, we’re going to go do it with the intent to be successful.”

‘The bubble’

Still, what is going on south of the border is worrying.

“The challenge that we all have on the human side of the group [is] we see what’s going on down in the U.S.,” Vanney said. “People are not taking things serious and it’s completely, in a lot of ways, out of control. And with very little leadership going on down there, outside of the bubble that is whatever MLS is trying to create.

“The problem is the bubble is only as good as what gets into the bubble. And that’s obviously becoming an issue, which is concerning for all of us. Our guys are very aware of it. Are they concerned? Yes. Are they right to be concerned? Yes, I guess.”

The league said Wednesday that two FC Dallas players tested positive upon arrival Saturday at the league’s host hotel in Florida. Another four tested positive within the last few days.

The entire Dallas party went into isolation pending additional testing. While teams are staying in the same hotel, they are supposed to be isolated from other squads.

WATCH | The challenges of choosing a hub city:

While the NHL tries to narrow down the list of hub cities from ten to two, Rob Pizzo looks at the problems they face. 3:00

The Columbus Dispatch, citing a source, reported Thursday that a Columbus player had also tested positive in Florida. The Crew arrived Sunday.

Vanney says his team wants to “the best of our ability” create its own bubble with the MLS bubble.

“What we can control is what we do,” he said. “That’s the first and foremost thing that we’ve got to try to do.”

Vanney says all MLS players coming into the bubble bear a responsibility to do the right thing leading into entering the controlled environment.

“I think some players have failed in some ways of keeping themselves quarantined and away from what’s going on around them and not bringing it into the bubble … The problem is we all rely on each other. That’s the way this works.”

‘A lot better control of the situation’

Florida reported a record 10,109 new cases Thursday, more than all the cases reported to date in Norway (8,865) according to the world Health Organization.

Toronto is bringing 29 players — all of its first-team players with the exception of rookie forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who is out for the season after an injury.

The 22-year-old from Nigeria tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in training Friday at BMO Field when he became tangled with defender Omar Gonzalez, who has seven inches and 45 pounds on him, while both attempted to get to a cross.

“It was one of the last plays of the day, unfortunately,” said Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

Achara is scheduled to undergo surgery next Tuesday. He will miss the rest of the season, whatever that is after the MLS is Back Tournament which runs July 8 to Aug. 11 in Florida.

Star striker Jozy Altidore, who has been training on his own while fulfilling his mandated quarantine after returning from his home in Florida, is due to rejoin the full team Friday for practice.

Vanney said they will be careful with his return, saying it would be asking a lot to be ready for the first game.

The Vancouver Whitecaps were slated to leave Wednesday. But their departure was postponed after two inclusive tests that later turned out to be negative. The Whitecaps were undergoing additional tests Thursday.

The Montreal Impact, who open July 9 against the New England Revolution, were slated to leave Thursday.

While the Canadian MLS teams head south to the COVID hot spot of Florida, NHL teams reportedly will be coming the other way to play.

Canada, Vanney said, seems to have “a lot better control of the situation.”

“To be able to go into that environment as a team would be a lot more comfortable than going down to what has essentially become the epicentre of the virus,” he said. “So for sure, that [coming to Canada] is a smart move.”

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9 more NBA players test positive for COVID-19 ahead of Florida arrival

Nine more NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19, less than a week before teams are set to travel to Florida to resume the 2020 season.

A total of 25 players and 10 team staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since testing began on June 23, the National Basketball Association said in a statement on Thursday.

“Any player, coach or team staff member who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until they satisfy public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and have been cleared by a physician,” the league said.

NBA teams are expected to travel on July 7 to Orlando, Florida, where the league plans to resume play on July 30, after the coronavirus outbreak put an abrupt hold on the season in March.

Players, coaches and other members of staff will practice, compete and live at Walt Disney World, with daily COVID-19 testing and no fans allowed inside the so-called “bubble.”

The Denver Nuggets shut down their training facility over the weekend after two members of the team’s travel party tested positive for COVID-19 and the New Orleans Pelicans said this week that three of their players also tested positive.

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NBA releases restart schedule after sides sign off on final terms of Florida plan

Acknowledging that no option would have been risk-free during a pandemic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that the concern shared by the league and its players surrounding next month’s restart of the season is rising as coronavirus cases in Florida keep climbing.

That said, the league and the National Basketball Players Association are moving forward — finalizing the deal that will bring the game back and see teams start arriving at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla., in less than two weeks.

The defending champion Toronto Raptors will resume their season on Aug. 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Raptors, along with the NBA, announced their revised eight-game schedule on Friday.

Under the format for the restart, the 22 participating teams will have eight “seeding games,” selected from their remaining regular-season matchups.

Toronto will also play Miami, Orlando, Boston, Memphis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Denver, with the seeding games concluding by Aug. 14.

All games will be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with no fans in attendance.

The Raptors held down the second seed in the Eastern Conference when play was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The NBA’s reopening night on July 31 will see New Orleans against Utah and the Clippers versus the Lakers.

Many of the details of the return-to-play agreement were already known: that “stringent health and safety protocols” would be in place for the participating teams, that no fans will be present and that games will be held in three different arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

But when those protocols were completed, the Orange County, Fla., area — which includes Orlando — had seen a five per cent rate of positive coronavirus tests over the preceding 10 days. In the 10 days that have followed, the rate of positive tests there has soared to just over 15 per cent.

“We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than outside it,” Silver said Friday afternoon. “But the signal we are sending is this is definitely not business as usual. This is far from an ideal way to finish our season, and it will require tremendous sacrifices from all those involved.”

WATCH | Former Raptors star Vince Carter calls it a career:

After playing for a record 22 seasons, 43-year-old Vince Carter, who launched his career with the Raptors, announced his retirement, leaving behind a complicated legacy in Toronto. 2:42

Silver said the league is working with Disney to test at least some of its on-site employees who could be in the same room as NBA players, which he believes will make the setting even safer.

Once players get to Disney, they will be tested daily. Testing is currently in an every-other-day mandatory phase for the teams set to participate in the restarted season. The results from Tuesday’s first 302 tests showed that 16 players were positive for the virus.

“I think one would have been concerning,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said. “But, God forgive me, I was frankly to some extent relieved that the number was not higher…. If nothing else, it told me that the great majority of our players have been doing exactly what they should have been doing to keep themselves safe.”

Silver said it may be possible that, if there was a significant spread of the virus within the Disney campus, “that might lead us to stopping.” He said the league has not precisely concluded what number of positive tests it would take to shut down the season once it resumes, and he continues working with the players and health officials to determine what that number should be.

Social justice a priority

The league and the union announced earlier this week that addressing racial issues and inequality in the country will be a priority during the restarted season. Silver, Roberts and others — including union president Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder — stressed Friday that those matters will be an extremely critical component of what happens at Disney, both on and off the floor.

While dealing with the plans for pulling off a restarted season and then playing a full post-season during a pandemic, the league and the union have had numerous meetings to discuss options for how to address issues such as the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the ongoing problem of police brutality and furthering the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We all understand how powerful our voice is,” Paul said. “Even if we’re back to playing, our voice can still be heard … on an unbelievable platform. You’re going to continue to hear us. It’s never a `shut up and dribble’ situation. You’re going to continue to hear us.”

Silver said the NBA sees itself as a key partner to the messages that players want to be seen and heard at Disney during a time of what he called enormous social unrest.

“We may be the most uniquely qualified organization in the world to effect change,” Silver said, noting that the league’s players are some of the best-known Black personalities on the planet.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 because of the virus. It took the league more than three months just to get to this point, and it would seem very unlikely that once teams get into what the league hopes is a secure environment at Disney, issues such as more positive tests wouldn’t be a factor.

There are countless business reasons to play, with massive revenue streams at stake for players, the league and the NBA’s media partners — Disney included. And Silver acknowledged that even though the league “hasn’t worked through every scenario” regarding the possibility of on-site positive tests at Disney, he believes coming back is the best move.

“Ultimately, whether it’s fighting racism or a pandemic, we’re coming back because sports matter in our society,” Silver said. “They bring people together when we need it the most and they can show how we can balance public health and economic necessity.”

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