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LAFC star Diego Rossi tests positive for coronavirus

Diego Rossi battles for the ball with Real Salt Lake's Justin Meram and Donny Toia.
LAFC forward Diego Rossi, right, battles Real Salt Lake’s Justin Meram and Donny Toia on Sept. 9 in Sandy, Utah.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

LAFC forward Diego Rossi, the MLS scoring leader this season, tested positive for coronavirus after Uruguay’s World Cup-qualifying loss to Brazil on Tuesday and will miss the team’s playoff opener with the Seattle Sounders next week.

Rossi is the third LAFC player to test positive while on international duty in South America in the last week; defender Diego Palacios and midfielder José Cifuentes tested positive while with Ecuador. All three will quarantine in their home countries and follow local restrictions and protocol before returning to Los Angeles., LAFC said Wednesday. They are expected to miss the first playoff game while in quarantine.

Forward Brian Rodríguez, who played the final 40 minutes for Uruguay on Tuesday, tested negative. His return to Los Angeles as well as his status for LAFC’s playoff match against Seattle Sounders FC on Tuesday is still to be determined.

With COVID-19 cases blowing up around the country, MLS has developed a playoff protocol on how to deal with outbreaks. According to a league official with knowledge of the plan, the league will attempt to reschedule games involving teams, like LAFC, that are dealing with multiple coronavirus cases. However, the playoff window is tight — the MLS Cup will be played Dec. 12 — and if a game can’t be rescheduled, the team with the outbreak will be forced to forfeit.

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If both teams are unable to play safely because of coronavirus infections, the team with the highest points-per-game average during the regular season would advance without having to play the game.

Rossi, 22, who scored 14 goals this season and was named the league’s young player of the year earlier this week, was on the bench Tuesday in Montevideo but didn’t play. He tested positive after the match. Rossi has been called up for his national team twice this fall, flying to South America on commercial flights during the pandemic both times, but has yet to see a minute of game time.

Palacios and Cifuentes have also been called up twice by Ecuador this fall, with only Palacios seeing action, for the final 13 minutes of last month’s win over Uruguay.

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LAFC (9-8-5) finished seventh in the Western Conference standings, and will open the playoffs on the road for the first time. Seattle (11-5-6) is the defending MLS champion and has lost just once in 10 tries at home this season.


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