Fourth LAFC international player, Brian Rodríguez, tests positive for coronavirus
Rodríguez, who led the team with seven assists this season, tested positive Thursday after playing 30 minutes off the bench for Uruguay in its 2-0 loss to Brazil in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday. Diego Rossi, whose 14 goals led MLS this season, did not leave the bench in that game and also tested positive afterward.
Midfielder José Cifuentes and defender Diego Palacios, neither of whom played in Ecuador’s two qualifiers this month, tested positive last weekend. All four will remain in isolation in their respective countries, LAFC said.
If LAFC beats Seattle, the players could be cleared in time to return for the Western Conference semifinals on Dec. 1.
“We always knew the possibility would exist between quarantine or unfortunately positive tests, that we wouldn’t have some of the guys that traveled,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said after training Thursday.
LAFC will be without forward Diego Rossi for its playoff opener against Seattle after the MLS leading scorer tested positive for coronavirus.
With Palacios and Rodríguez both out, Bradley mentioned the possibility of starting 16-year-old Christian Torres alongside Carlos Vela in the playoff opener. Torres started twice during the regular season, playing 212 minutes and scoring once.
LAFC has had seven players test positive for COVID-19 in just over three weeks. The first three, who were shown to be infected after in late October, have been cleared and returned to training.
With more than a half-dozen teams having dealt with positive COVID cases during the regular season, MLS adopted a playoff protocol to deal with future outbreaks. The first move would be an attempt to reschedule games involving teams that are dealing with multiple coronavirus cases but because the playoff window is tight — the MLS Cup will be played Dec. 12 — if a game can’t be rescheduled, the team with the outbreak will be forced to forfeit.
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.
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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