Toronto FC's pre-season has ground to a halt after a number of positive COVID-19 tests.
The MLS team said Monday club personnel are currently isolating and training has halted pending contact tracing and follow-up testing. The club did not identify who tested positive, saying only they were members of the "team delegation."
The club's north Toronto training centre has been closed. The club had been practising behind closed doors there and at BMO Field, whose playing surface has underground heating.
GM Ali Curtis said it started with one positive test and is now at "a small handful" of positives, The club is now testing everyone daily while working with local health authorities with the goal of getting "back to training in a safe way."
Citing privacy concerns, Curtis declined to comment on the condition of those who tested positive.
"We feel good about the strength of the medical protocols … We're trying to be smart about this and trying to use all our resources to ensure that everyone returns to health and returns to play in a really, really safe way," he said.
"Every team in every different league has been dealing with this. We were really fortunate in that last year we didn't have one staff or player test positive during the season. Last season was a great season for us in that respect. This year, we've got to respond in the right way to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible."
Toronto finished out the 2020 campaign in East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related border restrictions. The club plans to begin the season in Florida, with "home" games either in Orlando or Tampa to start.
Toronto opened camp Feb. 17, allowed to begin its pre-season early to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League. While no date has been announced yet for the game, March 20 has been floated.
The winner of the Canadian Championship advances to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, to meet Mexico's Club Leon in a round-of-16 tie that opens April 7.
The MLS regular season kicks of April 17.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021