The MLS is Back Tournament will at long last mark the return of men’s professional soccer in the United States and Canada, but not every top player will be back in action once the ball gets rolling.
Two days are all that separate us from the start of the much-anticipated MLS is Back Tournament, and the excitement is ramping up. Games will come quick and often, and will provide ample opportunity to gauge just where teams and players stand after months of being on hiatus due to the pandemic shutdown.
Naturally, not every team will be at full strength. Several key players will not compete in the competition in Orlando, Florida, due to varying reasons.
Among the players that will not take part are those who have been recently signed by teams as Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) signings. Atlanta United’s Jurgen Damm and Inter Miami acquisition Leandro Gonzalez Pirez are examples of such players who won’t be playing in the tournament despite having been recently introduced by their teams.
Here is a rundown of some of the notable players that will not take part in the MLS is Back Tournament (we will update the list as the week goes on):
Carlos Vela, LAFC
The reigning MLS MVP will miss the competition due to family reasons. Vela’s wife is pregnant, and he is skipping the trip to Orlando in order to stay with her. With the talented winger not participating, LAFC will have to find a way to replace his productivity and quality in the attack if it wishes to be the last team standing.
Jonathan dos Santos, LA Galaxy
Another LA star set to miss out. The Mexican midfielder will not be with the Galaxy due to a hernia injury that required surgery. It is expected that dos Santos’ is sidelined for up to six weeks, a major blow to the Galaxy’s chances in Central Florida.
Ike Opara, Minnesota United
The current MLS Defender of the Year is sidelined for the upcoming competition because of health reasons. Opara took to his Twitter account to announce his absence earlier this month, leaving Minnesota United with a big hole to fill on its back line.
Fredy Montero, Vancouver Whitecaps
Like Vela, family matters are going to keep Montero out. The Whitecaps attacker revealed on his Instagram account that he is staying in Canada with his wife and daughters, and in part because of an unforeseen health emergency that had come up in the family in recent months.
Robbie Robinson, Inter Miami
A promising rookie who won’t be in Orlando, Robinson figured to be a starting striker option for Inter Miami after showing glimpses in his first two matches. He just left the MLS is Back Tournament ‘bubble” to attend to personal matters, however, and will therefore not compete in the event.
Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas
Involved in an alleged domestic abuse incident, Gonzalez is currently suspended while MLS investigates the matter. FC Dallas’ No. 1 did not travel with the team to Orlando, and it remains unclear just how much longer the goalkeeper will be away from the group.