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MLS return, Orlando, Moreira - Timbers questions abound

Soccer's return looks very tentative with two weeks to go
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The Portland Timbers are set to return to Major League Soccer play sometime after July 8, although that schedule seems a bit tentative with a surprise announcement Monday - from the National Women's Soccer League.

Orlando, one of the nine NWSL teams set to play in the league tournament that begins Saturday, withdrew due to positive tests for COVID-19 from both players and staff. 

Orlando is the site of the MLS Tournament that includes all 26 teams. The tournament is scheduled to be played all at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the site of the Walt Disney World Resort. Fans will not be part of the action.

Heading into Tuesday, the league had released the list of eight groupings for the event, but not a schedule for matches. Three matches - one in the morning and two in the evening, will be played throughout the tournament, which has a final scheduled for August 11.

Following the tournament, the league has announced regular-season play will continue at home sites in some form.

The Timbers' off-season roster moves hit an unexpected question as well on Monday when news of defender Jorge Moreira's return to Athletico River Plate was reportedly scuttled due to Moreira. The 30-year-old, who played last season with Portland while on loan, told online site transfermrkt.com that he wanted to return to the Timbers as opposed to the Buenos Aries club that plays in the Superliga in a stadium with 65,000 seats.

River Plate is one of the Argentine league powers with six players on the national squad and a budget that pays out roughly five times what the Timbers pay their players. Moreira's playing time was a significant question with his home club, while he was a starter in Portland.

"I will not have a place in the team, the places are complete," Moreira said to the media site TyC Sport, transfermrkt.com reported.

Portland will have to pay $1.5 million to complete the transfer. Moreira wants to continue his career in Portland but could also move to another MLS team. "Right now we are looking at all possibilities," Moreira said.

The Timbers have not commented about a potential return of Moreira.

Portland began individual workouts for the MLS Tournament in early June. 

With COVID-19 cases increasing daily in Florida and the Orlando exit from the NWSL Tournament, comment from MLS has become increasingly important.

 

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