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Portland Timbers navigating life inside Major League Soccer bubble

The team has arrived in Orlando to begin practices before the tournament begins on July 8.

The Portland Timbers are living life inside a bubble.

They're preparing for the MLS is Back Tournament at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. They'll be living and playing there, away from their families until the event wraps up in mid-August. Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese says the club is doing what it can to help the families of players living in Oregon.

"We're not only thinking about the players here but also trying to give them peace of mind and do everything possible we can to keep their families safe back in Portland," said Savarese. "Bringing meals to the families, making sure that we can provide nannies for the players and give some time off to the wives. You look at Diego Chara for example, he has 4 kids, it's not easy, so we have to make sure that we're mindful of that and we have to support their families in a big way in order for our players to have peace of mind."

Portland's first match is Monday, July 13 versus the LA Galaxy. The tournament kicks-off on July 8 and has already been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  

The Nashville SC versus Chicago Fire FC match was part of a double-header on opening night. That match has been postponed due to five Nashville players testing positive for COVID-19. Four other players received inconclusive results and require further testing. Major League Soccer released a statement saying it will continue to evaluate Nashville SC's participation in the tournament after the results of additional testing.

This comes after FC Dallas was sent home because of 10 players testing positive within the club.

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Portland head coach Giovanni Savarese says his team feels safe in the bubble, but they have to continue to be cautious.

"For me, the most important part has been what teams have done in their own markets. I think that's crucial," said Savarese. "That's why I feel very proud of our players in how they conducted themselves in Portland and I think that's a key factor and we have to continue to do that."

Savarese says the team's efforts to stay healthy have continued inside the bubble.

"There was always a level of concern which I think is important because if you don't have concern, you put your guard down, and all of a sudden you're not as worried as you have been," said Savarese. "I have to continue to remind the players at all times, wear masks and stay on our floors.  These types of situations are going to keep us safe." 

The Timbers are scheduled to play three games in the group stage. The top two teams from the group will advance to the knockout stage. The championship is scheduled for August 11. So the Timbers could have some downtime if they make a deep tournament run.

"We try and keep our floor very private and only for us.  We have created different rooms in which they can at least go play games, Playstation, we have a ping pong table, we have a poker room, so we have areas where they can at least go and get out of the room," said Savarese. "We get to be among ourselves in a different environment, but still keeping things very safe. We have a lot of conversations. For the moment, everything has worked in the best possible situation, but also it's the first week."

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