Major League Soccer's tournament plan like a 'luxurious prison' - Union's Bedoya

Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya likened Major League Soccer's reported plans for a tournament in Orlando to restart the season to living in a "luxurious prison."

MLS suspended play on March 12 as the coronavirus pandemic began to affect cities throughout North America. However, ESPN sources recently said that the league was eyeing June 1 as the date for players and coaches to arrive at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando to begin group training.

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Once players were fit, all 26 teams would compete in a tournament format, playing meaningful games without fans and eventually crowning a winner -- a process that could see teams away from their homes for eight and 10 weeks.

That idea didn't sit well with Bedoya, who poked numerous holes in the plan during an interview with ESPN's Taylor Twellman that aired Wednesday.

"I would start off by saying that I think every one of us agree that we want to get back to playing," Bedoya said. "I want to get back out there, being competitive, [playing] games. The staff wants to be out there, fans want to be watching games, but I will say that this all feels a little bit rushed.

"I think that we all need to be partners in this, you know, ESPN and Disney, which owns ESPN, is just partnering with MLS to help the owners out and to show games. I think the players are taking all the risks by going down [to Orlando], being isolated, it's a strong term to say, but it's like being in a luxurious prison."

Bedoya was not alone in his criticism of the plan, with Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha calling the idea "short-sighted" and even suggested that keeping players away from families and friends during this global crisis could be a mental health risk.

"For me personally I can talk bigger picture, but if I were to talk about how it would affect me, it's not something that I would like to do," Onuoha said. "Like I understand financially, it's maybe something that would benefit the owners, benefit the league and so on, but this time here it's really highlighted mental health and what things are like at home and so on.

"The past two months, you've been at home and people have still struggled. So now to suggest that the best option would be to take all these players, without their families, without their friends, without the things that are really comforts to them, and put them in a place for the purpose of entertainment or the financial side of it seems short-sighted."

Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes took a different view of the tournament idea, though, saying he felt the No. 1 priority was to get back to playing, even if it wasn't under ideal conditions.

"Look, without having anything else, we need to get back to playing games," Vermes said. "It's the best competition that we have available to us, so we have to embrace it and go play.

"Great, we have group games and they all mean something toward our regular season. It's not going to be perfect for everyone and I'm talking about the individual teams and the competitive aspect. Meaning some teams are going to say, 'hey I had to do this' or 'I had to play at this time or that time.'

"We're all just going to have to accept it and we're going to have to get on with it and we're going to have to play."

Player buy-in is not the only problem with MLS' proposed return, as testing for COVID-19 would present a significant challenge. Not only would players, coaches and support staff have to be tested, but presumably so would hotel staff. Family members wouldn't be allowed to travel with the teams.

The biggest challenge of all would be what contingency plans would be in place, should someone connected to MLS test positive. Sources told ESPN that those plans have yet to be communicated to all stakeholders.

Finally, the league and players have not reached an agreement over pay cuts, with the two sides going back and forth over how compensation will play out if and when the season resumes.

ESPN's Jeff Carlisle contributed to this story.