Inter Miami starters Gonzalo Higuain and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez will not play in Friday night’s MLS Cup playoff match against Nashville SC due to positive tests for COVID-19, a source confirmed to ESPN.
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Higuain’s brother, Federico, is one of five Miami players who have tested positive since the start of November, and he also won’t play. A source with knowledge of the situation said the last positive test of a Miami player came in the most recent Sunday/Monday testing period.
League sources said the game is still scheduled to go ahead as planned.
The Miami Herald was the first to report the news.
The loss of Gonzalo Higuain and Gonzalez Pirez is a massive blow to a Miami team that didn’t clinch the Eastern Conference’s 10th and final playoff spot until the last day of the regular season. Gonzalez Pirez’s absence in particular will be felt, given that he is the leader of the Miami defense. The extensive experience of Higuain, a former Argentina international who has played for the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, will also be missed.
Earlier this week, sources told ESPN that if a team wasn’t able to play due to a COVID-19 outbreak and if the game couldn’t be rescheduled, then that team would have to forfeit.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that after consulting with its medical experts, MLS determined that since at least four days had elapsed since the most recent positive Miami test, the game could go ahead.