Tormenta FC — along with every other team in USL League One — had waited nearly four months to begin a season that has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Less than 48 hours before Saturday's scheduled return to action against the Richmond Kickers, Tormenta learned that it would be forced to wait some more.
Late Thursday night, the team received the results of its latest round of tests, which players have been undergoing weekly since returning to practice. Two of the results came back positive.
"It's definitely unfortunate, but we'll get through it," team president Darin Van Tassell said. "The good news is that everyone is feeling fine. They're going to quarentine and we will work through this."
A press release from Tormenta stated that, "the decision to postpone the match was made out of an abundance of caution following the results of a July 7 test, which produced an initial unconfirmed positive COVID-19 case for two individuals on Tormenta FC’s 40-person covered list. Under the league’s health and safety protocols, clubs are tested on a weekly basis and the individuals involved have been placed in isolation, are recovering in good spirits under the care of team physicians and infectious disease experts, and all league, local and state safety protocols are being followed."
The current plan is to make up the game at some point. The USL has already had its scheule makers hard at work when an initial abbreviated 20-game season had to be chopped down to 16 when word came that Toronto FC II would not be able to compete due to complications of international travel.
Saturday's game was supposed to be one of two that Tormenta would play against Richmond, with the Statesboro squad scheduled to travel to Virginia in mid-September.
"It's tough because both teams were totally prepared and ready to play," Van Tassell said. "I want to thank Richmond. They have been understanding of the situation and are working hard to make sure that we will get this game in at some point."
While no Tormenta players are exhibiting any symptoms of the virus, there is also concern for the sort of emotional toll that is being taken out on them. Aside from previous injuries, no one on the squad — or any other club in USL League One for that matter — has ever gone this long without head-to-head competition.
A Thursday practice and subsequent media session was full of cheer as Tormenta players were thrilled to be just hours away from finally getting back to business. Instead, the team will be sitting at home tonight, the lights at Erk Russell Park unlit.
"This entire ordeal has brought a lot of maturity to the guys," Van Tassell said. "It has taken a lot for them to go through quarentine and staying prepared to play. And now this happens when we're about to get back out and play.
"This obviously isn't how we wanted this weekend to go, but we're going to press on. Whenever we're able to play a game, we're going to be ready to get the season started."
Information about the rescheduling of Saturday's match will be made available at TormentaFC.com as soon as it becomes available.