On April 21, the United States Soccer Federation announced they would be traveling to Puerto Rico for the first ever friendly between the two countries. While Puerto Rico is technically a territory of the USA, they still boast their own national teams in many sports.
There's an on-going situation in the island country regarding the Zika virus. It's so concerning that Major League Baseball announced on Friday that they are relocating a two-game series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins that was scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico on May 30-31.
The USMNT's pre-Copa America friendly in Bayamón, Puerto Rico is scheduled to take place on May 22. U.S. Soccer's Chief Medical Officer, George Chiampas, told NBC Sports a day after the initial announcement of the friendly that they are keeping an eye on the Zika situation.
"The safety of our athletes and staff is always the highest priority and we are taking all necessary precautions in regard to the Zika virus," Chiampas said. "We have been closely monitoring the situation in collaboration with the CDC, IOC and USOC and will provide the most up to date information to our athletes and staff."
-Georga Chiampas; Source: NBC Sports
You have to wonder if MLB canceling their trip to Puerto Rico will add additional pause within the USSF. Why risk taking your players there right before a big international tournament?
The risk of contracting the virus there and bringing it back to the U.S. is there according to the CDC in an official travel notice. Mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus has been reported in Puerto Rico.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had this to say in a team statement about the situation after MLB canceled their proposed games.
"We are saddened by the circumstances in Puerto Rico and elsewhere that led to this decision. We are hopeful that the public health institutions can quickly eradicate the health risks that are regrettably affecting the Puerto Rican people. We look forward to an opportunity in the near future to return to Puerto Rico to play before the great Pirates fans who were so excited for these games."
We'll see if U.S. Soccer is as worried about the situation in Puerto Rico as the warm-up friendly approaches within the next two weeks.