Photo Coverage: MLS Pro Players Train With Their Teams
MLS lifts team training moratorium in effect since March 12 due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, however, all clubs must follow a strict schedule of testing to return to full team training
Great news in the soccer world. Major League Soccer (MLS) today lifted the team training moratorium which had been in place since March 12.
MLS clubs may now return to first-team training — upon submission and approval of individual club plans
The players, coaches, and staff are thrilled to see football coming back. It was a very tough time for everyone and it may be a long road until games are played in packed stadiums with cheering fans, but today’s announcement is a hugely positive step for soccer in America.
To come back and smell the grass again … it is the best feeling.New York City FC’s Heber – Brazilian hotshot who claimed 2019 Newcomer of the Year
Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes believes this an exciting time and looks forward to getting to the point where players can start being competitive and playing against each other. “The guys are very excited,” said Vermes. The team was training in small groups and Vermes said, “It was a good day. The players must start playing balls with each other, and the timing is off with a lot of guys, but we are going to keep working towards it and hopefully every day we are going to get better and better.”
“There is only so much you can do individually with a soccer ball. Soccer is a team game, and you teammates to be able to move off of and play with,” said Sporting Kansas City‘s captain Matt Besler who has played 12 seasons for his hometown club. “We are a possession team, so that means we need to start passing the ball to each other.”
Sounders FC‘s Jordan Marsh agrees. “I know the players are excited to get back and have games to look forward to,” said Jordan Marsh. “Obviously there will not be fans in the stadiums and that is the right call … keeping everyone safe is the top priority. Everyone has done a great job putting a plan together and it just exciting to be back on the field.”
At FC Cincinnati‘s small group training, Andrew Gutman said, “It felt really good and it feels more and more and more normal with every day. We have a new manager coming in, it is kind of like a clean slate for everyone. We are excited for the future.
“If we can go down to Florida and get good results, it puts in a great position for the rest of the year.”Andrew Gutman – FC Cincinnati
The protocols are detailed and strict, even including the specific distance that must be maintained between players and staff while eating.
The complex process is worth it — to get everyone back on the field and be able to resume the season while minimizing the unprecedented risk of spreading the pandemic within the club as well as their communities. This necessary step signals the beginning of a return to match play.
MLS Clubs Can Return to Full Team Training only with strict safety protocols.
In order to maintain a safe environment for all players and staff, individual club plans must remain in compliance with local health and government policies and adhere to detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts, including:
The individual MLS club plans will be reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff as well as local infectious disease expert(s) prior to submission to the league for approval.
The MLS team training moratorium is still in effect for all MLS club academy teams.
Earlier today, the MLS released a press statement with these requirements.
MLS Teams Required Coronavirus Testing:
- Players must complete a physical examination, and all players and staff must complete two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart, 72 hours prior to the start of training, and undergo one baseline antibody (serology) test.
- Players will be cleared to train by their medical staff only after they have successfully completed their interim physical, completed two negative PCR tests and the serology test.
- Players, coaches, and select staff must complete PCR tests every other day and only those with negative results will be allowed to attend training.
- Serology testing will be performed once every three months.
- Individual club test providers must be authorized by the FDA and Health Canada. Turnaround time for tests must be no more than 24 hours.
- If a player or staff member tests positive, the individual will be isolated.
- The isolated individual will be tested again at least 24 hours later to ensure the result was not a false positive.
- All close contacts will be tested immediately.
- Contact tracing will be performed at the direction of the club’s COVID-19 task force and local authorities.
- A player or staff member that tests positive for COVID-19 may return to training only when cleared by the club’s Chief Medical Officer in consultation with the league medical team.
- Any player or staff considered to be in a high-risk category for severe illness related to COVID-19 will not be permitted to participate in team training unless cleared by the club’s Chief Medical Officer.
MLS Teams Requirements Regarding Facilities and Equipment Use:
- Clubs will have the full use of their training facilities.
- Entry points should remain open to avoid repeated contact with doorknobs or door exit bars.
- The training room, gyms, and fitness areas will be restricted to no more than five individuals at any time while maintaining physical distancing standards.
- Clubs should use multiple dressing rooms and assign players to the same dressing room for each training session. Individual lockers should be spaced at least 10 feet apart.
- The training room, gyms, and fitness areas, as well as dressing rooms and showers, must be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected following every session in accordance with MLS protocols.
- All equipment and laundry must be cleaned and disinfected after each use and in accordance with MLS and EPA protocols.
- Clubs must provide individual hydration bottles to players at all times. Communal water or hydration devices are strictly prohibited.
- Only individual, prepackaged meals and individually wrapped utensils may be provided to players and staff. Players and staff must maintain 10 feet of physical distancing while eating.
MLS Player and Staff Safety Processes:
- Individual club plans must include an Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.
- Training access is restricted to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the individual club plan.
- Completion of a Standard Screening questionnaire by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.
- Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.
- Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to his designated position on the field or gym. Players should keep their facemask on when in the training room.
- Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment at all times, including throughout training.
- Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after sessions.