Major League Soccer teams are going to be able to get back to work soon, at least to some degree. The league announced on Friday that players can begin individual outdoor workouts at team training facilities while practicing coronavirus health and safety protocols beginning on Wednesday, May 6.
This means that Columbus Crew SC players can return to the team’s training facility beginning next Wednesday. While they will not have access to locker rooms, team gyms, and team training rooms, among other areas, this will help players who do not have the proper equipment or space at home to do workouts necessary to be prepared for the return to MLS play.
Below is the full release from Major League Soccer:
Major League Soccer today announced that as of Wednesday, May 6, players may begin to use outdoor team training fields for individual workouts, in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts. All individual workouts are voluntary and may not be in conflict with local public health official or government policies.
By allowing players, on a voluntary basis, to utilize team-operated fields for individual workouts, MLS clubs will be able to provide a controlled environment that ensures adherence to safety protocols and social distancing measures for players and staff.
The individual player workout protocol prohibits access to club facilities including but not limited to locker rooms, team gyms, and team training rooms. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s Chief Medical Officer.
Prior to initiating any individual player workouts, every team must submit to MLS a club-specific plan that outlines how the team will implement health and safety protocols, including:
Restricting training facility access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan.
Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.
Completion of a Standard Screening Assessment survey 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 the field, and again on return to the parking lot.
Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.
Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after individual workouts.
Clubs will have the use of the outdoor fields at their training facility, divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. A maximum of one player per quadrant may participate per training session with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.
An Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.
All plans must be reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff and local infectious disease expert before submitting to Major League Soccer. Every club will designate a member of the staff to oversee adherence to MLS-recommended protocols and club-specific implementation plan.
In addition, each club will also be responsible for confirming communication of these protocols to players and team staff.
The league-wide moratorium on small group and full team training remains in place through, and including, Friday, May 15.
MLS initially began postponing games on March 12 and has extended team training moratoriums periodically since that time. Teams will now not begin play until at least Jun 8. The Crew played two games at the start of the 2020 season before the coronavirus pandemic brought play to a halt. The Black & Gold defeated New York City FC 1-0 at home before traveling to the Seattle Sounders and returning with a 1-1 draw.
Since the pause in play, players have followed a team-released workout schedule in order to maintain as much fitness as possible. It is likely that there will need to be a multi-week preseason-type training period for players before any MLS games take place but no announcement on that has been made.