Major League Soccer announced the return of individual player workouts today. Beginning Wednesday, May 6, players can begin to use outdoor team training fields once more. It’s the first positive sign that we may get a 2020 season just yet — at least in some form.
These individual player workouts are voluntary and cannot operate in opposition to local public or government policies. According to the announcement, the workouts must also comply with extremely detailed protocols for the health and safety of everyone involved in the operations. All protocols were developed with the consultation of medical and infectious disease experts.
At this point in time, the goal of opening up the facilities for individual player workouts has less to do with club training or maintenance and more to do with providing a controlled environment for players and personnel to get back to work. Team-operated facilities will ensure social distancing measures and all other safety protocols are fully maintained.
One of the key points regarding the return of individual player workouts, however, is that no players will be allowed to use indoor facilities such as gyms, locker rooms and training rooms. The only exception to these stringent guidelines are players receiving rehab and other post-op care and treatment, which must be approved and overseen by each club’s Chief Medical Officer.
Before any of the individual player workouts can proceed, every club needs to provide a specific plan as to how they will implement and adhere to all mandated health and safety protocols. Per Major League Soccer, these club-specific plans must address a number of concerns.
MLS Protocols for Individual Player Workouts
- 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.
Per the league, the plans need to be approved by two parties, the club’s medical staff and a local infectious disease expert, before being reviewed by Major League Soccer authorities. Additionally, every club must appoint someone on their staff to ensure the plans are being adhered to.
Currently there is no new news regarding the moratorium on small group and full team training, which are both prohibited through Friday, May 15.
The MLS postponement for COVID-19 came the morning after the NBA officially suspended its season. The NBA was in the final stretch of their regular season when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after jokingly touching every microphone during a press conference with the media.
Prior to the MLS postponement, two matches had already been postponed in response to measures being taken to contain COVID-19. Seattle and San Jose, two of the areas currently being hit the hardest by the spread of the virus, posted their matches set for March 21 in compliance with local measures.
LAFC set up a page dedicated to COVID-19 to address concerns and answer questions fans may have. Tom Penn, LAFC President and Owner, has left a message atop the page to supporters.
A MESSAGE FROM LAFC PRESIDENT & OWNER, TOM PENN:
To the members and supporters of Los Angeles Football Club, we send out heartfelt wishes and good thoughts to you, your family, your friends, and all of the Los Angeles community.
We love LAFC because it represents our love for Los Angeles and we have a responsibility and an opportunity to work together, stick together, help one another, and get through these unprecedented times.
Let’s be safe, clean, and careful. Let’s stay connected and supportive of one another. We will get through this together and come out on the other side in support of our Club and our city.