Major League Soccer’s proposal to locate all 26 teams in Orlando for training and the resumption of its suspended season progressed Wednesday, but many logistical and vital safety details must be decided before games are played without spectators during this coronavirus pandemic.
The league presented the concept to its players on a Wednesday call, according to a league source with knowledge of the matter.
The Washington Post on Monday reported MLS players, coaches and support staff — more than 1,000 people — would live under quarantine without their families at a large resort near Walt Disney World for an undetermined length of time.
Teams would practice and play primarily at ESPN Wide World of Sports, a 17-field facility. The Disney-owned sports cable network is one of MLS’ broadcast partners.
Regular testing among players and coaches for the virus are among the many issues that will need to be resolved. The safety of hotel and stadium employees, bus drivers, security, TV crews and media must be protected as well, the Post said.
MLS suspended its season March 12 because of the pandemic after its first two games were played. Nine teams began voluntary individual workouts on consecutive days last week where state officials and orders allowed.
Most Minnesota United players went back to work Tuesday at their Blaine training facility on two fields each divided into quadrants. That allowed eight players at a time to work on their skills for nearly an hour physically distanced from each other.
Loons veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay called that first day a “good start” on the way back to small-group training and then full team training before games can be played again.
Players likely will need three to four weeks of training before they are fit to play games again.
Loons midfielder Jacori Hayes said he felt in “pretty good shape” during Tuesday’s workout. He and his teammates worked out as much as they could while being isolated at home these last two months. But he noted the difference between workouts and game shape.
“I couldn’t do 90 minutes tomorrow if you asked me,” Hayes said. “There’s a difference.”
Whenever games resume, they will be played without spectators.
“It’ll just be different,” Loons striker Mason Toye said recently. “Fans, that’s what you dream about when you’re a little kid. You think of packed stadium and playing in front of fans, feeding off their energy and giving your energy to them.
‘‘That back-and-forth is so special. But it’s what the times are giving us.”