There's still a long way to go before games are played, but June 4 has been a good day so far for sports fans clamoring for leagues to return to action.
Not only did the NBA and NHL both announce plans for playoff formats, MLS lifted the team training moratorium that began on March 12. Teams may now submit individual club plans for full team training, which must be approved by the club's medical staff and local infectious disease experts before MLS approves those plans.
While full team training will be mandatory, the Revs held voluntary small group training at the team's training facility Thursday. Revs in attendance included Matt Turner, Teal Bunbury, Andrew Farrell, Adam Buksa, Scott Caldwell, Diego Fagundez, and Carles Gil.
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"This has been a very difficult time with COVID-19 and the Governor has done a remarkable job in dealing with the safety and welfare of the citizens in Massachusetts," said Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena. "The state and local authorities have been outstanding. In a perfect world, we would have preferred to be on the field earlier, but we completely understand the issues involved and safety first."
“I most definitely think the Revolution organization and MLS have created an environment where I feel safe and the rest of the player pool feels safe," Bunbury added. "They’ve taken every measure. Our athletic trainer and fitness coaches have really been on top of everything, so it’s helpful for us knowing we want to continue to push ourselves, but also knowing that we’re staying safe.”
Small group training is a good first step back for the Revs, but everyone knows that there's a long way to go before the league can hold a tournament in the Orlando area later this summer.
"We’re not in touch with the other players because we’re not allowed to pass balls to each other, we’re not allowed to speak with each other so it’s a little different than it was in the beginning of the year," said Buksa. "But it’s very important that we have a chance to train on our pitches."
“It’s very different. It’s a very awkward protocol. I think it’s safe, well over-the-top, but as I mentioned with what the Governor has done, the league has done the same thing," Arena said. "They’re very cautious about not having teams jump into full training too soon. It’s safety first. We’re being smart about it. It’s a safe environment for the players, and that’s our number one priority.”
While safety might be the Revs' number one priority, increasing their fitness level is close behind, especially considering it's been almost three months since their last game.
“I think fitness-wise, I don’t think we’re game-fit yet. None of us," Fagundez said. "It’s hard to be game-fit when you’re at home for a month and a half and you’re not on the field playing around with your teammates. It’s two different kinds of fitness. We’re trying to get there. We’re building that. I know we can get there. It’s going to take a little bit of time. With the time we have right now until the season starts, I think we’re good to go.”
For Gil, the extended break gave him a chance to heal his injured foot which had kept him out of the preseason and the team's first two games of the season.
“Yes, it’s been good in the sense that my foot was able to recover," said Gil, "and I have a very good feeling that I’ll be able to be physical and put in hard work to find out if I’m 100 percent.”