The coronavirus has put the sports world on hold.
Major League Soccer has suspended its regular season schedule until at least May 10. A training moratorium is in place through Friday, April 3. It feels like it's only a matter of time before the league pushes both dates further down the calendar. It brings new meaning to the term stoppage time. Nobody really knows when this will end.
MLS remains intent on playing a full season but is that realistically possible? Will teams return to work in six weeks or six months? Will there be another preseason to prepare for a restart? The playoffs were planned to begin in October and would end with MLS Cup on November 7. How far will the league go past its original schedule? What will be the impact on the 2021 season?
There are more questions than answers. Until there are more answers, it will be hard to forecast what the schedule looks like if — or when — MLS returns. What is certain is that the sooner teams can return to training, the better chance we have at seeing a full MLS season.
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With no clear return date in sight and training restrictions in place, how are the Revs dealing with the work stoppage? Players have been working out at home and have been given a training program to follow on a daily basis. The team has given each player a stationary bike to supplement whatever equipment players may have at home such as elastic bands and weights.
If or when the league gets back to business, would there be another preseason and how long would it be? Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena raised an interesting point about the challenges soccer players face compared to athletes in other sports when answering that question.
"I think the general rule is a month. You got to remember our sport is different than other sports. This confuses people in our own sport, whether it's ownership or league officials," Arena said. "Say hockey comes back. They can change their shifts from 25 seconds to 20 seconds to 15. Football can substitute more. Basketball can substitute more. They have different ways in their sport that they can adjust. We can't do that. Our players basically play 90 minutes. We have three substitutions. It's really challenging in our sport to bring a group back from an offseason. And this is almost comparable to an offseason."
While everyone waits for word on when things can get back to normal, players are having to think outside the box to stay fit and sharp while maintaining social distancing guidelines. It's not like they can walk into a gym or onto a field to replicate soccer-specific movements during these unprecedented times.
"That is probably the biggest challenge," said Revolution defender Seth Sinovic. "We are limited in the soccer-specific aspect of things. You can get creative. You can find different ways, different lifts, different cutting exercises, whether that be in-home or outside where there is more space to do something."
The Revolution's big offseason signing, Designated Player Adam Buksa, is making the best of a tough situation. The Polish striker is dedicated to making sure he's ready for a potential return.
"I'm not bored. That's for sure," Buksa said. "I train every day, three hours a day. The coaches have ordered us some trainings. We run. We do trainings for core, for upper body, also for legs. We try to go outside and in some spots where there are no people. So it's possible to be able to train without other people because I can not go on the pitch and play with other teammates. But I move a lot."
Making good use of his time doesn't end with training for Buska. The 23-year-old spends three to four hours per day studying things other than soccer, like finance and economics. As for Arena, he's finding some new hobbies of his own now that he has much more free time on his hands.
"I have been fond of jogging around the Seaport. I'm learning about downtown Boston a little bit on my jogs. I really enjoy that. That's my new hobby. I think this is tough on everyone. It's not easy. We are all biting at the bit and hopefully we can get back to work on a full-time basis."
And not working on soccer on a full-time basis has been tough for the entire team, as Buksa admits.
"I don't really have any particular hobby except soccer. I love soccer. I try to get used to living without soccer at the moment, which is not easy because I miss it very much. But there are plenty of other things to do, so I try to use this time to learn other things."
It sounds like Buksa needs a soccer fix and NBC Sports Boston will be able to help him and any other Revs supporter who is in the same boat.
Fans can re-live the club's magical run to MLS Cup with the classic playoff matchup against the New York Red Bulls in the 2014 Eastern Conference Championship. The first leg airs this Saturday, April 4 on NBC Sports Boston at 4 p.m., with the second leg airing the following Saturday, April 11 at 4 p.m.