Professional soccer players have plenty of down time in their day-to-day lives, but rarely have a stretch of true off days during the season.
This week, though, will be a break for the Chicago Fire. As the Copa America kicks off Friday, the Fire will get a rare in-season week off.
Major League Soccer is taking a break for the tournament contested between national teams from North and South America. No Fire players are participating in the tournament.
Not only does the team not play again until June 15, but the team will not train again until Monday, June 6.
“We want our guys to recover well and start the second part of the season in the best possible performance,” coach Veljko Paunovic said after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Portland. “They will have a fitness plan during this time.”
This is a change of pace from the team’s earlier bye weeks where Paunovic said those were a chance to work on the team’s fitness. This time around the Paunovic is using it as a chance to give the players a restart before getting back to work.
“I think it’s good for us to get a little bit of time off,” midfielder Matt Polster said. “We still have a fitness packet to do and we have to maintain our fitness over the week. I think the guys need to take a little break. When you can, you take it. I think that’s huge for us so when we come back we’re much hungrier to get the next three points.”
The Fire have a longer break than most of MLS. There are three league matches Wednesday and three more on Thursday before the whole league breaks. In addition, the three Canadian MLS teams are playing in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
That means the Fire are one of just five MLS teams to get a slightly earlier, longer break for the Copa America.
The Fire return to action in the U.S. Open Cup. They will play against the winner of the Indy Eleven-Louisville City match, which will be played on Wednesday. If Louisville wins the Fire will travel for the June 15 fourth round match. If Indy wins, the match will be at Toyota Park.