The MLS has taken the next step towards playing games.
One day after coming to an agreement with the MLSPA on a ratified CBA, avoiding a lockout in the process, the league announced Thursday it has lifted the team training moratorium implemented on March 12 due to COVID-19.
The decision paves the way for teams to return full team training: a crucial and mandatory step towards returning to the pitch to play games.
The MLS plans to begin with a tournament to be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, coincidentally the same location as the NBA season. Teams are expected to arrive in three weeks, per ESPN.
MLS teams have been running their players through individual drills since May 6, including the Portland Timbers who have been playing games since May 7.
With player safety at the forefront, the league requires frequent testing of all players including the following:
- All players will be completing a physical examination, and all players and staff must complete two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart, 72 hours prior to the start of training, and undergo one baseline antibody (serology) test.
- Players must be cleared to train by their medical staff and have PCR tests, taken every other day, come back negative during before participating in full team training.
- If a player or staff member tests positive, the individual will be isolated. The isolated individual will be tested again at least 24 hours later to ensure the result was not a false positive. All close contacts will be tested immediately. Contact tracing will be performed at the direction of the club’s COVID-19 task force and local authorities.
- A player or staff member that tests positive for COVID-19 may return to training only when cleared by the club’s Chief Medical Officer in consultation with the league medical team. The club’s Chief Medical Officer will also be responsible for clearing the attendance of any player or staff considered to be in a high-risk category for severe illness related to COVID-19.
- Once cleared, clubs will have the full use of their training facilities.
The training room, gyms and fitness areas will be restricted to no more than five individuals at any time while maintaining physical distancing standards. Those areas must be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected following every session in accordance with MLS protocols and all equipment and laundry must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fyre and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers.