Beginning May 6, MLS clubs will be permitted to conduct individual workouts on outdoor team training fields. The workouts are voluntary and, while a small step, it's a step nonetheless towards normalcy.
Clubs have been planning for a return to training, from individually then small groups before normal sessions, during the time the league has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic with a training moratorium.
That moratorium is still in place through May 15.
"It's great that we can provide a controlled and safe environment for them," Houston Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos told reporters on a video conference call after the return to individual training was announced on Friday. "It's very important for us to get started, to see each other on the field though everyone will be far away. That'll be strange, but what hasn't been strange so far?"
The Dynamo will be ready for whatever comes next, whether that's and end of the team moratorium, potential progress to small groups or more time with individual workouts. From there on out, Ramos and his staff have an idea for what the players will need to be ready for competitive matches.
"We have a tiered plan," Ramos said. "We start with individuals then move into smaller groups, maybe three or four depending on what MLS tells us, before we move on to training. We would likely need four weeks training with the whole group before we feel comfortable to play games. Maybe a little less, maybe a little more, but that's what we want to get to."
Ramos is in his first season with the Dynamo after a long stint with the US U-20 national team. The club drew the LA Galaxy and lost to Sporting KC in his first two matches as an MLS head coach.
With the games and normal training on pause since mid-March, Ramos has taken the time to really get to know his players better. He is excited with the progress on that front, as well as the time that has allowed key attackers Alberth Elis and Darwin Quintero to recover from injuries.
"We're in a better place from a team standpoint, well because we'll have Alberth and Darwin when we start, but also the human aspect," Ramos said. "We're in a different place now than we were before, I think this is an advantage for us. I feel so much better as a new coach the way I know the players personally, their families and who they are than I did two months ago. When we come back, we'll be ready to go."