FAIRFAX, Va. – Montreal Impact left-back Daniel Lovitz had a week to wrestle with the idea. It’s still hitting home for the San Jose Earthquakes’ Jackson Yueill and Nick Lima.
For all three of those players, who were among those assembled for US national team training on Tuesday ahead of Friday's Concacaf Nations League match against Cuba at Audi Field (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN), the question still isn’t quite answered.
After their current international commitments end, how will MLS players who didn’t reach the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs make sure they’re still match-fit when the November international window arrives?
“That’s something that I’m looking at right now, and speaking to my agent and the club in Montreal,” Lovitz told MLSsoccer.com. “Making sure that the staff here are aware of the situation and trying to find a solution that fits best for everybody.
“It’s something that I’m taking very seriously and looking at a bunch of different options, being able to make sure that this little flex period is something that I can use to my advantage," he added.
MLS teams eliminated from the postseason generally continue training for a few weeks before they break for the offseason, and that will be the case in San Jose. And when that ends, Lima suggested US players from different clubs that are sitting out the postseason might find a way to solve the problem together.
“I think we’ll figure it out in the next couple weeks,” Lima told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ll be training when we get back, immediately. And then there will be groups. There’s other guys in the situation, too. So it will be a collective effort.”
The Columbus Crew’s Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes are already in the same boat as Lovitz, Lima and Yueill. Simple math means more will soon join as teams are knocked out in Round one of the playoffs on October 19 and October 20.
If the Seattle Sounders’ Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan move on, they’ll be sending FC Dallas’ Reggie Cannon home, and vice versa. Same for the Philadelphia Union’s Brenden Aaronson and New York Red Bulls’ Aaron Long. Or Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley and D.C. United winger Paul Arriola.
Everyone not playing for one of the two MLS Cup finalists will see their club season wrapped up before the end of October.
“Obviously the best-case scenario would be to finish MLS Cup and transition straight into that. But I don’t have that luxury,” Lovitz said. “And I’m just kind of looking forward to getting through these results and get two good results with the team and contribute, and be able to stay fit and move forward.”
Yueill is still learning the ropes of international duty in his third full international camp. He’ll tackle the fitness question when it ends, and instead use the call-up as an opportunity to quell the emotions of the Quakes’ late slide out of the playoff places.
“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t make it further in the season,” Yueill told MLSsoccer.com. “But I think overall, [from] what we did last year to this year, I think everyone is very impressed with what we were able to do. So definitely being in camp eases the mind a little bit more.”