Benny Feilhaber - Sporting Kansas City - Close up, solo
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How do MLS players stay fit in the winter? Star-studded pickup games

Just how do MLS players stay fit during the offseason?

For some, it’s an exercise in solitude, with individual players working out on their own to get ready for the start of preseason camp. Others get together to kick a ball around now and again, mixing in some actual soccer with their gym work to gear up for the new season.

One group of players took it to a new level this winter, however. Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel had the story on Monday, giving the details of the four-v-four indoor tournaments played by Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer, New York Red Bulls’ Sacha Kljestan, Orlando City SC’s Servando Carrasco, Stuart Holden and many other MLS players in Southern California this offseason.

It's a practice that's familiar to NBA fans, with basketball players playing in pickup games during their offseason, too, in what is now a well-known tradition. Could it be the new tradition for MLS players?

“You’d start of playing ‘first to five [goals]’ and then later you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, we just played for three hours,” Carrasco told Tenorio. “It was awesome to get in shape, the level was really high obviously. … It kind of takes you back to when you were 12, 13, 14 [years old] and you were just playing because you loved to play. It might sound corny, but we just wanted to play. We just loved to play. We knew the season was two months ahead and it just took off.”

The full story, which is well worth a read, includes the entire roster of MLS players who took part in the weeks-long run of games. Do yourself a favor, check it out.