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FC Cincinnati's Tommy McCabe outlines the toughest part of MLS season suspension

For FC Cincinnati defender Mathieu Deplagne, one of the hardest parts about the COVID-19 pandemic is the moving goalposts of when MLS could return.

On Tuesday, the league issued a statement calling it "extremely unlikely" that play will resume in mid-May. The training moratorium, extended several times, has been implemented through April 24.

“When you're in the week you have the objective of the weekend, of the game and everything,” Deplagne told reporters on a conference call. “You have objectives short-term and long-term. Now long-term we don't know when, so the most difficult [part] is to stay motivated even if we don't know we're going to come back on the field.”

Professional soccer players, just like any profession, crave dates to shape their preparation. But as they now workout at home and participate in Zoom calls to review tactics, the finality element is lacking.

FC Cincy midfielder Tommy McCabe stressed how odd that’s been, knowing that a second preseason of sorts is likely before the 2020 season resumes.

“Right now, we're not building to a certain date that we know on paper will be when we start back up again,” McCabe said. “So, that's the toughest part. You have to be ready because that date could come whenever they say it is.”

Both players acknowledged the greater public-health risks shaping life around them, as the United States surpassed 600,000 recorded cases of COVID-19 and 26,061 related deaths on Tuesday according to data from The New York Times. But they also see hope when looking at the broader soccer world, particularly in Europe.

Bundesliga side Bayern Munich have returned to training that’s mindful of social distancing practices, and others chase similar glimmers of hope.

“For me, it's mentally reassuring to see teams in Europe go back to training, even if it's small groups right now,” McCabe said. “Then you know that's a possibility soon for us as well hopefully." 

But with the second month of isolation now underway, McCabe and Deplagne acknowledged the challenges. Mentally, the situation can take a toll as dates get pushed back and uncertainty clouds everything.