When news broke Friday that MLS players are permitted to conduct individual workouts at outdoor team training fields beginning May 6, Real Salt Lake general manager Elliot Fall sensed the excitement from players.
After nearly two months away from the club’s training facility in Herriman, Utah during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ll trade at-home workouts for outdoor ones in a controlled setting. The full team training moratorium is currently set to run through May 15.
“As we all know with professional athletes, they like to push the limits,” Fall told reporters in a conference call. “So, it's important that we provide an environment where we're controlling it and not allowing that to occur as well. But, yes, they're certainly excited, the players want to be back.”
The workout details are still being finalized, but several league-wide guidelines are in place. They include designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles, temperature checks upon arrival and hand-washing and disinfectant stations.
The fields will be divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field, and there’s no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players. Given those restraints, Fall said the sessions will likely be fitness-based.
“I do think it'll be some on-the-ball stuff, allowing the players to get some touches in, but at the end of the day the players, they can't be playing balls to each other,” Fall said. “So, it's going to have to be stuff that they can do on their own.”
This step isn’t quite full steam ahead, but Fall views it as an important one for all MLS clubs. With uncertainty clouding the world in a larger sense, players and coaches will feel slightly at home.
“I think there's a real benefit to getting players back to the facility in any capacity, because I think, like all of us, we're all looking for some level of normalcy and life to get back to some semblance of what our reality used to be,” Fall said. “Even if it's a very regimented version of that, it will be nice to do that."