The small step forward is a step forward nonetheless, as Nashville players have the opportunity to arrive at their training facility for the first time since mid-March when MLS was suspended and a training moratorium implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not one to get carried away, Nashville GM Mike Jacobs is quick to point out that this is just the start and there's a long way to go before playing games.
“It’s easy to get drunk off the whole euphoria as if we’re back, being the first sport to do this in our country, this is not a return to play just yet," Jacobs told reporters on a video call. "This is a return to training protocol that will allow our players the same workouts they were doing at parks [or home].”
Club captain Dax McCarty is excited to be back at the club's training facility, a place he calls one of the best in the league. He had been doing his remote workouts on public parks and fields, going to different places in the community, but he is looking forward to getting back to the team's pitch.
“There is a lot of cautious optimism and excitement that comes along with news like this," McCarty said. "It’s going to be interesting to see how it works out."
McCarty also added that the workouts at the team's facility will be different for each player, tailored for specific positions.
This first step toward normalcy and a future resumption of play is a key moment. And Jacobs is fully aware of the importance that MLS clubs execute a perfect plan at this stage.
“This is a critical stage not only for Nashville SC, but the entire league," Jacobs said.
The protocol for using the facility is extensive. Players arrive in the parking lot, have to space their cars out when they park then walk to get their temperature checked before entering the fields through hand washing and disinfectant stations.
“How well our players and staff execute this first phase we’re using as a league will be critical for us getting to stage two, small group training, then ultimately stage three, full team training," Jacobs said. "It’s really important to make sure our support staff is really buttoned up with protocols. I think we’re doing a good job of that.”