For the first time in nearly three months, the New England Revolution took part in a regular, full-team training session. On the pitch, it was a very welcomed sense of normalcy.
Of course, there were considerable safety protocols the club and players had to execute just to be permitted to reunite on the field again. Players have been will continue to be regulary tested for COVID-19, and off the field there remain strict social distancing regulations.
But the normalcy of just participating in a session again, and the goal of being ready for MLS's return to play tournament in Orlando, is a big step.
“The first day of training was good," head coach Bruce Arena said afterward. "You can’t expect too much on day one, but we have approximately four weeks to get our team ready for real competition. We’re going to work hard and get there, but I was impressed with the effort to day.”
The players, who were doing individual workouts at home for the majority of the break before returning for voluntary individual training at team facilities, began to shake off some rust on Monday.
"We’re excited to be together again. The fact that we’re back to full training, it’s a sign that things are getting better and improving. That’s something to be excited about," Carles Gil told MLSsoccer.com through a translator.
Gil added he feels physically fit and enjoyed getting back to training after missing the entire preseason as well as the club's first two matches of 2020 with a foot injury. New signing Alexander Buttner said the team worked in small games, crossing drills and more on their first day back.
"This might be a defender’s answer but I missed competing the most," Henry Kessler said. "Battling with guys. That’s probably what I missed most. You can kick a ball around, still try to do technical stuff, but competing against another guy – that’s something we didn’t have. I think that’s what I missed the most."
Added Buttner: "Finally we can play football with each other again. It was a long time we had to train by ourselves, but finally we are back.”