If you were waiting on some promising news during the league’s suspension from play due to the coronavirus pandemic, you might be in luck.
Major League Soccer today announced that as of next Wednesday, May 6, players may begin to use outdoor team training fields for individual workouts, in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts.
All individual workouts are voluntary and may not be in conflict with local public health official or government policies.
The league-wide moratorium on small group and full team training remains in place through, and including, Friday, May 15.
According to the league’s press release, by allowing players, on a voluntary basis, to utilize team-operated fields for individual workouts, MLS clubs will be able to provide a controlled environment that ensures adherence to safety protocols and social distancing measures for players and staff.
The individual player workout protocol prohibits access to club facilities including but not limited to locker rooms, team gyms, and team training rooms. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s Chief Medical Officer.
Clubs like FC Dallas still have some work to do before things can really get going for players though.
Prior to initiating any individual player workouts, every team must submit to MLS a club-specific plan that outlines how the team will implement health and safety protocols, including:
- Restricting training facility access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan.
- Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.
- Completion of a Standard Screening Assessment survey by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.
- Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.
- Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the field, and again on return to the parking lot.
- Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.
- Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after individual workouts.
- Clubs will have the use of the outdoor fields at their training facility, divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. A maximum of one player per quadrant may participate per training session with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.
- An Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.
All plans must be reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff and local infectious disease expert before submitting to Major League Soccer. Every club will designate a member of the staff to oversee adherence to MLS-recommended protocols and club-specific implementation plan.