Health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic share their biggest struggles and concerns in the fight.


Wearing masks as they got out of their cars in the parking lot, some Major League Soccer players got back to work Wednesday, with a temperature check awaiting them before they were allowed to step on their quadrant of the field.

Wednesday was the first day MLS teams were cleared to begin voluntary individual workouts at team facilities under a set of health and safety protocols. The league suspended training and matches on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, Inter Miami CF and Atlanta United were the first four teams to open their facilities to players Wednesday. 

For Sporting KC captain Matt Besler, it was business as usual despite the circumstances. 

“I wasn’t apprehensive at all,” Besler said on a call with reporters Wednesday. “It was mostly excitement to be able to have this opportunity.”

After weeks of players training at home or in parks, several players and coaches acknowledged this is the first step of a gradual process. Besler said he thought teams would need three to four weeks of full team training to be ready for the season. Matches have been suspended until at least June 8.

In Nashville, which opens up its facility Thursday, general manager Mike Jacobs said players will be assigned one-hour training sessions, tailored to their position. Each player will also have one quadrant of the field to themselves.

Players are required to park three spaces away from other vehicles. All participants will be issued masks and gloves before entering a sanitation station, where their temperatures will be taken. Players will dispose their masks and gloves before training and will receive another pair during a second round of testing before leaving the facilities.

Jacobs said he’s pleased with welcoming players back but is focused on the bigger picture — how Nashville safely returns to full training sessions in preparation for matches.

“This is stage one of this first phase — which we’re using as a term for our return to training protocol — and will be critical in our ability to get stage two, small-group workouts. And eventually stage three, when we return to team workouts,” Jacobs said.

“If we have any hiccups, the chances are we’d actually be further back (than the first phase) in our ability to return to get engaged in the field. So this is a really critical stage, not only for Nashville SC, but for the whole league.”

FC Cincinnati is among the teams waiting to get clearance from government authorities before reopening. The club must also get clearance from the league on its plans.

Coach Yoann Damet said a task force has been working on the team’s plans to reopen for a couple of days and he hopes details will be finalized and approved soon.

“Everybody knows what it is to stay home and not be able to see people,” said Damet. “I think all the guys coming to the facilities, seeing each other from afar is the first step forward. I think that feeling of human relationship even if it’s with social distancing I think is a good step forward because we are spending so much time together during a normal season.”

Contributing: Adam Baum of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Nancy Armour of USA TODAY


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