With no set plan of how and when Major League Soccer will resume play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sporting Kansas City remains focused on what they can control.
SKC opened its training facilities for individual workouts when granted permission on May 6 and is diligently following the safety protocols the club set for itself. As of May 18, all players and a number of technical staff members have been tested for the virus. However, no results are being disclosed by the club.
Reports suggest that MLS will resume play in a single location, and Vermes is open to that idea.
“I know we are a league that speaks a lot about parity,” Vermes said during a conference call on Wednesday. “We truly have to get back on the field as fast as we can for so many reasons; we obviously have to do it in a safe way. I think the idea of going to a single location, if that’s what it is, I personally am all for it.”
The most regularly reported location for MLS to resume play is in Orlando, FL, with the idea proposed that the league will play in a round-robin style tournament starting in June. However, no official plan is in play that addresses how activities like training would work, creating challenges for all clubs.
“It is a huge undertaking. It is going to be pretty difficult,” Vermes said of the potential move to playing in Orlando. “I think all of us are going to have to keep an open mind that it is not going to be perfect. This will at least buy (MLS) some time to allow other cities to open up.”
Vermes expressed concerns about the potential play in Orlando but is ready to deal with the circumstances.
“A game is a game. I think the challenge for the teams is going to be the amount of time we have prior to the first game and getting the guys ready to participate in 90 minutes and in hotter weather,” Vermes said. “I think the change in the rule allowing for five subs is going to be a huge help in offsetting injuries.”
Vermes believes that all clubs would require at least 2-3 weeks of training upon arrival in Orlando in order to get match fit. Acknowledging that being match-ready would be difficult for some, Vermes thinks that SKC has an advantage, having played in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2019.
Sporting KC had similarly limited time to prepare to take on Liga MX side Toluca, which had already finished two-thirds of its season. With that experience under their belts, Vermes expressed confidence in SKC’s ability to do it once again, especially since all clubs would face the same conditions.
“The guys have a really good attitude,” Vermes said in a conference call with media on Wednesday. “In the days that they come here, they work really hard.
“What’s difficult is that when they have a good foundation of fitness, the other part is how fast does it translate into playing the game and when you are competing against somebody, and how fast is your recovery to go again.”
Vermes noted that the players try to converse with each other during the workouts from across the fields, labeling it “social islanding.”