Major League Soccer took a big step towards returning to play on Thursday by lifting the moratorium on full team training, but this is hardly a return to normal. Teams will be allowed to hold full practice sessions provided they meet a specific set of criteria.
First and foremost, every player will need to have a physical examination, two seperate COVID-19 tests 72 hours apart, and undergo an antibody test before they can take part in practices. Players will be cleared when they pass the physical, test negative in both COVID-19 tests, and undergo the antibody test, which does not have to come back positive.
Players and coaches will continue to be tested every other day after returning and undergo an antibody test every three months. A positive COVID-19 test will send a player into isolation for at least 24 hours, when they will be tested again. Their isolation continues if that second test is positive and all clos contacts will be tested immediately.
Once cleared, players and coaches will have full access to all team training facilities, provided they adhere to another set of specific criteria. Maintain proper social distancing outside of on-field practices is paramount, with staggered arrival times and designated parking spaces designed to maintain social distancing when arriving to the facility. Players will have to wear masks any time they are at team facilities and not participating in on-field training or in the gym and teams will provide each player with their own water bottle. Coaches must wear masks at all times, even during training sessions.
All locker room facilities will be cleaned and disinfected after every session and meals will be pre-packaged and eaten with pre-wrapped utensils only. Only essential staff will be allowed to each session and each club will specify which staff are allowed in their own designed action plan.
MLS and the MLS Players’ Union came to an agreement for a restart of the season on Wednesday when they ratified a their new collective bargaining agreement. All 26 teams will play a tournament in Orlando, Florida beginning in July.