Major League Soccer granted permission to all clubs to begin using team facilities for individual workouts starting Wednesday, the league’s first step toward a gradual return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The workouts cannot conflict with any local or state government health policies.
Players will be allowed to practice on team fields as long as they are outdoor and following health guidelines. The league also released a detailed protocol that must be followed throughout workouts.
“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 league said in a statement.
Athletes will not be able to access indoor facilities such as locker rooms and weight rooms.
Clubs will be required to divide their fields into four quadrants, with only one player allowed in each quadrant at any given time. Players will not be allowed to share balls during these training sessions, which will eliminate any passing or shooting drills.
Before a team can begin its individual training sessions, a club must submit a plan to the league. That plan must include protocol for issues such as how to restrict facility access to essential staff and how to sanitize equipment and spaces, including balls, cones and goals.
Players will have to perform a Standard Screening Assessment before utilizing the facility, which will include a check of their temperature to ensure possibly infected players aren’t using the fields. Teams will also need to create a schedule that allows for staggered arrival to the team facilities to avoid any contact between players or coaches.
Staff and players will be expected to use protective equipment and hand washing and disinfectant stations must be installed.
Clubs also must develop a COVID-19 emergency action plan and assign a staff member to oversee implementation of MLS safety requirements.
The MLS small group and full team training moratorium will continue through at least May 15.