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Orlando City players return to pitch for first day of individual training

Players returned to the team training facility in Kissimmee on Wednesday for the first time in almost two months.

Orlando City midfielder Uri Rosell performs a core exercise on the team field in Kissimmee. (Courtesy of Orlando City)

Orlando City players returned to the team’s training facilities in Kissimmee Wednesday, working out at the venue for the first time in almost two months.

It was the first day MLS allowed voluntary individual workouts on outdoor fields since the league mandated a shutdown in training sessions and matches in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Players wore masks upon arrival and whenever they were in the vicinity of teammates or other members of the staff. Each player was screened before moving to their assigned area of the field.

Captain Nani said the return to the pitch was a welcome change after weeks of trying to train at home.

“Today was a great experience,” Nani said. “We are happy and very pleased to be back in our training ground and be able to train, even if it’s individual training with some distance between the players. It was fun and it’s always nice to feel free again and touch the ball.”

Under the new MLS protocol, each field was divided into four quadrants. Players could not leave their assigned quadrant of the field, and they weren’t allowed to physically interact in any way, including passing the ball or trying to shoot the ball past anyone.

The team utilized the variety of fields available at the club’s training facility. Each player was assigned to one of three scheduling blocks throughout the day to divide up time on the field.

Although these workouts are voluntary under the league mandate, every Orlando City player opted to train on the pitch on Wednesday. That included designated player Dom Dwyer, who suffered a lower body injury at the start of the season that sidelined him from the first two matches before the coronavirus shutdown.

Coach Oscar Pareja said the time off helped Dwyer catch up with the rest of the team in his recovery process, and he is now “ready to go” whenever the Lions return to full-team training.

Players used foot ladders, hurdles, weights and other equipment to perform strength and cardio exercises. They also used their time on the field to get touches on the ball.

Midfielder Mauricio Pereyra acknowledged these exercises are only the start of rebuilding the team’s fitness, but they offered hope for the future.

“The body is feeling these 54 days without training, but I think the most important in this moment is the safety and then we’ll have the time to get in shape,” Pereyra said. “Of course it’s the first step, but we have a long way now. This is the beginning. We hope soon we can train with the full group.”

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