Major League Soccer could be back in action as soon as the end of June with a tournament in Orlando involving all of its 26 teams, according to multiple reports Wednesday. The league’s proposed competition, which would need to be approved by the MLS Players Association, would have players and coaches assemble at ESPN’s Wide…
Major League Soccer could be back in action as soon as the end of June with a tournament in Orlando involving all of its 26 teams, according to multiple reports Wednesday.
The league’s proposed competition, which would need to be approved by the MLS Players Association, would have players and coaches assemble at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex for 3-4 weeks of training on June 1. Then a series of matches would be help without fans and take place at the Orlando complex.
The LAFC and the Galaxy, are among a few teams — including Earthquakes in Northern California — that have yet to be cleared to hold workouts because of stringent shelter-in-place orders in their area due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ESPN reported obstacles will need to be overcome for the plan to come to fruition, most notably with testing. Players, coaches and support staff would all need to regularly tested. The league’s plan would prohibit family members from traveling with teams.
In addition, the players association and the league are currently involved in sensitive negotiations over salary cuts. Owners have asked that all players agree to a 20 percent salary reduction, among other concessions.
There hasn’t been an indication yet whether the tournament games would count toward the regular season standings or not. The tournament winner’s prize could be a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, according to ESPN.
The league’s proposed tournament would have teams divided into groups, followed by five games in group play. Then a knockout stage will follow, that would include consolation games so all teams played the same amount of games.
oronto FC GM Ali Curtis said on Friday that he is hoping that TFC players can begin individual training at the BMO Training Ground as early as Monday.
“Should we have approval from appropriate government authorities and MLS, we’ll be ready to go,” Curtis told the Toronto Sun on Friday.
On Wednesday, Major League Soccer opened the door to individual player workouts outdoors at team training fields but only under strict guidelines, including social distancing. TFC officials first have to gain clearance from all three levels of government before they can give the players the green light to begin individual training at the Downsview training site. All three levels of government in Canada have posted lock downs because of the current COVID 19 crisis. The City of Toronto declared a state of emergency on March 23. A number of MLS clubs have already begun training at their respective training grounds including: Atlanta, Colorado, Inter Miami, Los Angeles FC, Nashville, Orlando City, Portland, Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC.
This week, MLS commissioner Don Garber told Nashville SC television that the league’s thinking regarding how to return to the field this year has evolved in the last month, making him more hopeful that the league will come up with a way for the 2020 season to be played.
“We’re more optimistic about what a return to play plan could look like,” Garber said. “I think a month ago we were very pessimistic. I think our country has done a pretty good job of flattening the curve, which is what the objective was. We need to be mindful of and focused on continuing to follow local guidelines because flattening the curve requires us all to be very focused and committed to all the guidelines local health authorities set out. So I would say we’re cautiously optimistic.”
MLS suspended the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, closing all team facilities. A league-wide moratorium on team training remains in effect May 15 and it’s unclear when the season might resume. TFC played two regular season games before the 2020 season was suspended, opening the schedule with a 2-2 draw at San Jose on Feb. 29 and defeating New York City FC 1-0 in their home opener last Saturday at BMO Field.
A number of the world’s top soccer leagues are getting ready to return to action as various lock downs are being eased. The Bundesliga will return on May 16 and the German Football Association (DFL) hope to complete the season by June 30.
Major League Soccer is allowing players to return to outdoor team training fields for individual workouts starting Wednesday.
MLS suspended the season because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12, closing all team facilities but asking players to remain in market with their teams. The league-wide moratorium on group and team training remains in effect through May 15.
MLS says the individual workouts must follow certain health and safety protocols. The workouts are voluntary and must also follow local public health and government policies.
MLS teams must submit a specific plan for training protocols before players are allowed to start workouts. They will include restricting facilities to essential staff, sanitizing and disinfection of all equipment after each session, screening measures including temperature checks, and staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, as well as designated parking that ensures proper distancing.
Players are still not allowed access to indoor facilities, such as locker rooms.
Players must wear personal protective equipment upon arriving and departing from the fields, while staff will be required to use such equipment — masks and gloves — at all times. Staff must also maintain a distance of 10 feet from players at all times.
Practice fields can be divided into four quadrants, allowing multiple players to train, but only under guidelines that restrict contact and ensure social distancing.
Team plans must be approved by team medical staffs and a local infectious disease expert and must be submitted to MLS and communicated to players.
Teams must also have emergency plans in place for any coronavirus-related issues that might come up, including positive tests.
The BMO Training Ground is off limits to most Toronto FC players in the wake of the COVID 19 outbreak, but team captain Michael Bradley has been haunting the place, so to speak. As per a directive issued by Major League Soccer, players undergoing rehab for serious injuries are allowed to access their club’s training facility, so Bradley and club physiotherapist Shohei Miyauchi have been working on the veteran midfielder’s training and rehab most days. The good news is, Bradley, who underwent surgery on Jan. 21 in New York City to fix loose cartilage fragments (and to fix an osteochondral defect) in his right ankle joint, is doing well.. “I haven’t missed a beat, so that part’s been great,” Bradley said in a conference call. “And yes, I am running, so we’ll continue to progress in terms of speed and volume and all those things. So that’s positive. (And) I’ve got a little home gym set up in my basement that is pretty good and pretty functional in terms of most things that you need.” The original prognosis was that Bradley would be out of action until June — meaning that the seventh-year TFC standout would have missed up to 20 regular season MLS games. But with the league suspended indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it turns out that the number of games he will ultimately miss will be far fewer. When MLS resumes play (league officials are working on a number of scenarios based on when city, provincial and state lock downs are relaxed), Bradley will most likely be ready to play — as will newly signed winger Pablo Piatti who, like Bradley, missed the first two games of the season because of injury. More…. Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley says injury rehab going well, unwilling to readdress controversies — Toronto Sun
Marshall Leonard remains a capable defender in his new career. The former New England Revolution defender, who now works as an emergency-room doctor in New York City, delivered a gripping message to athletes Wednesday night during his appearance on on ESPN’s “SportsCenter With Scott Van Pelt.” After acknowledging the paralyzing uncertainty many athletes feel as…
Marshall Leonard remains a capable defender in his new career. The former New England Revolution defender, who now works as an emergency-room doctor in New York City, delivered a gripping message to athletes Wednesday night during his appearance on on ESPN’s “SportsCenter With Scott Van Pelt.” After acknowledging the paralyzing uncertainty many athletes feel as they wait to wait to resume play amid the coronavirus outbreak, Leonard explained to them why it’s so important for them to do whatever it takes to stay in shape. “… I’m a sports fan, I was an athlete previously before, and all the health care providers we’re missing sports just like everybody else,” Leonard said. “As an athlete, I can’t imagine not having a season all of a sudden. One day you wake up and you can’t finish out a championship, you worked so hard for that. “We’re not able to watch it on tv (as healthcare workers). That (used to) give us a lot of relaxation, we come back from a hard shift, we sit back and watch a game. I know I do, and I know a lot of my colleagues do. “… (athletes should) Use this time — and I know it’s completely awkward — use this time to keep yourself in whatever shape possible because when this is done, I’m telling you right now, we need you. We’re doing our thing now but after this we’re going to need you because we’re going to want to watch those games at a high level as well.” These words undoubtedly will resonate with players and fans alike during these unsettling times. Leonard played 63 games for the Revolution between 2002 and 2007. He helped New England win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2007 and finish runner-up in the MLS Cup final in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Major League Soccer has extended the postponement of its matches.
The league last week announced a 30-day suspension of the season, but in accordance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to postpone events involving more than 50 people over the next eight weeks, MLS has extended that timeline.
In a statement Thursday morning, MLS said it is focused on playing the entire 2020 season and is evaluating all options, including pushing back the end of the season and playing the MLS Cup in December, as the league did prior to the 2019 season. The league is also identifying other available dates.
Throughout this process, MLS says it will continue to prioritize the safety of fans, players, employees and partners and to coordinate with federal and local public health authorities as well as other sporting organizations.
TORONTO FC (1) – NEW YORK CITY FC (0) POST MATCH SUMMARY
TFC – Ifunanyachi Achara 81’
NYC – Alexander Ring 22’ (Caution)
NYC – James Sand 35’ (Caution)
NYC – Keaton Parks 69’ (Caution)
TFC – Auro Jr 87’ (Caution)
TORONTO FC: 1-0-1 4 PTS.
NEW YORK CITY FC: 0-2-0 0 PTS.
Ifunanyachi Achara made his MLS and Toronto FC and registered his first MLS goal.
With tonight’s win Greg Vanney earned the 100th victory of his coaching career with Toronto FC (in all competitions).
With tonight’s victory Toronto FC sets a club record for consecutive regular season matches unbeaten with 12 (dating back to the final 10 games of the 2019 regular season).
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow; Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Ifunanyachi Achara (Patrick Mullins 90’+3’), Erickson Gallardo (Richie Laryea 57’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Jozy Altidore (C).
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Laurent Ciman, Liam Fraser, Jayden Nelson, Ayo Akinola
NEW YORK CITY FC – Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm, Alexander Callens, James Sands, Ronald Matarrita; Alexander Ring (C), Maxi Moralez Gary Mackay-Steven 80’), Jesus Medina (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi 72’), Keaton Parks; Heber, Alexandru Mitrita (Valentin Castellanos 72’).
Substitutes Not Used: Gedion Zelalem, Joe Scally, Sebastien Ibeagha, Brad Stuver
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Congrats on 100 wins. Was this the chess match that you wanted or envisioned?
Yes, it was. I felt like it was a soccer game. It was two teams and neither of them wanted to expose themselves. I think both teams respected the other. The tempo was kind of controlled. Each team had its moments. I thought we had a few more. We had some chances that we would like to have back probably. But a very different game than last week’s game, where guys were being chased around the field. Today was a little bit more I feel like a structured game, if you will. I am really pleased with our guys. I thought our shape defensively was good. For a vast majority of the night we strung together some good attacks. This is Game 2, so if this is what we are building from at Game 2 then we’ve got a lot to look forward to. We’ve got a lot to continue to work towards. The season is a journey and a process and so we take away what we need to from tonight and continue to build next week as we play at home again.
When did you tell Achara he was going in and what did you think of what he gave?
Yesterday in training Tsubasa Endoh blocked a shot and he was a little slow getting up and finished the training session. This morning I got a text that he was pretty sore when he woke up and so it was his knee, MCL. He got here we tested him, and he couldn’t move laterally which is the challenge when you get a little bit of an MCL strain of some sort and it was Achara you’re in. Probably maybe 90 to 100 minutes away from game time and he was ready to go. What I have to say is tonight he was fantastic. He has been fantastic since the day he arrived in pre-season in LA. From the day he arrived he showed that he fits in, that he’s talented, that he’s a smart player. That he can adapt within the game. He can read plays. He can play on the move. As we saw tonight, he has soft feet even when he is playing on the run and he’s got a nose for the goal. He scored twice tonight really. He has scored in just about every pre-season game leading up to the season. He is a wide player that can do all the things we need him to do. He had quite a night…He came to the US when he was 15 years old from Nigeria. You can tell he is a man, and he understands what life is about and he shows that on the field.
What does it mean to you to have 100 wins with this team?
I am pleased for what the 100 wins stands for. Over the 100 wins we’ve raised trophies, many of them. We’ve played in eight finals in just the last four years. We’ve been in it every single year. We’ve won a Supporters Shield, an MLS Cup. All 100 of them are special in their own way, tonight included, and I am happy for the guys I get to work with because they are the ones who win the game.
IFUNANYACHI ACHARA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Were you nervous?
No, no, I was happy, excited to just get out there. Soccer is awesome, I just love playing it. It gives me confidence.
Did you have to refocus when the goal was called back?
Definitely, I looked at the time and we had a lot of time to keep going and I know we’re going to get a lot of opportunities to score more. It happens in soccer, so you just try to score more goals.
On your shot in the 45th min…
I thought it was going in, but it was a great save from the goalie. I thought he was positioned really well, and he made the save but I would have loved if that went in.
JOZY ALTIDORE – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Jozy, you are a player that scored so many big goals in this league. To see a rookie, play his first home game and score a goal. What does that mean for him and the group?
It’s huge. Huge confidence booster for him. I think he has come in from day one as a smart kid. He’s kept his head down and he’s worked extremely hard and I think everybody has taken to him. You can see everybody is so happy for him. I couldn’t be happier for him… He is a poacher a bit. He’s got that nose for a goal.
Lot of chances tonight…What is your overall thought on the overall performance tonight?
I think it was a professional performance. It was a tough game. It was a tactical game. I think both teams were technically very strong, very smart. It was a chess match…We did enough to get one goal and one goal was enough.
QUENTIN WESTBERG – GOALKEEPER, TORONTO FC
First Game of the season…First game at home…. First Win. End up with clean sheet as well. What are your thoughts about tonight?
It went well. I think it was a very tight game. It could have gone both ways. If you were to compare it to a boxing game, we won on points. It shows a lot you know there was disappointment in not being able to hold onto the three points last week. I think we did very well to bring that spirit into tonight’s game… It was just another great night and good result against a very good opponent.
What are your impressions of Achara? What does tonight mean for him and the team?
I am super happy for him. Like I told him. I think these are good signs. It’s not just luck. You don’t score two or three goals in the preseason and you don’t create chances and even if VAR took one away. He scored another one today…. It’s a team effort and it just sets a great tone for everybody to understand what you need to bring into the team whether you start or not.
I think we didn’t play a good first half. I think we started ok but after a while we were getting problems especially in the midfield. They played through us and got pressure on us, but I think when we went out in the second half, we were much better in a 20 minutes period there. We created a big chance with Jesus (Medina) and then the game was very even but, in the end, they had a couple more chances. I’m disappointed in the first half. 20 minutes of the second half we were in better shape, we were a better team than we were in the first.
On explaining what happened:
Yeah, it’s hard to say. We have to evaluate it afterwards and see what it was. I agree with you, we started ok but then we got very flat very quickly and we got our play in the second half, but we have to play like that for 90 minutes if we want to get the three points.
You now have four days to prepare for the CONCACAF Champions League:
Yeah, but that is no problem, that’s good. That’s four days until the next game now. We want to get out and get winning. It’s going to be a big game on Wednesday and I’m looking forward to it.
KEATON PARKS – MIDFIELDER, NEW YORK CITY FC
On today’s game:
It was a tough game against a good opponent. I think we fought hard, everybody put in their full effort today. We didn’t create as many chances as we would have liked to. They capitalized on one of theirs and we lost. That’s just how it goes.
On not playing how they wanted:
No, I think we came out strong and we played a decent game. We had some mistakes here and there. Again, they have a good team, they created chances for themselves and I they capitalized on one and we couldn’t.
On what makes Toronto FC style of play that makes them a particularly tough opponent to face:
They just have quality players. Lots of teams in the league do but (Alejandro) Pozuelo, Jozy (Altidore), just a couple of guys that have a lot of quality and they play well together.
SEAN JOHNSON – GOALKEEPER, NEW YORK CITY FC
On today’s game, was it a little disjointed and they took you away from how you wanted to play:
I wouldn’t say disjointed. I thought both teams came out and put their best foot forward. Both teams committed to playing. I thought we created opportunities, they created opportunities, it was just down to a game that didn’t have much between the teams I thought. It was going to take one opportunity, defensively, offensively, but it’s just the way it goes. We have a quick turn around this Wednesday. We just have to get back to it and start preparing but its obviously disappointing to not leave with anything.
On the influence of Richie Laryea on the game:
I mean, I don’t want to take away from Laryea’s quality, but we have quality as well. There is no point at looking at one individual player and what they have done against us in terms of our team, our structure, our shape, our game plan, all of those things were something that we put emphasis on ourselves. We can’t look to anybody else but ourselves. It’s just a tough moment obviously, two games away, two losses, but I think, like I said the quick turnaround and we just have to be honest with ourselves and fix what we have done wrong in the past two days.
On Toronto FC style of play that makes them a particularly tough opponent to face:
I don’t think so. They are a quality opponent, but I don’t think there is anything special.