We’re learning more every day about the “hub” plans proposed by both MLS and NWSL to return to play amidst the coronavirus pandemic. NWSL’s plan to host all nine teams in Utah seems imminent, and the MLS plan to send all its teams to Orlando may not be far behind.
Not surprisingly, we’re starting to hear from players who have concerns. The Philadelphia Union’s Alejandro Bedoya talked to Taylor Twellman, where he said the plan amounts to putting players in a “luxurious prison.”
CJ Sapong agreed with Bedoya on Twitter, calling it a “wild ask.”
This is the only time in my career that I’ve felt a situation is bigger than the entertainment needs of fans... Call me crazy, but to increase risk financially, physically and MENTALLY with little reward is a wild ask. https://t.co/G90g6hRwTt— CJ Sapong (@BigAfrika88) May 20, 2020
Twellman also talked to Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes, who seems ready to get back to work.
“Without having anything else, we need to get back to playing games. It’s the best competition that we have available to us, so it’s the one that we have to embrace and go play.” Vermes of @SportingKC #BanterTT https://t.co/AMGJGqA60d pic.twitter.com/VXTl8QvaWD— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) May 21, 2020
This is a very dynamic situation, where Sapong, Bedoya, and Vermes all have valid points. I’m sure nearly everyone involved ideally wants to get back to soccer in some form, but players are correctly concerned over safety, and being quarantined for such a long time (the NWSL four week plan seems a lot more reasonable than 8-10 weeks for MLS).
I’ve been thinking a lot about the parents, like the Fire’s Jonathan Bornstein or Michele Vasconcelos of the Red Stars. Even if you’re from a two parent home, or you have a great support network in place to help, leaving your kids for a month or two is a really difficult ask. Doing it during a pandemic is on another level.
Or, as Sounder at Heart pointed out the other day, what about a guy like Jordan Morris? Sure, he’s young and in phenomenal shape, but he’s also a Type 1 diabetic, which puts him at a higher risk of dying if he catches COVID-19. What should he do?
At the same time, I feel for players who want to get back to work. Realistically, there are players who were hanging on the bottom of rosters, who might just have to quit soccer because of this. Think about those who were called in to Red Stars training camp as non-roster invitees. They might have been in the best shape of their life, ready to prove they deserve a shot. Now, they likely won’t get one, at least now.
Whether it’s mental health, or physical health, or their personal lives, every player’s situation is different. Two players who seem very similar on the field might have very different views about what to do next, and that’s okay.
As we move forward, let’s all keep that in mind.