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MLS is getting closer: Chicago Fire return to training Friday

Chicago was one of only a handful of MLS teams not yet taking part in voluntary individual workouts

Przemyslaw Frankowski of the Fire trains earlier this season, prior to the COVID-19 shutdown
Chicago Fire FC

For the first time in more than two months, Chicago Fire players are scheduled to train in Bridgeview.

The Fire announced today that players may take part in voluntary individual workouts at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview beginning Friday, May 29, which coincides with Phase Three of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to re-open the state after the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Fire are one of the final MLS teams to be cleared by local officials to return to training. On May 6, MLS permitted its players use of outdoor team training fields for voluntary individual workouts. Since then, only the Fire, D.C. United, and the San Jose Earthquakes have yet to begin workouts, according to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. Like the Fire, D.C. is also cleared to begin workouts tomorrow.

Players will be able to train Friday and Saturday of this week, with four separate 60-minute time slots each day. Players will be able to use both the stadium field and the team’s regular practice field, which will each be divided into four quadrants. Only one player may practice in a quadrant at a time, and there will be no equipment sharing allowed, not even passing or shooting between players.

MLS currently has a moratorium on matches until at least June 8, and is reportedly in the final stages of planning a tournament for all 26 teams in Orlando that would restart the 2020 season.

Earlier today, MLS announced teams may begin small group training sessions. The Fire could advance to that step as soon as next week. The league’s ban on full team training remains in place through, and including, Monday, June 1.

Micheal Azira with the ball during training camp in Florida earlier this year
Chicago Fire FC

From the Fire’s news release, here are the club’s health and safety protocols for the individual workouts. Under league rules, this list was sent to MLS, and shared with local and state authorities:

- Restricting training facility access to essential staff only.

- Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals, etc.) between every session.

- Completion of a Standard Screening Assessment (SSA) survey by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.

- Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain required social distancing between vehicles.

- Player use of personal protective equipment from their vehicle to the field, and again when departing the field and returning to their vehicle.

- Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining social distancing from players at all times other than temperature check.

- Hand washing and disinfectant stations for frequent and required use before and after individual workouts.