For the first time since March 11, Chicago Fire players trained at the team’s facilities at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview.
“It’s such a relief to be back out here,” defender Jonathan Bornstein said, in a video provided by the Fire. “I think myself, and I’m sure all the guys are really excited to be training individually, to be back at the stadium, just to be on the field, I think it’s really nice.”
For the last two months, the guys have been texting, or talking to each other on Zoom, but very few have seen each other in person. That means today, even thought it was at a distance, players were giving each other a lot of grief.
“Out there we were commenting on each other’s touch,” Bornstein said. “It was good to be able to compete with the players, even though it was at a distance. I think that was the thing that lifted my spirits the most.”
The Fire were one of the last teams in MLS to be cleared by local officials to begin these voluntary individual workouts. The rules are very strict—players have to wear masks on the walk to and from the parking lot, and fields are divided into four sections, with only one player allowed in each section.
Most of the rest of MLS has moved on to the second stage of the return to play, where they’re now training in small groups. That could happen as soon as next week for the Fire, but for now, they’re training alone, at a distance from one another.
“I feel really safe,” defender Johan Kappelhof said. “I have to give credit to all the people who worked on it. They did their best, and it’s super safe. So, I feel safe to train again and to play again.”
The MLS moratorium on full team training sessions runs through June 1. There are no matches through at least June 8. The league is reportedly trying to put together a tournament in Orlando for all 26 teams to restart play, but nothing has been finalized yet.