The last time the Chicago Fire held a full team training session, it was 40 degrees and windy. Forward CJ Sapong was nursing an injury that kept him out of the first two games of the season, so he had worked out individually that day, but he was hoping to be back to full team training the following day.
The next day was March 12, the day Major League Soccer suspended play due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After a little more than three months, the Fire were finally cleared to return to full team training Monday, and Sapong was elated.
“Coaches drew up an amazing session,” Sapong said in a video provided by the Fire. (Under MLS rules, reporters still aren’t allowed to attend practice due to the pandemic.) “We enjoyed ourselves out there. We’re feeling good, feeling fit. Ready to get back to work.”
The team has been training for a couple weeks now—first, individually, then in small groups. While there are still some rules in place meant to keep players and staff healthy and safe, today was the first day the guys could actually play soccer with each other.
“The energy was going,” Midfielder Brandt Bronico said. “Guys were buzzing. And, honestly for me, I’m a big competitor, and it felt great to get out and compete, have some laughs with the guys, but also perform and play at a high level again.”
Tuesday, Fire head coach Raphael Wicky will meet with reporters to discuss the return to full team training, and the upcoming MLS is Back tournament in Orlando. The Fire will play Inter Miami, NYCFC, and Nashville SC in Group A of the competition.
Video from Fire training today. There is actual soccer resulting in actual goals.— Patrick McCraney (@patrickmccraney) June 16, 2020
There's also really great natural sound, so you might want to throw on some headphones and listen.#cffc #cf97 pic.twitter.com/I4PJ1WRGiw
“This is full go,” Bronico said. “We’re treating it like a preseason before our first game essentially down in Orlando. So, we’re looking forward to working together, getting the guys on the same page, and coming out buzzing for that first game in Orlando.”
The MLS is Back tournament starts July 8. The full schedule and broadcast details will be out at a later date.