CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy were back on the main field at Dignity Health Sports Park on Monday morning with things feeling a little bit more normal than they had just days earlier. Decked out in their training tops, and walking out the tunnel from the locker rooms and training facilities, they had their first team practice since a March 12 training moratorium shut down Major League Soccer due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Galaxy received approval over the weekend to restart their team training, which includes the ability to scrimmage, tackle, and come in contact with other teammates. Additionally, all team training facilities are now open. So gyms, locker rooms, and rehabilitation facilities are also accessible.
And it comes at a perfect time as the club prepares for the July 8 “MLS is Back” tournament hosted in Orlando at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex (Read our story on the competition HERE).
“It’s been a long time, as we all know,” Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget explained. “It’s been around three months.
“It’s nice to be with all the guys, connect with everyone. And it was a beautiful day, and just a really good group session. Just really happy to be back.”
But in the age of Covid-19, all these freedoms come with a myriad of testing protocols that were mandated by the league and approved by local health officials. Something the Galaxy, and all 26 MLS teams must now make part of their usual routine.
To start, players must have completed a physical examination, and all players and staff must have completed two Covid-19 tests 24 hours apart. If both of those tests come back negative, the player and team would be allowed to train. If any positive test is received, the player is isolated and tested again 24 hours later to rule out any false positives.
For the remainder of the training schedule, players will be tested once every other day. In addition, players and training staff were also given a serology test — a test that looks for the antibodies of a previous Covid-19 infection. Those serology tests will be administered once every three months on a continuous basis.
Training rooms, gyms, and fitness facilities will all be limited to just five individuals at all times, and doors and other entry points that see a lot of touching will be propped open. And, just like almost everything we come in contact with, everything must be cleaned and disinfected between every session. That includes the laundry and individual water bottles that are assigned to a player. The water cooler, it seems, is dead.
“We feel great today. We come back to training all together,” Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said after training. “Now we know we have a tournament in Orlando, and we want to focus about when we play the first game. But everyone knows now that we have to be ready in the next month. “
The Galaxy are required to report to Orlando on July 1, by MLS, to ready for the July 8 start of the tournament. The Galaxy have been drawn into Group F along with LAFC, the Houston Dynamo, and the Portland Timbers. The top two teams from each group will advance with a certain number of third-place teams advancing as well.
And after the tournament, the league is hopeful to announce a regular season that will see games played at home stadiums, across the country and Canada. But with rising coronavirus cases in California, and in Florida, no games are guaranteed.