Major League Soccer on Friday extended its moratorium on organized team practices through March 27 in response to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
MLS placed a four-day ban on training sessions last week, then extended that into the weekend before adding another week to the moratorium Friday. Under the ban, team training facilities can be accessed for physical therapy purposes only and players cannot work out together because that would violate social-distancing practices.
The United Soccer League, which manages the second-tier USL Championship and League One, also extended a training ban for its 47 clubs through April 5 on Friday, while the Women’s Premier Soccer League announced it will delay the start of its 23rd season until May 29.
The WPSL season was scheduled to begin May 9, and the postponement will push back 82 matches. But the league, long a summer home for the country’s top college players, expects to play a full season. The second-tier WPSL has 130 teams, including several in Southern California, making it the world’s largest women’s league.
MLS teams, meanwhile, have been issuing sanitized equipment such as soccer balls and exercise bands to their players and are monitoring their workouts closely during the league’s training moratorium. Stretching and conditioning activities such as running have been relatively easy to do, but passing and ballhandling drills are more challenging to do alone, LAFC coach Bob Bradley said.
“Everybody’s situation is different,” he said “Can they get outside? Are there fields? Is there a wall that they can use?
“Part of the challenge right now is just making sure that everybody’s doing the best they can and having the right mentality so that when we get a chance to all return, we’re all ready.”
LAFC is an unusually tight-knit team, so Bradley worries as much about what the time away will do to the club culture as he does about fitness. With the moratorium extended a second time, Bradley said performance coach Daniel Guzman is organizing team training sessions that will be conducted through a video-conferencing service.
“It’s just a matter of keeping everybody working together at a time when you’re not physically together. And there’s many parts to it,” Bradley said. “You’ve got to always understand players and [ask] how are their families doing and extended family? So there’s a lot for everybody to be on top of at the moment.
“And then in the midst of all that is the challenge when we’re not together of keeping guys motivated to keep training. So we’re working on all of those things at the same time.”