The ball officially is rolling to get New York’s Major League Soccer clubs back on the field.
New York City FC and the Red Bulls opened their practice facilities to players Monday for voluntary individual workouts after more than two months on coronavirus pandemic-induced hiatus.
The clubs both announced plans for safely returning Monday, including regular screenings and temperature checks, sanitization and disinfection strategies as well as personal protective equipment use.
MLS allowed teams to use outdoor fields for individual workouts on May 6, but local restrictions kept closed both City’s facility in Orangeburg and the Red Bulls’ training center in Whippany, N.J.
That changed for NYCFC following Sunday’s announcement by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo allowing professional sports teams to resume training, the club said in a news release.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the health and welfare of our players, staff and fans has been our number one priority,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said. “After close collaboration and with the approval of team doctors, MLS and the State of New York we will now be using our training pitch for individual player workouts. The safety procedures we implement will be extensive and will fully comply with social distancing procedures from the moment the players and the essential staff arrive to when they leave.”
The Red Bulls said the club was given the go-ahead by an executive order signed last week by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy that allowed for increased outdoor gatherings, including for professional athletes to fulfill their job duties.
The policies for both clubs feature many of the precautions being taken by teams around the world as sports attempt to safely resume while the pandemic runs its course.
• Training facilities will be restricted to preapproved essential staff.
• All training equipment and spaces will be sanitized between sessions, while use of handwashing and disinfectant stations will be required before and after workouts.
• A standard screening survey and temperature check will be conducted for each player upon arrival, which will be done in a staggered manner with designated space between parking spots. Players will use personal protective equipment (masks, gloves) while going to and from the field, while staff will use appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training while maintaining 10 feet of distance.
• Fields will be divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field with only one player per quadrant participating per training session with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.