CHICAGO – It’s not a full squad practice like they were used to just two-and-a-half months ago, but at least it’s something.
Cleared by Major League Soccer to begin, then allowed when Illinois moved to Phase 3 of their reopening, Chicago Fire FC players were able to return to team headquarters at SeatGeek Stadium for voluntary individual workouts on Friday.
There was certainly a different feel to this training session in Bridgeview since a number of precautions were taken both before players entered SeatGeek Stadium and during their workouts.
Players wore masks from their cars to the pitch, and each had their temperature taken before they started workouts. Those who chose to participate showed up in uniform since locker rooms and indoor gyms remain closed.
Once on the field, players could only train individually while on the pitch in the spirit of social distancing. Per MLS mandate, no team activities were allowed and no coaches, with the players mostly on their own as they got work done.
Players were staggered into four 60-minute training sessions on Friday and Saturday on the main SeatGeek Stadium fields along with others on the complex. Each field was divided into four quadrants, with one player allowed in each during the training session.
It might not have been like normal back, but it was nice for Jonathan Bornstein to be back around his teammates for the first time since early March.
“You talk with a lot of people on Zoom, through social media, and just on the phone, but it’s not the same as being isolated in the same area and being able to joke with them. Out there we were commenting on each other’s touch,” said the defender. “It was good to be able to compete with the players out there, even though it was at a distance.
“I think that was thething that lifted my spirits the most.”
For now, that’s what the Chicago Fire FC players have since a determination on how to restart the season has yet to be approved. The team got in two games – a one-goal loss to Seattle and a draw against New England – before the season was suspended for the pandemic on March 12th.