In what can only be seen as a step closer to a return to play, Sporting Kansas City players were able to begin voluntary training on Wednesday for the first time since March 12 when all Major League Soccer action was suspended. According to a sound byte released by Sporting Kansas City, Peter Vermes says that the original idea for this type of training came after he had spoken to players individually and many of them had expressed a need to have field access away from public spaces. The Sporting plan was then passed on to MLS, received positive feedback and through conversation and committee work it became the protocol for all teams.
The plan shows that Sporting Kansas City has many protocols in place to do everything possible to keep players and staff safe. Upon arrival at Compass Minerals National Performance Center (formally Pinnacle), players must park where there will be multiple empty spaces between cars. Players must stay in their vehicle until they are waved over by staff and must be wearing a mask when they walk to the check-in station.
At that point, players have their temperatures taken by a Sporting staff member. It also appears that they have their pulse oximetry taken as well. If those both check out to be within normal range players are then given hand sanitizer and are told where they will be training. All players are given a designated quadrant on one of two available training fields. Players are then able to train within their given quadrant.
Sporting Kansas City shared several videos and photos of players arriving and running drills on the training fields. Tim Melia, Matt Besler, Roger Espinosa, Roberto Puncec, Amadou Dia, Graham Zusi, Alan Pulido, Luis Martins, Daniel Salloi, Andreu Fontas, Khiry Shelton, Ilie Sanchez, Graham Smith, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Gadi Kinda and Botand Barath were all in attendance at training Wednesday. It is possible that other players were also there at some point in the day, but were not seen in any of the photos or videos.
It is unclear at this point how long this will continue to be the training protocol. It seems that the probable next step will be small group training before returning to full team training. Sporting Kansas City II, Sporting’s USL affiliate, are able to begin small group training on Monday May 11.
While this is obviously not where Sporting Kansas City and their fans thought they would be at this point in the season, it is at least a sign that there might be matches coming in the not too distant future. They probably won’t look like what the fans were hoping for, but at this point SKC fans will take what they can get!