Sporting Kansas City was among the few MLS clubs to generate news headlines last week, beginning voluntary individual player workouts at Compass Minerals National Performance Center, formerly Pinnacle, in Kansas City, Kansas.
These individual workouts represent the next momentous step in Major League Soccer’s return to play and mark the first time Sporting players have worked out at the facility since the 2020 MLS season was suspended March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But what do these individual workouts actually look like? What are players allowed to do and what’s off limits.
Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes provided the answers in an illuminating discussion with The Program host Soren Petro on Friday.
“Their session consists of a warmup, a technical or functional aspect that they do for about 30 minutes, and then they finish up with fitness,” Vermes said. “For them to be able to get outside, run and play with the ball, it’s a lot like the beginning stages of the offseason.
“Some of the loads that they are accumulating right now are higher than some of our training sessions because we are able to focus on very specific movements. From a fitness perspective, we’re really able to start increasing that aspect of their game, which is going to be very important in the return to play.”
Voluntary individual workouts are held in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with MLS as well as medical and infectious disease experts. The individual player workout protocol set by Major League Soccer prohibits media access to Compass Minerals National Performance Center, restricting access to players and essential staff only.
Each Sporting player takes extra precaution when entering and exiting the field in a process administered by a field marshal. Players have entire quadrants of the field all to themselves for dribbling and shooting drills, sprints and other dynamic movements.
“We’re trying to plod along here in a very calculated manner so that we can continue to progress forward as opposed to taking a step back,” Vermes said. “Everyone feels comfortable that this first phase (in the return to play) is working properly. Pretty quickly we’ll (hopefully) get into small group training with minimal contact, which means you’re doing a lot more stuff between four to six players. At that point we should have a robust (COVID-19) testing component to that, which would then lead into full-team training on an everyday basis.”
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