Matt Besler on return to play: The biggest challenge "is trying to get teams on the same page

With multiple reports in recent days detailing Major League Soccer’s plan to stage a closed-door tournament involving all 26 clubs this summer in Orlando, Florida, Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler joined Sports Radio 810 this morning to provide further context from a player’s perspective.

The MLS proposal would see each club venture to Disney World for a stay of eight to 10 weeks, with a period of training followed by competitive matches. Players, coaches and staff would “live in a bubble” so to speak, with no one permitted to enter or exit the bubble once training in Orlando began.

The next step in putting this plan in motion is for the MLS players union to give its seal of approval.

“The last update I got was that the Orlando proposal came to us, we reviewed it as players, and we went back to the league with some of the concerns we had and some of the ideas we had to make the proposal better,” Besler said on The Border Patrol. “This was four or five days ago and I have not heard any updates.”

Dialogue between MLS and the players union has been prolonged due to the fact that each club must gather information from its own players before providing feedback to the union. Because players are continuing to isolate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, simple locker room meetings that were once an everyday staple can no longer take place. Instead, dozens of phone calls and Zoom meetings are required among players to come to certain decisions.

“One thing we’ve started doing is surveys,” Besler said. “Tim (Melia) sends around surveys and they’re anonymous. You don’t have to put your name on it if you don’t want to, but it’ll go down the list of questions about where you stand on certain issues. That’s something we’ve tried and I think it’s gone pretty well.”

Once players exchange and gather all information necessary, teams will begin taking official votes and submitting them to the players union, Besler explained.

“You may have 30 different players on a team that feel differently about something, and those 30 players (combine) to get one vote,” he said. “That’s your team’s vote, and all 26 teams get one vote. You could vote one way as a team, but 25 other teams may feel differently. That’s the biggest challenge of a union and trying to get teams on the same page. That’s what makes this process so hard. It just takes time.”

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