COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Major League Soccer suspended all matches last Thursday in response to the growing thread of the COVID-19 pandemic. At time of publishing, matches will not resume until at least May 10. As Colorado Rapids Head Coach Robin Fraser put it to Last Word on Soccer, “these are unprecedented times.” Fraser provided updates to the media on the Colorado Rapids COVID-19 response plan earlier today.
Colorado Rapids COVID-19 Updates: Fitness and Social Action Plans, Preparing for the Unknown, and More
First and foremost, Fraser confirmed that he honestly does not know if any of the players or his staff has been or will be tested for Coronavirus. A source familiar with the situation confirmed to Last Word that no player is known to have tested positive yet.
Colorado has not trained as a team since the middle of last week. The club has instructed all staff to socially isolate and every precaution is being made to execute this. Fraser went on to encourage fans to do the same and say that he and the players are excited to get back to playing in front of them when it is safe.
Maintaining Fitness in Isolation:
With all team activities suspended, players do not have access to any of the facilities at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The only exercise players can get is on their own with their own personal equipment.
“[The players] have virtually no access to gym equipment. We’re looking into getting some equipment to guys. We have been talking about trying to maintain our fitness,” said Fraser.
Colorado’s goal is to have some form of continuity in what they’re doing both fitness wise and tactically.
“Our sports science department is doing a really good job. No stone is being left unturned. Chad [Kolarcik, Head of Sports Science and Performance] is in individual contact with everyone on just about a daily basis. The special needs of the various players regarding fitness, health, strength are being addressed. None of the individual needs are lost in this.”
Kortne Ford and others were still recovering when MLS suspended play. Their needs are being met as much as the recent starters who are trying to maintain fitness and pushing towards being 90 minutes fit for when play resumes.
Like other professional sports teams, they’re doing the best they with their circumstances.
Social Distancing is not Social Isolation:
It’s kind of ironic that social media could be the savior for many who are cooped up indoors and alone right now. One of the other soccer podcasts I listened to last week had the advice that ‘social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.’
While sports teams may not be playing games, that doesn’t mean the community can’t interact virtually.
This break may be easier for some players living with family and significant others. But Fraser believes that team comradery and chemistry can and should be maintained just as much as physical fitness.
“We will do somethings that will involve conferencing to make sure we remain in contact and the players remain in contact. We’re putting together some initiatives and programs to make sure we stay connected. We want to make sure even if we are unable see each other physically on a daily basis, that we stay in contact,” said Fraser.
As a member of the media, I have heard only good things, on and off the record, about this team’s chemistry and locker room atmosphere. There’s no evidence of cliques or personal egos disrupting the team or its goals. That’s led to meaningful relationships:
“Even the guys who English isn’t their first language, they speak English well enough that they have real and genuine relationships with everyone on the team. It’s my understanding that the players are in contact,” Fraser responded.
Several players have taken to the #StayAtHomeChallenge on Twitter and have had fun interacting on social media. In any case, given the circumstances, moral seems to be ok both naturally and through initiatives the staff are taking.
An Uncertain Future:
To put it simply, we have no idea when league play will resume. Will MLS be able to reschedule all of the postponed games? What will that mean for competitions like the U.S. Open Cup? Will the season have to be extended beyond November? Will the suspension last so long that MLS will have to curtail the regular season format completely?
We have no idea and that’s making it really hard for the Colorado Rapids to plan anything. They’re taking it one day at a time.
“It’s been difficult to take a long term approach as in if you’re going into a preseason, you already know how long you have, you plan accordingly. This is totally different because we don’t know how long the break is going to be. We don’t know when we can resume training. For [this] week, it’s been a waiting game. These are unprecedented times. Things change on a daily basis,” said Fraser.
The club is committed to following whatever decisions the league hands down. Fraser made clear he will make no excuses no matter what the future holds. Yes, this is unprecedented circumstances for MLS, but everyone’s dealing with the same uncertainty.
“I don’t think the integrity of the competition is impeded,” said Fraser adding “the asterisk will be that we lived through one of the most trying times in our [personal] history. For me personally, I don’t feel as if there with be a negative slant to the champion this year.”
No excuses, take every challenge and circumstance as they come, and work hard seemed to be the themes Fraser was radiating. It fits the Colorado Rapids COVID-19 plan, the history of the club, and the current situation well.
Colorado’s first scheduled game after the May 10 moratorium is Saturday May 16 at New York City FC. Kick off is scheduled for 5:00 PM MT.