Earthquakes join the rest of MLS by finally training at their facility

SAN JOSE — The Earthquakes returned to training Tuesday, albeit in a limited fashion, as Major League Soccer begins showing signs of life since the season was suspended March 12 because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Quakes were the last of the 26 league teams to gain local government approval to hold individualized sessions at home facilities. The season shutdown after each of the 26 teams had played two games.

MLS officials are expected to announce this week plans to reboot the 2020 season with a tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Florida.

Reports say the tournament would probably be held in July and perhaps early August. All 26 teams are scheduled to compete in a made-for-TV tournament that will start with three group games and include a 16-team knockout round.

The group games will count toward the regular season standings with league officials eyeing a return in late August, according to recent reports. Some teams already are preparing to have thousands of fans in their stadiums. But the Earthquakes will have to follow Santa Clara County rules on crowd gatherings that are expected to be more restrictive.

The winner of the preseason tournament will earn a slot in the CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament to determine the region’s best club team.

The Quakes training, which continues Wednesday, involves only half the team each day because of social distancing restrictions.

About 14 players trained Tuesday in Earthquakes Stadium and the team’s training field for almost 90 minutes, a team official said. No more than four players were permitted on the field at a given time.

The players went straight from their cars to a tent for temperature testing, the official said. The official said all the players had temperatures within the normal range.

The players stayed within 10 feet of each other while working with cones and mannequins in ball handling drills.

Some MLS teams are gearing up for group and full-scale training, but the Earthquakes don’t expect to join them in the coming days. California leaders have moved slower than much of the rest of the country in re-opening as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

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Author: Elliott Almond