SOCCER. IS. BACK.
Well, not quite, but Thursday marked an important and necessary first step on the road back to soccer as Rapids players took the field for individual training sessions for the first time since the Major League Soccer season was suspended on March 12.
The players were split between the main pitch at DICKʼS Sporting Goods Park and the regular training pitch on the complex. Each group consisted of three or four players training for 60-minute voluntary sessions.
“It was great. It almost felt like a team training,” head coach Robin Fraser said after the end of the three sessions. “Weʼve seen each other on Zoom so much recently, but to see each other in the flesh was nice.”
Each player was assigned a quadrant on the field and was run through various drills and fitness activations.
“Youʼre seeing your teammates, but youʼre not able to give them a high-five like you usually do." Kei Kamara said following his session. "But it's good... It's definitely different, but good we're taking the right steps because we want to be back on this grass."
As MLS weighs options for potential return-to-play scenarios, individual sessions will play an important part in players building fitness and getting touches on the ball.
“Itʼs good to hold yourself accountable, to compete with the coaching staff in your ear about doing the right thing technically, and just to push you a little bit,” Keegan Rosenberry said.
Although there is no timetable for training together in small groups, players will have the voluntary sessions available to them several times per week.
“We have some gear here that we donʼt have at home. Backboards, cones, sticks,” Andre Shinyashiki said. “So, it was just good fitness-wise. We broke a sweat pretty early in. Itʼs also part of the technique. Getting the touches, dribbling are super important. So, as we progress, I think we can do more things, but today was a good start.”