In our third edition of Home Away Home, presented by Western Union, Jonathan Lewis tells fans, in his own words, about what surprised him life in Orlando, what the gameday experience was like and more.
On Thursday, we left Orlando to come back to Colorado.
Life in the bubble was actually pretty alright. I mean obviously there’s a lot of rules and safety precautions, safety measures, that we had to follow, but for the most part, it’s still kind of like normal. We can interact with our teammates, interact with other teams, once we’re in the areas that allow us to interact with other teams, and that’s about it.
It’s still like normal life, just with a mask on. But I guess that is normal life right now.
The best part of the experience was just, honestly, returning to play. I think that was always going to be the biggest thing.
My thought process was like this. It’s like, ok, we have to be in a bubble. I would rather be at home, but, at the same time, we get to do what we love. That’s what we came here for, is to continue what we love to do, which is to play soccer. Sounds good to me.
I think the only thing that was surprising was just how different the games are now without fans. It’s really different to hear your coaches’ reactions, what other teams say to each other and even hearing everything our own teammates say to each other.
The referees are different, too. The referees are fans of the soccer game, which I hadn’t thought about before. You might do something sick in the game and the ref might react, and be like ‘Oh my, that was nice.’ You might think ‘Wait, is he rooting for that team?’ But he’s not, he’s just a fan of the game still too, you know. We’re all humans.
Some people are good with playing with fans, feeding off the energies, but there are definitely guys who are better in training. This is more like a training environment. It feels like televised training games. There’s not that immediate pressure on you, fans chanting your name, fans booing you, that stuff.
We definitely miss having the fans there. Win or lose, we know the fans will always have our backs, but we’re going to give it our all for every single game no matter what.
We play with their spirits in our hearts.
So, it’s not hard to get ready for the game with that in mind, but it’s just different.
To get myself ready, for the most part, I was able to do my gameday routine. The only difference is we can’t go on team walks anymore, so we do some type of team activation in our meal room.
I like to take showers before I play, which I know some people think is weird because you’re about to go get dirty anyways, but, I put my speaker on loud blast, listen to music I really like. I’m just gearing up for the game, and that didn’t change.
After playing so much down here, I don’t know what’s worse, the altitude or the humidity. Honestly, the altitude sucks, but I think the humidity… wow. We had the late games, obviously, so it’s not been as bad, but to be fair, that eight o’clock game was really, really hot. You can’t run as long as you want to run.
And I’m from South Florida! Fort Lauderdale. So, my whole life I played like at the ESPN Wide World of Sports for different tournaments, and that was playing at like three o’clock in the afternoon, with this type of humidity. It was actually terrible. I don’t know how I used to do that.
Looking back on this tournament, I’m going to remember how impressive it is that we were able to successfully pull off a tournament during a pandemic. Obviously, there were some issues at the start of the tournament, but since those issues got resolved, we’ve had all these negative tests and felt really safe. I have to commend MLS.
The results weren’t what we wanted, but this is an experience I won’t forget. I’ll always remember just being able to play the game that we love while dealing with this adversity.
Now, we’re back in Colorado. And it’s time to get back to work.
- Jonathan Lewis -