“It felt good to get out there and play a little 11 v 11 with the guys,” centerback Miles Robinson said. “It was exciting to see everyone. I haven’t seen everyone in months.”
The team spent a large amount of Monday’s time working on conditioning and passing drills, in addition to scrimmaging. It was similar to the work done by the team during its preseason workouts.
Before Monday’s session, teams were permitted in early May to conduct individual workouts as long as the safety protocols were met. The league then approved small-group training sessions May 30 of no more than six players on a field. Each of those types of sessions were voluntary. Monday’s was not. Atlanta United was among the first teams to conduct each of the three sessions.
“I feel safe, and the whole team is excited,” Robinson said.
The team sessions were approved by the league ostensibly so that franchises can prepare for the proposed 26-team tournament in Orlando that reportedly is scheduled to start July 9. The league has yet to green light the event, but commissioner Don Garber said last week that the league has been working on it for several weeks.
Different MLS players have said they would need at least three weeks of team training to get back to full fitness in to put a quality product on the field for the tournament. Robinson said he thinks the team will be ready.
“The ideal thing would be two months or as long as possible, but I think the advantage is for every team,” Fernando Meza said. “Whoever is at their best and focused will gain the advantage. Personally, I’m positive and trying to transmit that to my teammates.”