Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s biggest question to MLS regarding the proposal to temporarily relocate teams to Orlando in an attempt to restart the season is, “What happens if someone tests positive (for COVID-19)?”
“We need to get back on the field, but we have to do so in a responsible way,” he said. “There’s certainly a path to getting there. It’s a matter of having these types of conversations where everyone knows what happens if X happens, what happens if Y happens, what happens if Z happens?
The league has proposed relocating all teams to central Florida, housing the players in quarantined resorts around Disney World, and training and playing games in front of empty stands at ESPN’s nearby complex. One report had the process of relocating teams starting June 1.
All but two teams have started voluntarily individual training. Atlanta United was one of the first, opening the fields of its training ground May 6, which was the first day they were allowed to do so by MLS.
Citing the possible increased risk of injury, Guzan said he’s not sure it is wise to try to start to relocate teams that quickly and immediately have them start playing games. For example, the MLS preseason typically lasts 5-6 weeks. Players haven’t played games since the season was suspended March 12. Germany’s Bundesliga restarted last week, with teams training for two weeks before the games.
“End product isn’t going to be pleasant,” he said. “Take that out, and you are looking at health and safety of players. We understand that we won’t have six weeks. To rush it and try to do it in two weeks, there has to be a happy medium where players would feel fitter than they would after two weeks.”
Guzan said he doesn’t think trying to play the remainder of the season in Orlando is smart. The league had completed two of its 34 rounds when the season was suspended. MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the league is going to try to play as many games as possible and said that doing so will require extending the season into December.
“I don’t think you can ask the players to relocate for the rest of the season,” he said. “To take players away from their families for six months, that would be insane.”
The Orlando proposal would have to be approved by a vote of the players. Guzan declined to say what percentage of players would have to approve the idea.
While Guzan said he is confident that the season will resume, teammate Brooks Lennon, who was on the Zoom call before him, said he isn’t sure.
“I know the league wants to have games,” he said. “I really want to play games this season. In order for us to get games in, we need to make sure that we are safe and ready.”
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