Texas is open but Toyota Stadium remains closed

Today marks the first day of the initial phase of Gov. Abbott’s plan to open Texas. Abbott first issued a Disaster Declaration in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13 before extending it last month with an expiration of April 30.

As of today, businesses including gyms, restaurants, and movie theaters can operate at reduced capacity. While many of us have returned to our workplaces, the FC Dallas players remain working from home to maintain their fitness as we await the resumption of the 2020 MLS season.

FC Dallas has worked with the players remotely since MLS issued its first training moratorium on March 13. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez and his staff have worked with players via video conferencing services in fitness, ball work, and tactical sessions. While FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo are the first MLS markets to see restrictions eased by local authorities, with Orlando and Miami set to follow on Monday, MLS is not yet ready to resume activity.

“We’re going to use CDC guidelines and then we’ll use MLS guidelines when we start to get more clarity on this idea of potentially allowing players to train at the facility,” said Gonzalez on a conference call on Wednesday. “We’ll do a combination of both and present when everyone is ready – the League and the clubs are ready – and we’re going to make sure we are respectful of everything to protect the players. To protect their health, their safety, but also push them in a way that we hope would be better than them then doing it on their own at home.”

The league’s approach must cater for all markets. Although the State of Texas reported 521 new cases of the novel Coronavirus on the day the state’s declaration expired, The Bronx in New York City recorded 587 new cases alone. Even on the day Dallas County reported a record number of cases, the figure still pales in comparison to other MLS markets.

It may take time before teams return to the practice field, but Gonzalez mentioned on the Luchi Gonzalez Show on 105.3 The Fan that he hopes to see players allowed to work individually or in small groups later this month.

“We want to anticipate that at any moment we can train at the facility again,” Gonzalez told listeners on 105.3 The Fan. “There’s talk about being able to do so but as individual training first. So we’ve got to have a protocol with checking temperatures, making sure guys are wearing face masks and gloves approaching the field, and an assigned specific space where they’re training on their own with staff guiding them with certain distance. MLS clubs are potentially starting this in the next week or two. We’re currently putting together our own plans. It’ll be great to have our guys working at our own facility in a safe environment but we need to learn more about this before it is approved.”

The FCD boss is excited to get his players back to Toyota Soccer Center but also praised his team for their will to work from afar as GPS trackers and physical activity monitors showed that the past week, the seventh week of MLS’ shut down, was the most productive so far.

Gonzalez also clarified how loaned players are factoring into the equation. FC Dallas currently has five players on loan domestically. Callum Montgomery (San Antonio FC) and Ema Twumasi (Austin Bold) are both working under FC Dallas as players who were moving back and forth between Frisco and their loan markets. Brecc Evans (Austin Bold), Arturo Rodriguez (Real Monarchs), and Francis Atuahene (San Diego Loyal) were all on year-long loans and are participating with their loan clubs’ current programs during the shutdown.

The goal is to minimize the risk of injury or fatigue once play resumes. As we reported yesterday, Gonzalez had mentioned the possibility of a July or August restart with a three week preseason.

UPDATE: MLS has announced a plan to allow individual player workouts in line with Gonzalez’s discussion on Thursday’s radio show.

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