Minnesota United to resume full team training under strict Covid-19 guidelines

Jan Gregus #8 of Minnesota United leads his teammates in a celebration after United clinched a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs after defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at Allianz Field on September 25, 2019 in St Paul, Minnesota. (David Berding / Getty Images)

After reaching an agreement with Major League Soccer earlier this week on resuming the season, Minnesota United and all teams will soon be hosting full team workouts again.

MLS officials announced Thursday they’re lifting the moratorium on team training has been lifted, and full practices at team facilities can resume once teams have their plans approved by their medical staff, infectious disease experts and league officials. The MLS suspended play on March 12, and at the time, Minnesota United was 2-0 with a pair of road wins. They were getting ready to start their second season at Allianz Field with four straight home games.

A date is not official, but play will resume with a World Cup-style tournament in Florida. All teams will have three group stage games that will count for points and league standings, followed by a 16-team playoff. Teams are preparing to be in Florida by late June, with matches to be held at ESPN's Wide World of Sports without fans.

Team training will begin for Minnesota United after their practice plan gets approved, and all players and staff go through a detailed testing process due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is a look at that testing protocol:

  • Players must complete a physical examination, and all players and staff must complete two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart, 72 hours prior to the start of training, and undergo one baseline antibody (serology) test.
  • Players will be cleared to train by their medical staff only after they have successfully completed their interim physical, completed two negative PCR tests and the serology test.
  • Players, coaches and select staff must complete PCR tests every other day and only those with negative results will be allowed to attend training.
  • Serology testing will be performed once every three months.
  • Individual club test providers must be authorized by the FDA and Health Canada. Turnaround time for tests must be no more than 24 hours.
  • If a player or staff member tests positive, the individual will be isolated. The isolated individual will be tested again at least 24 hours later to ensure the result was not a false positive.  All close contacts will be tested immediately.  Contact tracing will be performed at the direction of the club’s COVID-19 task force and local authorities.
  • A player or staff member that tests positive for COVID-19 may return to training only when cleared by the club’s Chief Medical Officer in consultation with the league medical team.
  • Any player or staff considered to be in a high-risk category for severe illness related to COVID-19 will not be permitted to participate in team training unless cleared by the club’s Chief Medical Officer. 

Here is a list of protocols for facility and equipment use:

  • Clubs will have the full use of their training facilities.
  • Entry points should remain open to avoid repeated contact with doorknobs or door exit bars. 
  • The training room, gyms and fitness areas will be restricted to no more than five individuals at any time while maintaining physical distancing standards.
  • Clubs should use multiple dressing rooms and assign players to the same dressing room for each training session. Individual lockers should be spaced at least 10 feet apart.
  • The training room, gyms and fitness areas, as well as dressing rooms and showers must be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected following every session in accordance with MLS protocols.
  • All equipment and laundry must be cleaned and disinfected after each use and in accordance with MLS and EPA protocols.
  • Clubs must provide individual hydration bottles to players at all times.  Communal water or hydration devices are strictly prohibited.
  • Only individual, prepackaged meals and individually wrapped utensils may be provided to players and staff. Players and staff must maintain 10 feet of physical distancing while eating. 

While we don't have a restart date yet, it's another positive step for sports getting back on the field.