When it comes to actual game times and schedules, there is still little more than speculation throughout the sports world. Fields and arenas throughout the country have sat empty for over two months
But there has been a flicker of light in sports this week on the soccer fields at The Clubhouse.
Following a decision by USL League One to allow limited groups to participate in modified drills, Tormenta FC has been back in action - to the extent it can be.
Under the current precautions, no more than four players may practice at the same time and are not allowed to have direct contact with one another. Coaches can be present, but are only there for observation and aren’t able to provide instruction during the drills. The players practice in shifts in order to give everyone field time and no one unaffiliated with the team is allowed to be at the practice facility.
“It’s at least something,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said. “A few months ago, I thought we were having a great offseason and that we were really building a solid and special group of guys. And then everything ends so suddenly and we’ve been dark since.
“Two or three weeks (of postponed games and practices) has turned into two months and now even longer. Our guys have done a good job of keeping up their physical and mental health on their own, but I know it has to be good to be able to kick a ball and do some sort of drill.”
While Tormenta doesn’t have a set date for returning to play, the somewhat relaxed precautions could pave the way for more intense training and a quicker return to actual games if and when they are announced.
Of course, nothing can be a substitute for full-speed action. Exhibition matches aren’t the same as real games, scrimmages aren’t the same as exhibitions and the current allowed activities are a far cry from any of those.
But the biggest obstacle in a possible return to play is in the pace of the preparation.
“We always have the micro and the macro,” Miglarese said. “For the micro, you know you have a game on Saturday and you count down the things you need to do as you go through the week. It’s similar in the macro as you consider progress through the entire season. But right now, there’s neither. There’s no time frame to take into context.”
To the players’ credit, they’ve been finding plenty of ways to keep their bodies and minds fresh. In addition to running and getting in soccer-specific workouts on their own whenever they can, Tormenta players have also been catching up on reading, taking up painting and even learning to sew in order to help produce facemasks for healthcare workers at area hospitals.
Original plans for the 2020 League One season would have seen teams completing the first third of their schedules right about now. There has been no public announcement of what kinds of abbreviated schedules would be considered, but Tormenta will be ready for any chance to get back on the field.
“It’s just a matter of trying to keep ourselves at the right level of preparedness,” Miglarese said. “When the time comes, we don’t want to overdo things and wear guys out just because we’re happy to be back. At the same time, we expect our guys to be ready to go out and compete and win.”