Fire’s Brandt Bronico relishing role in MLS negotiations
Along with teammates CJ Sapong and Jeremiah Gutjahr, Bronico is representing the Fire in talks between the players and Major League Soccer about how to restart the season.
Along with teammates CJ Sapong and Jeremiah Gutjahr, midfielder/defender Brandt Bronico is representing the Fire in talks between the players and Major League Soccer about how to restart the season.
Bronico succinctly summed up what he and his colleagues are working to do.
“Nobody wants to contract this virus, but everybody wants to get back to playing,” Bronico said. “It’s finding the safest way to do that.”
But as Bronico and everyone else knows, that is no easy task.
The Fire haven’t played since March 7, and the league has taken small concrete steps toward coming back after its shutdown because of concerns about COVID-19. Starting May 6, the league announced that players would be allowed to use team facilities for individual outdoor sessions.
Since then, it has emerged that the league is proposing to gather all 26 teams in Orlando, Florida, by June 1 in preparation for a tournament that would begin a few weeks later.
Team personnel would be quarantined at a resort near Walt Disney World with games played at the nearby ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
On Thursday night, The Athletic reported the extent of the testing before and during the league’s proposed event. The report also outlined how many people from each club would travel to Orlando.
“Basically, we need to figure out how everybody would get on board with feeling safe and feeling comfortable while leaving their families, as well,” Bronico said Tuesday.
A prime example is Fire defender Johan Kappelhof.
Kappelhof and his wife have two children with another on the way. His circumstances differ from that of some other players, but everybody would need to be accounted for before the season resumes.
“We want to play games,’’ Kappelhof said Tuesday. ‘‘We want to play. That’s our job. If they have a good plan, I’m excited to play, but it needs to be clear. Myself, I have two kids, my wife is pregnant.
‘‘For every single player, it’s going to be different. Once we have a good and clear plan, I’m excited to go there and play games.”
Bronico is part of a group figuring out how to make that happen. He said he’s on multiple calls a week, lasting one to two hours per meeting, addressing developments and gathering information to send to his teammates.
It’s a responsibility he isn’t taking lightly.
“I definitely enjoy it, and I’m definitely happy to represent and stand up for our team with regard to what I think we should get and what I think we as players deserve with health and safety, salary, budget,” Bronico said. “All of that fun stuff that people love to negotiate over. I love having that voice and representing the Fire in that way along with CJ and Jeremiah.”
In general, Bronico and his teammates are preparing to restart their season. They just don’t know what that will look like yet.
“There are just so many unknowns and so many variables that still need to be put into place,’’ Bronico said. ‘‘So when they tell me that something definite is going to happen, then I’ll take it for real. Until then, I’ve just got to keep grinding until we get back.”