Two weeks ago, as the number of positive coronavirus cases was increasing in Florida, Fire coach Raphael Wicky stressed that he trusts Major League Soccer to keep everybody safe during the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.
On Tuesday, with the Fire one day away from departing for Florida, Wicky reiterated his faith in MLS. But that doesn’t mean he’s unaware of what’s happening.
“I have to be honest; we have not spoken with the team about this,” Wicky said. “We obviously follow the news, we read newspapers, internet and we know that the cases are quite high in Florida, but like I already mentioned last time, we trust the league. We have agreed to this tournament. We’re excited to go to this tournament, but from the beginning we all said we trust that the league wants everyone to be safe and will keep everyone safe.”
The Fire are scheduled to resume their season July 8 with a match against Nashville SC. They’ve been practicing as a group for more than two weeks.
Any coronavirus-related developments in Florida, though, will be part of the backdrop. Wicky isn’t focused on it because it’s out of the team’s control.
“We obviously sometimes speak with the staff, but again, even when we speak with the staff, we just talk about, ‘Have you seen yesterday there was a new peak in Florida?’ ” Wicky said. “But we don’t then go more into further discussions because it doesn’t really make sense. It’s out of our control right now, and we trust the league. I think that was clear from the beginning. Everyone wants to be safe, and that’s the most important thing.”
Before most tournaments or seasons, a key part of training is getting players healthy and in shape. That is still a priority now, and it could be even more challenging because of the long layoff.
These days, though, there are other goals: avoiding COVID-19 and planning for contingencies if someone tests positive. So far, the Fire have been safe.
Wicky said the Fire have had no cases, attributing that to being “very, very lucky and disciplined.”
“We hope that it stays that way,” Wicky said. “And we will follow the protocols should a person [test] positive, which we really hope will not be the case.”