MLS lifts moratorium to allow return of full team training

Michael Bradley Lodeiro MLS Cup
The United States top-flight league will begin the process of ramping up towards a much-discussed competition in Orlando

Major League Soccer announced on Thursday that the league has lifted the training moratorium implemented on March 12, allowing clubs to return to full first-team sessions.

With Thursday's announcement, clubs may now submit individual plans to return, with those needing to be reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff and local infectious disease experts before being submitted to MLS for a final review.

The news comes just one day after MLS and the Players Association announced that the two sides had come together to agree to terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, avoiding a lockout while paving the way for a return to play via a much-reported Orlando tournament.

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That return to play will begin with resuming full team training, which will be mandatory for all players going forward. Until this point, teams had been allowed to hold small-group training sessions across various markets while abiding by local government protocols.

As part of the return to full training, clubs will be required to take numerous precautions, beginning with a series of tests. All players and staff must complete two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests one day apart three days prior to the start of training while also undergoing one baseline antibody (serology) test.

PCR tests will then be administered every other day with serology tests coming every three months.

Should a player or staff member test positive, that person would be isolated and tested again one day later to ensure that the test was not a false positive. That player or staff member may only return to training when cleared by medical officers. Additionally, any player deemed to be a high-risk for a severe illness cannot participate without medical approval.

As teams return, clubs will have full use of their facilities with five players at a time allowed in gyms or fitness areas. Full team training will be restricted to essential staff only with staggered player and staff arrivals and departures as well as socially-distanced parking situations. 

According to the Athletic, preparation for the league's upcoming tournament will begin on June 24, with players beginning a two-week training camp in Florida.

The tournament, which will keep players in Florida for about six weeks, will include three group-stage matches that will count toward the regular season, as well as a knockout round to determine an eventual champion.