In the Washington area, which remains largely under stay-at-home orders, the three pro sides are awaiting permission from local health officials to open their fields to the players.
With the teams in a holding pattern, here’s where things stand with D.C. United, the Washington Spirit and Loudoun United, and their leagues.
Players have been working out on their own for more than two months, using backyards, parks and other locations to stay in shape.
MLS is allowing teams to arrange workouts in compliance with local health authorities and government orders. United’s usual locations — RFK Stadium’s training fields and Audi Field — remain off-limits.
United is among seven MLS teams sidelined, joining the two New York clubs, New England, Montreal, Chicago and San Jose. Barred from using its facility in suburban Chester, Pa., the Philadelphia Union opted for the field outside the 76ers’ NBA base in Wilmington, Del.
United spokesman Zachary Abaie said the team is “continuing to work with local governments and hoping to be able to use our facilities soon for voluntary training.”
As The Washington Post was first to report last week, MLS is aiming to bring all 26 teams to Orlando early next month for several weeks of training and a month of matches. The players and staff would stay in a controlled environment at a Disney resort for six to eight weeks and use the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The MLS Players Association must sign off on any such plan.
At the same time, the league and union are negotiating an economic settlement to help offset MLS’s losses during the shutdown. Over the weekend, The Post learned, the players offered $103 million in relief through salary cuts, deferments and, among other things, a freeze on terms of the collective bargaining agreement in 2020-21. The league had been seeking more than $150 million in cuts.
United played two games before the health crisis shuttered sports leagues around the world. Fourteen of the remaining 32 matches have been postponed. How many will be rescheduled remains unclear, though MLS has suggested extending the season into the winter if necessary to play as many as possible.
United still continues to look for roster help, though the pandemic’s impact on schedules around the world has complicated the search. Defenders Bakaye Dibassy (Amiens, France) and Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers, England) remain on the radar, but U.S. national team forward Bobby Wood (Hamburg) has fallen off.
Unless MLS alters the transfer window, teams will not be able to sign players from overseas or make trades until July 7 through Aug. 5.
Barred from using Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County, players are engaged in individual workouts at a private location in Haymarket in Virginia’s Prince William County, three people familiar with the arrangement said.
Three weeks ago, in anticipation of workout restrictions beginning to lift, the National Women’s Soccer League instructed players to return to their home markets. U.S. national team star Rose Lavelle is expected to be in the area soon, becoming the last Spirit player to report after spending the past two months in her hometown of Cincinnati.
The NWSL’s moratorium on full practices runs through at least Friday.
Like MLS, the NWSL is looking to bring all nine teams to one location (Salt Lake City) this summer and play matches over several weeks. A decision whether to move forward is expected soon.
The season had been scheduled to start in mid-April, highlighted by the Spirit hosting Megan Rapinoe and Tacoma, Wash.-based OL Reign at Audi Field.
The second-division team — which is owned by D.C. United and plays in the USL Championship — is not allowed to use Segra Field, its complex in Leesburg.
“A date has not yet been set, but we’re hopeful it may be very soon,” the team said. “In the interim, players will continue to complete individual workouts provided by the staff on their own.”
USL teams had just started the regular season when the pandemic struck. The league is exploring alternatives to the traditional schedule, including “regionalized competition as well as other alternative structures.”
D.C. United has asked Loudoun County to defer its next two rent payments totaling $621,000 because of the pandemic’s economic fallout, the Loudoun Times-Mirror reported. Aside from Segra Field, the county is providing land for a training center that, when completed next year, will house D.C. United, Loudoun United and the Spirit.
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