Tag Archives: individual

Montreal Impact begin outdoor individual training for first time since start of COVID-19

The Montreal Impact returned to their training centre Monday for their first individual outdoor practice sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Impact players had been training on their own since Major League Soccer suspended play March 12.

Local authorities initially turned down the MLS team’s request to get going with the voluntary individual sessions. But the Impact got the green light to start Monday.

“It feels amazing,” said captain Jukka Raitala, who is coming off a broken bone in his right leg suffered in a CONCACAF Champions League match in late February.

“The circumstances are different, way different, but we need to adapt. It’s a very nice step to be back on the field and start working on fitness and working with the ball. I couldn’t be more happy.”

“I feel great. My leg feels great. Looking forward to working even harder,” added the Finnish international.

‘Happy to be here’

Raitala said while he needs to work on his fitness, he has a “big hunger” to get back into top shape.

Spanish attacking midfielder Bojan also welcomed the chance to get back to training.

“Happy to be here,” said Bojan, who like Raitala wore a mask in his post-training interview.

“Everyone, we all want to be back playing, enjoying our sport,” he added. “But we know that the situation is not nice so we need to be patient.”

Impact midfielder Steeven Saba broke his left foot last week on what the club called “a routine jog” near his home in Montreal. he will be sidelined eight to 12 weeks.

Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps have already started their individual training sessions.

Both natural grass fields at Centre Nutrilait are being used, which allows eight players to train at the same time in separate quadrants as per the league protocol.

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Vancouver Whitecaps start individual workouts outdoors at training facility

The Vancouver Whitecaps got back to training Tuesday, albeit via voluntary individual workouts at the club’s practice facility.

Still it was a welcome return for 16 players, who each had a quarter of a field to work in during their hour-long outdoor sessions. Another nine are slated to go Wednesday at the team’s training centre at the University of British Columbia.

The players had been on their own since March 12 when MLS suspended play two weeks into the 2020 season due to the global pandemic.

“”It was special… especially on the mental side,” said Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos. “Just to have the players being together and slowly seeing each other, even if it’s on another side of the field.”

“I think it’s a very important step,” he added. “It’s Step 1, cleats going on the grass, touching the ball, seeing their teammates around, seeing coaches back around. It’s a beginning.”

Toronto FC started individual workouts Monday. The Montreal Impact are looking to join them after having their initial request rejected by Montreal Public Health.

While players take baby steps, the league is examining its options for resuming play. One scenario reportedly would see all 26 teams travel to the Orlando area this summer to train and play matches without fans at the sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports property.

TFC has trained and played pre-season matches at the complex in the past.

UFC president Dana White, who held his first fight card in two months on the weekend in Jacksonville, praised Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis in his post-fight news conference Saturday, saying he would urge any league to choose the state as a starting point.

Much has to be done to facilitate such a plan, including opening borders and easing travel restrictions.

“MLS is looking at a lot of different options,” said Vancouver sporting director Axel Schuster, who says only 13 of the league’s 26 clubs have got to Stage 1 so far.

“Everything is still in the air,” said Dos Santos.

WATCH | Toronto teams begin to reopen facilities:

Toronto FC and the Raptors are allowing players to have voluntary individual workouts at their facilities but there’s no definite timetable for the return of MLS or NBA action. 2:17

If the plan is to eventually move the league to one location for a block of games, the coach said he would look at it like going to a World Cup — a month of training in advance of four to six weeks of competition.

“For sure, it has its challenges,” he said.

MLS teams have had to get their individual workout protocol approved by local authorities and the league.

“This is new not only for the Whitecaps or MLS, it’s new in the world,” said Dos Santos.

Schuster stressed that the team’s move to individual workouts should not be seen by the general public as a sign to ease up on physical distancing or ignore other COVID-19 guidelines.

The Whitecaps’ workout protocol prohibits access to other club facilities. Gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s chief medical officer.

Screening before workout

Players have to complete a screening assessment survey prior to arrival at the training site and undergo temperature checks upon arrival.

They have to wear personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the field, and on the way back to their cars. Staff have to be at least 10 feet from players at all times.

The workouts will have to wait for Whitecaps forward Yordy Reyna and defender Jasser Khmiri, who were fined last week for breaking physical distancing protocols.

Reyna, a Peruvian international, and Khmiri, a Tunisia international, were seen taking part briefly in a pickup soccer game in a Vancouver park while doing a personal workout.

Both have entered 14-day self-quarantine.

The club had previously allowed 18-year-old Gianfranco Facchineri and 20-year-old Thomas Hasal to be with their families in Ontario and Saskatchewan, respectively.

Dos Santos said he had been working on his cooking skills during the pandemic but ceded the kitchen back to his wife upon her return from Montreal.

Lack of soccer aside, he said he has enjoyed time with his family who were not with him during coaching stints in Kansas City, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

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Toronto FC to begin voluntary individual player workouts at training facility

Toronto FC says it will begin voluntary individual player workouts outdoors at its north Toronto training facility starting Monday.

That mirrors the Toronto Raptors, who are opening up the OVO Athletic Centre for similar workouts as of Monday.

The news comes in the wake of Friday’s announcement by the Ontario government easing restrictions on pro sports teams. Players are allowed limited access to their training facilities providing they follow their league’s “established health and safety protocols” in response to COVID-19.

MLS and NBA have established strict guidelines for these workouts.

While the NBA now allows four players at a time in practice facilities, the Raptors will only have one player at a time in the building. Players will have to wear masks at all times except when on court. Staff members will wear gloves and masks at all times when in the building.

As for MLS, the field can be divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. Only one player per quadrant is allowed, with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.

TFC players and staff will have to arrive and leave at staggered times, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.

Players will have to wear personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the training field and back. Staff will also have to wear “appropriate personal protective equipment” during training while maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet (3.1 metres) from players at all times.

Head coach Greg Vanney says he and his coaching staff won’t be directly involved in the workouts, whose details will likely be texted to players the night before. Trainers will oversee the sessions and ensure the rules are followed.

The individual player workout protocol does not allow access to all club facilities, with locker-rooms and certain other areas still off-limits. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s chief medical officer.

‘Controlled environment’

The MLS guidelines call for restricting access to essential staff only, as well as sanitization and disinfection plans (including balls, cones, goals).

“By utilizing the training ground for individual workouts, TFC will be able to provide a controlled environment that ensures adherence to safety protocols and social distancing measures for players and staff,” the club said in a statement Sunday.

ICYMI | TFC becomes first Canadian club to hoist MLS Cup:

After losing last year’s MLS Cup final to Seattle 5-4 in penalties, Toronto avenged their defeat with a 2-0 victory over Seattle in the championship rematch 1:56

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz all-star centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It ordered teams to close their facilities eight days later.

MLS suspended play on March 12 and put a halt to team training sessions.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, sad Friday she is working with Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays, the NHL’s Maple Leafs and Senators and the CFL’s Argonauts, Tiger-Cats and Redblacks as well as others “on what a safe return would look like for them.”

The NHL has yet to allow training to resume.

The NHL has said that it is working towards having players returning to small group activities at club training facilities. In the meantime, a ban on NHL players using training facilities other than rehab remains in place.

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MLS to allow voluntary individual player workouts under strict guidelines

Major League Soccer is easing its training restrictions, allowing clubs to use their practice fields but only for individual workouts and under strict rules.

Team training facilities have been closed, other than for approved rehab, since the league suspended play March 12 due to the global pandemic.

In giving the green light Friday to individual workouts, the league said they would be voluntary and would have to meet local public health official or government policies.

The league is also imposing a list of requirements, including players completing a “screening assessment survey” prior to every arrival and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.

Guidelines to be followed

Players will have to wear personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the training field and back. Staff will also have to wear “appropriate personal protective equipment” during training while maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet (3.1 metres) from players at all times.

Players and staff will have to arrive and leave at staggered times, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.

Field can be divided into a maximum of four quadrants per field. Only one player per quadrant is allowed, with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.

Teams still have work to do to make it happen. They have to come up with a plan that satisfies both local authorities and the league.

‘It’s a good thing’

“We’re working on it,” said Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney. “It’s a good thing.”

Vanney says he and his coaching staff won’t be directly involved in the workouts, whose details will likely be texted to players the night before. Trainers will oversee the sessions and ensure the rules are followed.

“It kind of gives the guys a bit of a safe space to prepare for their work,” said Vanney. “They’re actually safer doing it there than they are anywhere else.


Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney speaks to the media during an end-of-season availability in 2019. After Major League Soccer eased individual training restrictions on Friday, Vanney said it allows a “safe space” for players to prepare for a return to action. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

“There’s a lot of hoops that we have to jump through to make sure that that can happen and happens safely. But I think it feels like, for everybody at least at the club, a step towards getting back onto the field. We know there’s many more steps that need to be taken before we’re actually playing games but this is the first one.

“And by them being able to do this, it could shorten whatever the pre-season phase might be as we do find a day, hopefully soon, that we can come back.”

A league-wide moratorium on small group and full team training remains in place through May 15.

The league has extended its suspension of play to at least June 8. It initially announced a 30-day suspension of play on March 12 — two weeks into the regular season.

League exploring scheduling options

A week later, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, it extended its season hiatus with a target return date of May 10. That was then pushed back into June.

The league says it continues to explore scheduling options for fitting in the entire season, including pushing back the MLS Cup “into December or later.” This year’s MLS Cup had been scheduled for Nov 7.

The league is also in discussion with its players about wages, due to the financial impact the shutdown is having on the league.

MLS said the regulated individual workouts allows clubs “to provide a controlled environment that ensures adherence to safety protocols and social distancing measures for players and staff.”

The individual player workout protocol does not allow access to all club facilities, with locker-rooms and certain other areas still off-limits. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s chief medical officer.

Teams must submit to the league their plans to facilitate individual workouts. That must include restricting access to essential staff, as well as sanitization and disinfection plans (including balls, cones, goals).

All plans must be reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff and local infectious disease expert before submitting to the league.

ICYMI | TFC becomes first Canadian club to hoist MLS Cup:

After losing last year’s MLS Cup final to Seattle 5-4 in penalties, Toronto avenged their defeat with a 2-0 victory over Seattle in the championship rematch 1:56

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Canadian Premier League finals: 3 key individual matchups to watch in Leg 2

Forge FC and Cavalry FC managed to keep things interesting in their eighth match of the season over the weekend at Tim Hortons Field.

Leg 1 of the Canadian Premier League Finals featured two sides that were, well, probably sick of seeing one another.

Still, the idea of an eighth and ninth match against the same team presents a strange prospect.

They know everything about you and you know everything about them … in theory, until one team throws a curveball.

As Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. aptly put it after his team’s 1-0 loss, Leg 1 was full of curveballs; two red cards and several moments of controversy made Saturday’s match seem like anything but a season finale.

Tactically, both Wheeldon and Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis had some tricks up their sleeves.

Here are three key matchups to look for in Leg 2 of Finals 2019 on Saturday at ATCO Field in Calgary:

Chris Nanco vs. Dominick Zator

Forge winger Chris Nanco had an absolute field day on Saturday with teammate Kwame Awuah behind him at fullback. The pair overran their opposite, Cavalry’s Dominick Zator, in a clear directive from Smyrniotis. Nanco set up Borges’ winning goal and completed produced numerous scoring chances as a tricky and direct attacker.

Smyrniotis was pleased with the duo’s work, too.

“Combining well put [Cavalry] on the back-foot, not only from an attacking end, but their defensive work: because of the way they attacked we were able to pin them a little bit further back and they neutralized guys like [Nico] Pasquotti and [Jose] Escalante,” Smyrniotis said after the match. “They did a lot more work defending, so they were excellent on both sides of the ball.”

Zator will likely stay at right fullback for Leg 2, with Jay Wheeldon replacing the suspended Joel Waterman in the middle. Nanco and Awuah clearly exploited Waterman’s lack of pace. So who slides in to help? Or does Spruce Meadows present something entirely different?

Kyle Bekker vs. Nik Ledgerwood

With Tristan Borges’ Leg 2 future uncertain as of writing, we turn to Forge’s other “Killer Bee.”

Saturday was a perfect example of what you don’t want Kyle Bekker to inflict on your team over 90 minutes; some 60 passes completed, several chances on goal and lots of space to operate. Some of this space came from Cavalry trying to smother Borges, sure, but that’s not an excuse – the Cavs need to continue to play with speed and urgency to keep Bekker from holding the ball.

In this exercise, we choose captain Nik Ledgerwood – but it’s job for the Cavs’ midfield as a whole. Don’t let Bekker spread play out the way he did at Tim Hortons Field.

Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson vs. Julian Büscher

Julian Büscher had a shockingly quiet game going forward in Leg 1 – no attempts on target or key passes, and he completed just half of his passes. He was solid defensively, though, as to be expected from the box-to-box midfielder. Thing is, Büscher was rarely settled in Cavalry’s midfield. Chasing the pack, the German was forced to try and gain possession and pass rather than have the ball recycled to him.

Turn to Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson. In the hole, Jonsson squeezed the midfield with some excellent positional play. Keeping Büscher in front of him, the Swede kept him from making any sort of attacking move, something that will, more often than not, lead to a scoring opportunity.

If Büscher breaks from the shackles in Leg 2, Cavalry could move closer to becoming Canadian Premier League Champions.


Marty Thompson is the digital content editor for the Canadian Premier League. His piece has been published with the permission of the CPL.

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MacLennan captures individual gold at trampoline world championships

Two-time Olympic champion Rosie MacLennan added another gold medal to her trophy case Saturday, finishing first in the individual women’s final at the trampoline world championships in St. Petersburg, Russia.

MacLennan, from King, Ont., scored 57.180 total points in the final, edging Xueying Zhu of China for gold. Zhu had a 0.2 penalty and finished second with 57.080 points. Yana Pavlova of Russia was third at 56.405.

Watch MacLennan rule the competition in Russia:

Rosie MacLennan is a world champion for the second time in her career after winning the individual trampoline world championship in St. Petersburg. 1:18

"I'm really excited and proud of the routines I put out today," MacLennan, who hadn't finished first in the individual event since 2013, told Gymnastics Canada. "Coming into this competition, I was really just trying to focus on my routines and getting them as clean, as high, and as in the middle as possible."

The gold was the third medal of the competition for MacLennan, who has back-to-back Olympic trampoline titles from the 2012 and 2016 Games. She also won silver on Friday in the women's synchronized trampoline event with Sarah Milette and bronze in Thursday's team competition.

Watch the Canadians' performance:

After winning a bronze medal in the team all-around final on Thursday, MacLennan and Milette captured a silver medal in the women's synchro event at the 2018 Trampoline Gymnastics Word Championships in St. Petersburg. 1:54

MacLennan said she is feeling motivated to get in the gym as the qualification process for the 2020 Olympics begins in February.

"This is a definite confidence booster," the 30-year-old said of her performance this week. "I feel healthier and stronger than I have in a really long time."

MacLennan has won three world championship gold medals, including two in the individual event. She also won back-to-back Pan American gold medals in 2011 and 2015 in Toronto.

Canada's Soehn falls just shy of podium

Also Saturday, Canadian Kalena Soehn narrowly missed the podium in the double mini trampoline final. Soehn, of Red Deer, Alta., scored 67.200 points, 0.500 less than third-place finisher Kristie Lowell of the United States.

"I was really hoping I could perform my routines as well as I did in prelims [preliminaries] and I did so I'm really happy," Soehn said.

Sweden’s Lina Sjoeberg won gold and Spain’s Melania Rodriguez took silver.

Toronto's Samantha Smith turned in a strong performance in the semifinals and placed 11th overall.

Watch all of Saturday's action from Russia:

FIG 2018 Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships from St. Petersburg 2:41:06

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