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USL to allow small group training sessions at team facilities

Phoenix Rising captain Solomon Asante. (Photo courtesy of Michael Rincon)

USL Championship clubs will be able to hold small group training sessions at team facilities beginning May 11, the league announced in a press release on Wednesday morning.

The announcement was first reported by The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter and comes less than a week after the league extended its full-team training moratorium to May 15 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Rueter says the league’s decision to allow for small groups — MLS and the NWSL currently only allow individual training at team facilities — is because most USL clubs provide housing for their players, with multiple teammates also being roommates, including Phoenix Rising FC.

USL’s new protocol will allow groups of up to four players, one athletic trainer and one coach to be present at one time, but no other club personnel may be in the vicinity of the field. Players participating must also live in close proximity to each other, such as in the same apartment complex, and will be advised to not come into contact with each other during training.

The groups must train on a designated part of the field that is a minimum of six feet away from any other designated part of the pitch. Multiple players and groups are allowed to train at the same time, but social distancing must be preserved from arrival to departure.

However, coaches will not be permitted to give technical instruction, and small spaces at training facilities will remain closed until full training is reinstated, including restrooms, weight rooms and locker rooms.

Single-use water bottles, soccer balls and training monitors are allowed to be provided by clubs, but all shared equipment must be disinfected after every training session. Players will also be asked to bring their own food, drink and towels, the former of which must be pre-packaged in a disposable container.

Those who do participate in the new training sessions will be required to stay home when not training except for essentials, such as grocery shopping.

All government advisories will have jurisdiction over each club’s actions, meaning players and staff will be asked to stay home if they feel ill, have come in contact with someone who has or may have COVID-19, and all personnel will be given a thermometer test when arriving at facilities to ensure a safe temperate of under 100.4 degrees.

Teams must also disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and benches both prior to and after training.

It’s been nearly two months since the last time Rising was in action, a 6-1 thrashing over Portland Timbers 2 on the opening weekend of the 2020 season back on March 7.