By Ben Wright.
NASHVILLE, TN - Nashville SC returned to full-team training for the first time since Major League Soccer suspended the 2020 season due to Covid-19 on March 12, 95 days ago. The return comes just three weeks before the #MLSisBack Tournament (yes, that's the actual name) kicks off at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.
"I think everyone was just really excited," said defender Eric Miller. "Like a lot of people we've been sitting around for a long time. It was really good just to get back to a little bit of a sense of normalcy. All the guys have been waiting for a long, long time to compete... to get back out there and play against each other was a lot of fun."
"The work's already started," said head coach Gary Smith. "The next two weeks will be in market, and we've got really a fast-tracked preseason type schedules in terms of the topics and the areas of our game I want to work through... we'll also have, I believe, one game in Orlando - we're going down there a little bit early... the hope is that in a small window of time, we'll be as ready as we can be to compete on the ninth of July." After a break nearly triple the length of a typical MLS offseason, clubs have their work cut out for them to get back to match fitness. Smith, Mike Jacobs and Dax McCarty have all said that a minimum of four weeks of full training would be needed to get up to speed. Now, they'll be working with just over three. "The sides that haven't physically prepared for this [tournament] I think will suffer," said Smith. "For our part, we've done our work. The players have put in a very, very good shift in the last three to four weeks. My hope is that we see the benefits of that down in Orlando." "I think we could surprise a lot of people," said Miller. "We're going to be ready for the challenge, whatever it is."
Photos, video & quotes courtesy Nashville SC