EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Around the world, soccer has been one of the first team sports to attempt to resume play since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Korean league came back last week and the German Bundasliga will play its first matches in two months beginning Saturday. Here in El Paso, Locomotive FC has resumed workouts in groups of four, with the possibility of matches on the horizon.
“I think what this represents is a step in the right direction and a hope that soccer could be back,” said Locomotive general manager Andrew Forrest.
This week, the USL governing body approved all of its teams to begin small-team workouts; no more than four Locomotive players can work out at a time.
“We train at different timeslots throughout the morning. Some guys begin at 8:30 and we’re going throughout the morning,” said defender Drew Beckie. “We’re not going more than 45 minutes to an hour.”
Drills are non-contact, masks are required upon arrival and hand sanitizer is plentiful. Safety is the number one priority.
“We’re being very cautious, which is the right thing to do not just for the safety of our players but the safety of our community at large,” said Forrest.
After being quarantined for two months, the workouts are a way for the players to shake off the dust.
“There’s some rustiness and some cobwebs,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “They’ve been doing individual running and work on their own but it’s not the same once you get a ball out and incorporate those types of movements.”
At the highest level of U.S. soccer, MLS is eying a resumption of play sometime in June, playing all games in Orlando, according to an ESPN report. While no word has come down from the USL yet, Los Locos are doing their best to stay ready.
“We’re here to train and be ready if we can play. Even if there’s no fans, we’ll do our best to entertain as much as we can and that’s our jobs,” said Beckie.
Locomotive FC officials told KTSM that all players and staff have still gotten paid as they normally would throughout the pandemic. It’s something they hope will continue moving forward.