Just 24 hours after touching down in Orlando, Florida, for the MLS is Back Tournament, Peter Vermes already had his side back on the training pitch Monday evening.
Setting up camp at the ESPN Wide World of Sports ahead of Sporting Kansas City’s maiden game of the tournament Sunday against Minnesota United, it’s business as usual for Vermes and his team.
“Our rhythm here will be the same as we do in Kansas City,” Vermes said. “We’ll run it like a normal workweek — the four days leading up, two of those days will be lifting and the other days will just be training.”
What is that rhythm. exactly?
After arriving Sunday, Vermes’ players underwent a hybrid session Monday night, splitting their practice between a regular training session and then a regeneration session. The regeneration session comes after a weekend spent celebrating the Fourth of July, then traveling and getting settled in at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.
Tuesday was to be an off-day for the team before four straight days of training leading up to Sunday’s clash with Minnesota United at 7 p.m. Central Time. Sporting will have four sessions on the training field and two sessions in the weight room.
Each team is guaranteed some practice time both on the training ground and high-performance centers. A short amount of time is also provided before the training-ground session for coaches to set up practices without impeding upon the two hours each team is allotted.
“We’ll train those four days prior to the game and all of our training is in the morning, which is the same as our schedule at home,” Vermes said. “So I think the guys will be right in line with our normal rhythm with what we do before other games.”
Kansas City arrived in the Sunshine State with a nearly clean bill of health. Only Felipe Gutierrez and Andreu Fontas remain in Kansas City, with the former out for the season following successful knee surgery in June.
The pair have been left behind so as to receive better treatment.
“It just didn’t make sense because of all the logistics that we have down here, (they) would have gotten a lot better not only attention and treatment but flexibility, being there and working with our people that we still have there as well,” Vermes said.
Aside from practicing and weightlifting, Sporting KC’s players, coaches and staff should have plenty to do despite being stuck in a Disney hotel, potentially for a month.
“On all of our floors we have game rooms, places to play poker, a lot of guys brought their own stuff to keep them kind of in check,” Vermes said. “I went out this morning and walked around and there’s a lot of different stuff out there. There’s like five, six, seven pools, the coffee shop downstairs, there are different things like that.”
Players have also brought their own entertainment, such as video-game consoles — or in Graham Zusi’s case, educational reading.
“I have a stack of books that I plan on bringing down. Some for entertainment, and some for educational purposes,” Zusi previously told The Star. “In the times that we’re in at the moment, I’m going to take advantage of educating myself about the systemic racism and everything that’s going on, so that’s something that I’ll be doing for sure, and I’m sure other guys will be doing the same.”
Sporting is sharing a hotel floor with Nashville SC, which recently had five players test positive for COVID-19 inside the “Orlando Bubble.” FC Dallas also withdrew itself from the tournament last Wednesday after 11 of their players tested positive.
But Vermes assured that Kansas City is remaining sensible, as they have all done since league play came to a halt in March.
“There will be very limited interaction with the opposition — any teams apart from when we see them in the common areas,” Vermes said.
“But it’s not like our guys will go over to another guy’s hotel and hang out with him, because that’s something that everybody has safeguarded against because it’s an easy way to cross-contaminate team to team.”