The Sounders met for a yoga class last Friday.
Don’t worry. They practiced social-distancing while practicing three-part breathing by using Zoom, the video conferencing website/app.
“It was really nice, honestly to see each other’s face and talk again and make fun of each other and laugh a little bit,” said Sean Muldoon, the club’s head strength and conditioning coach. The session, led by certified yoga instructor and staff massage therapist Jake Bronowski, was another creative way Muldoon worked to keep the players fit through Major League Soccer’s moratorium on training.
The league suspended its season until at least May 10 in an effort to help the U.S. slow the spread of novel coronavirus. MLS teams are also forbidden to use their facilities, outside of physical therapy for players like midfielder Nico Lodeiro (tendinitis) and Will Bruin (ACL) through March 27.
Gov. Jay Inslee hasn’t issued a shelter-in-place order like New York and California, but Inslee’s shutdown of all nonessential business in Washington has basically quarantined all residents — including the Sounders.
“(Originally) the idea was the summer is going to be really congested with games, so let’s do take a break,” Sounders keeper Stefan Frei said of relaxing physically and mentally last week when MLS only suspended the league for 30 days and a weeklong moratorium on training. The shift announced Thursday was to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s eight-week recommendation.
“You can’t take a complete four, five-week break and get back into the swing of things,” said Frei, who’s also an artist and uses painting on large canvases in his home studio as workouts. “It’s taking a step back into your offseason work where you do have an opportunity to mold your body a little bit more. … I love my pull up bar. Pull ups are extremely effective.”
This past week, Muldoon sent the players individualized nutrition plans along with upper and lower body workouts to complete on alternating days and running to do either outside or on a treadmill. None required equipment as players are in different phases of securing housing in the Seattle area. Colombian defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade has only been in Seattle for three weeks.
Another twist to maintaining the players’ fitness for Muldoon and his staff is the uncertainty of the extent of the shutdowns.
Until the U.S. is able to flatten the curve of confirmed cases, shutdowns will likely be extended, forcing leagues to do the same.
All of MLS being under the same restrictions eliminates concern of keeping up with the competition. But players are reacting to the shutdown differently. Muldoon is also sending meditation videos.
“We’re having to evolve a little bit more on the fly,” Muldoon said. “We’re making it as simple as possible so people can do it with access to nothing (and) we’ll be ready to go when the time comes.”