KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Much of the chatter ahead of the MLS is Back Tournament has revolved around the searing heat of a Florida summer and the frequent popup thunderstorms in the Orlando area, and how both could play a role in the competition.
The New England Revolution got to experience both on Friday morning when they completed their first training session at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, as a brief downpour provided a bit of respite shortly after they took the field, only for the sun and heat to make an appearance shortly thereafter.
“It felt good to open up our legs a little bit, get a good run in, and try to acclimate as much as possible to the weather,” said rookie center back Henry Kessler. “It’s been hotter here than in Foxborough, so just trying to get used to that and get the travel out of our legs. It was a good day.”
Friday morning’s session was brief and designed to ease the Revs back into their work after Thursday’s journey to Orlando. Per protocol the Revs flew charter to the Sunshine State, and the entire traveling contingent was tested for COVID-19 upon arrival. They then quarantined in their hotel rooms at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort until the results of those tests came back overnight.
When those results were negative the Revs were cleared to train, and it’s out on the training ground that the players feel the greatest sense of normalcy in the midst of a unique situation.
“It always feels good when you’re able to get on the field and kick the ball around,” said Teal Bunbury. “There’s a lot of things kind of outside of our control with all the testing and kind of isolating yourself and all that, but I think most of the guys, we’re staying positive. I think that’s going to be to our advantage if we’re able to stay positive, and when we’re out here kicking the ball around, we’re all enjoying ourselves.”
Their first training session in Florida also served to solidify the Revolution’s mentality as they prepare for next Thursday’s tournament opener against the Montreal Impact (8 p.m. ET, Univision, Twitter, 98.5 The Sports Hub). Whereas the competition felt somewhat distant while training at home in Foxborough, it’s a clear reality now that the Revs are stationed and training in Orlando.
“Before it was kind of the idea that we had that we knew we were coming down here, there’s a schedule,” said Kessler. “It’s a good thing we’re down here, we’re all glad to be here, so we’re ready to get started.”