The break is over. Now the work really begins for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Fresh off a mini-break for players to spend time with their families, if possible, before departing for a month or longer, the Quakes are now in Orlando, Florida to prepare for the MLS is Back Tournament, with San Jose kicking off their games on July 10.
Midfielder Jackson Yueill talked to reporters on a conference call this week before departing for Orlando, and said the goal will be for the Quakes to work harder than their opponents in what’s going to be a free-for-all event.
“I think everyone’s worked really hard to stay fit and be ready for something like this,” Yueill said. “And so I think we’re going there, we’re gonna play our style and really, really try to get after teams, because I think it really depends on how fit teams are and how ready they are to compete and I think those teams are going to do really well in the tournament.”
San Jose only played two games before the coronavirus shutdown, both at home. Opening day was a wild comeback draw against Toronto FC, while Week 2 was a disappointing blowout loss to Minnesota United.
Even with the time restrictions and San Jose needing to play catch-up in training as a group, especially compared to the rest of MLS, Yueill says the club is aiming to fix what ailed them to start the campaign.
“You know from the tournament, we have to be ready from the first whistle. And so we’re going to work hard, and get some things right that they weren’t going right in the other games,” he said.
The MLS is Back Tournament will be a closed-door event, with no fans in the vicinity. Yueill was asked if it would be an adjustment for players to play meaningful games with no fans around, or if he’s the kind of player who tunes everything off the field out. Consider him a player who definitely notices the atmosphere around the field.
“It’ll definitely be a different perspective on the field,” he said. “I think in San Jose we rely on our fans a lot to help us...The absence on the field will definitely be something that’ll be visible, but we’re confident that we have all the support from everyone back home watching on TV and where ever they watch. So we know that we still have a lot of support for everyone in San Jose and everyone who follows us. And we’re gonna try to our best to make everyone happy and get as far as we can.”
While the Earthquakes getting back to action means they need to focus on work, their trip to Orlando comes with the context of a coronavirus surge in Florida, including the Orlando area. Players and teams are supposed to be in a bubble environment at a Disney World resort, but Yueill was asked about the rising number of cases in Orlando, after NWSL club the Orlando Pride opted out of that league’s bubble tournament altogether after a coronavirus outbreak on the squad and staff.
Like his teammate Tommy Thompson, Yueill endorses the plan for MLS teams in Orlando while acknowledging the coronavirus pandemic is real.
“I think from the start, it’s a nerve-wracking time, wherever you are. But we have a lot of faith in our technical staff and our medical staff, and the doctors that the league provides. We’re following all the protocols that they give us and following their words on the safety precautions. So we’re going in there, believing that we’re going to be safe the entire time because [they know what they’re] doing and to help everyone stay safe and healthy while we’re there, and hopefully we can we can get as [few] cases as possible while we’re there with the spike that’s happening in that area,” he said.
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