The Chicago Fire spent a balmy Tuesday evening on the training ground in Orlando amid their on-going preparation for Major League Soccer’s MLS is Back Tournament.
Tuesday’s session was initially slated to serve as the team’s final prep for their opening night matchup with 2020 expansion side Nashville SC on Wednesday night, but MLS announced earlier in the day the match would be postponed after five Nashville players had confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando.
Now with some unexpected extra time to get his team in shape ahead of next Tuesday's tournament-opening match against Inter Miami CF (8 a.m. CT | ESPN), head coach Raphael Wicky is keeping his side focused on the task at hand.
“It’s obviously not what we’ve planned, but a lot of things in 2020 didn’t go the way we planned it,” he said. “We always talk to the players and say, ‘Let’s focus on what we can control. That’s our training. That’s the way we behave. That’s how we focus on what we do every day.’ So far, our team has done really well. “
Now a week in Florida, Wicky praised the tournament’s organization and his team’s focus on health and safety amid the unusual circumstances of living inside the “bubble” at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.
“Everything we do -- from nose testing, to the bus drive, to the fields here -- everything is really well organized. We never have to wait. The fields are really good. We really can’t complain. The hotel is good. The food is good. We’re ready to start.”
That sentiment was echoed by defender Jonathan Bornstein following Tuesday evening’s session.
“I think the organization -- for at least us, Chicago -- everything has gone really smoothly,” he said.
“For me, we’re all staying safe. Our health is one of the most important things we can be trying to take care of right now. Chicago Fire, at least I can speak for, we’re doing an extremely good job of doing that and our experience in the hotel has been reflected because of that.”
Wicky, Bornstein, and co. will get their first look at their upcoming opponents in the MLS is Back Tournament setting on Wednesday night, when Inter Miami CF takes on Orlando City SC in the competition's opening match on Wednesday night (7 p.m. CT | ESPN).
Miami were winless in two road contests to open their inaugural MLS season back in March, suffering a 1-0 defeat at LAFC on March 1 and a 2-1 loss at D.C. United on March 7 prior to the season's suspension.
While the postponement of the Fire’s opening match was an unexpected wrinkle among an already unprecedented return to play format, Bornstein’s taking it all in stride.
“You’ve got to look at it in a positive light,” he said. “We have another week to train. We’re going to have little bit more time to just fine-tune everything that we’re going to need to be doing in our first game.”
“The team is excited to be here. We’re excited to be training, and we’re really looking forward to the chance that we get to play our first game.”